January 13 is National Gluten Free Day! Over the years, gluten-free options have become more and more available in stores and restaurants to accommodate those who choose to eliminate gluten from their diet, or those (like me!) who avoid it due to medical reasons like Celiac disease. Disney has a great reputation for having both safe and plentiful options for guests with allergies, and this is no exception for guests avoiding gluten. While nearly all dining locations will have something gluten free guests can enjoy, some really shine with their offerings. Here are five fantastic restaurants at Walt Disney World to enjoy with your favorite gluten-free friends!
Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village)
Sanaa is Swahili for “work of beauty” — and that’s pretty much exactly how I’d describe a gluten-free meal here! If you’ve ever been to Sanaa, you know that it’s basically illegal to dine here without ordering the bread service. Bread service? Gluten free? Yes, one of those things that often sounds like a only dream, but here, dreams do indeed come true. All nine dipping sauces are also safe, making this a real treat! A large number of the dishes on the menu are safe as is — full of meats, vegetables, and deep flavorful sauces. Highly recommend the Potjie-Inspired, because being able to try two delicious dishes is even better than one!
Raglan Road (Disney Springs)
This rollicking Irish pub is known for the music, dancing, drinks, and let’s be honest, the plethora of indulgent fried foods on the extensive menu. Fried foods can be somewhat of a unicorn for gluten-free diners, especially those who need to avoid cross-contamination with gluten-filled foods. So cue the happy tears at the dedicated gluten-free fryer here! Fish and chips, scallops, chicken, onion rings…save the diet for another day, and enjoy the splurge. Wash it down with one of the gluten-free beer or cider options, or finish up with the decadent flourless chocolate cake!
Skipper Canteen (Magic Kingdom)
Though there’s already been a change (okay, dumbing down) of the menu from the original version, one thing that’s remained the same is how many dishes available are gluten free as-is. There’s a great selection of appetizers – the falafel dish is big enough to share, but I don’t recommend that. Give the Tastes Like Chicken Because It Is a try — this take on fried chicken has a chili glaze that gives it just a bit of a kick. It’s always a treat when you find a restaurant that uses tamari instead of soy sauce – it really opens up the number of options! The Quick Sand dessert is a jasmine rice pudding that has a presentation as impressive as the flavor. Throw in servers that specialize in corny puns, and this is quite the little Adventureland gem!
Trattoria al Forno (Boardwalk)
Breakfast and dinner here are two totally different experiences, but both are a treat. The Bon Voyage breakfast starts with a Rapunzel-esque frying pan full of gluten-filled pastries for the table to share. Lucky gluten-free diners will get their own tiny frying pan of house-made muffins and scones, and no sharing required! Dinner options are plentiful; in fact almost all options can be done gluten free, thanks to the use of gluten-free breadcrumbs and the option for gluten-free pasta. The calamari appetizer here is not to be missed — fresh, crisp, drizzled with balsamic, it’s what gluten-free dreams are made of. Save room for a rich gelato to end your meal!
50’s Prime Time Cafe (Hollywood Studios)
Fill your belly and soul with gluten-free comfort foods straight from mom’s kitchen. Many of the dishes here that would traditionally be off limits are done gluten free. Crab cakes, meatloaf, chicken pot pie…you feel warm and fuzzy just reading this, right? Perhaps the star here is one item on the standard menu that isn’t on the gluten allergy menu but can be done by special request – Aunt Liz’s Golden Fried Chicken. Pro tip: if you are planning to order this and you are in the park prior to your reservation, stop in the restaurant and talk to someone at the check-in desk. Because the dedicated fryer takes time to warm up, and the dish itself takes time to be prepped and cooked, ordering on the spot can result in a really, really long wait. Giving advanced notice means you can get that classic goodness in your hands (just don’t forget your manners, use a napkin) even faster!
Honorable Mention: Nomad Lounge (Animal Kingdom)
Nomad Lounge has a small menu of small plates that is known to rotate during the year. One addition that came to the show here last year were the churros. Yes people, gluten free churros!! THIS IS NOT A DRILL. These are not a special order – they are made gluten free, in a safe fryer. They come with a vanilla sauce, and a spicy strawberry sauce (which I highly recommend double dipping between the two). The churros are fresh, warm, and quite honestly they put any other WDW park churro to shame! I hope these don’t ever leave the menu!
In a world where all too often the only gluten free option is a grilled chicken salad (hey, no offense salad, you’re healthy but you get kind of boring), it’s such a treat to have such a variety of options available at so many Disney restaurants. Fellow gluten free diners, what’s your favorite place to eat in Disney? Tell me in the comments!