Special Guest Writer: Meg Thomson
As someone recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease, I am highly skeptical when dining in restaurants. I’m cautious, potentially to a fault; I call ahead to make sure they have a separate preparation area, notify my server (and often the manager) of my allergy, and confirm again when the food is delivered to the table.
In addition to those precautions, I often look online for personal reviews to see the experiences of others. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of three restaurants at which I had a positive experience during my stay in Panama City Beach.
Please keep in mind that these were my personal experiences, and Premium Beach Condos cannot guarantee your meal will not contain gluten cross-contamination.
With the amount of flour and dough present in pizza restaurants, I am extremely wary when it comes to gluten-free pizza. However, Red Brick Pizza left me pleasantly surprised. I ate there twice during the week, both times with success. They have a wide variety of pizzas with gluten-free options, but I liked my first order so much I ordered the same thing both visits: the BBQ Chicken Pizza. Red Brick definitely knows what they’re doing when it comes to their gluten-free recipe. When I called the manager, he informed me they have an entirely separate preparation area for their gluten-free pizzas as well as oven dedicated to gluten-free items.
Back Porch is a family favorite, gluten-free and otherwise, so when I found out that they had Celiac friendly dining, I was more than relieved. They have a wide variety of gluten-free options, which is refreshing for those of us on a gluten-free diet. It’s nice to receive a menu with something other than salads (although, ironically, my favorite dish was the Crab and Shrimp Salad). At Back Porch, you can get many of their sandwiches (served without the bread), salads, several seafood appetizers, and a large selection of entrees.
Of all the restaurants we went to in Panama City Beach, I received the most personal care at Red Robin. The manager (Alyssa) came out several times to help me choose a dish and modify it to my tastes. I was able to show off my iPad Menu to the people at my table, all of whom had regular plastic menus (amateurs). However, one obstacle I ran into was that I do not eat beef. Since this is mostly a burger restaurant, I was very limited in my options. If you do eat beef, you can get their burgers on lettuce wraps instead of the traditional hamburger bun. I ended up going with a salad, but the manager was able to prepare their grilled chicken gluten-free specifically for me to put on my salad. Most of the time when I go to restaurants, I feel like I’m being difficult and my presence is a burden on the staff. But at Red Robin, I felt welcome and accepted because of the manager’s and wait staff’s kindness and eagerness to help me.
As I continue to explore gluten-free dining options, I am finding more and more restaurants that can accommodate my allergies. I’m looking forward to finding additional choices in the area during my next visit to Panama City Beach!
Research is the key to success when it comes to gluten-free dining. I am guilty of avoiding the situation altogether and just cooking something in the condo. While that’s a great alternative to have, it’s important not to deprive yourself from the full experience of Pier Park and the rest of Panama City Beach. Don’t be afraid to call the restaurant and ask if they can accommodate an allergy like yours. You just might be surprised by their answers!