Archive for Austin

Visit Austin!


By Meghan McCarron

The Capital City of Texas Welcomes Special Diet Travelers


With an unofficial slogan of “Keep Austin Weird,” Austin, Texas, is a place that prides itself as much on its slacker ethos as its booming tech sector. This city has something for everyone.

Visitors can stay anywhere from a five-star hotel to a backyard yurt and eat anywhere from a fine-dining restaurant to a taco trailer. The city, which may be best known for its buzzing South by Southwest Music Festival, calls itself the live music capital of the world.
Austin’s restaurant and food scene is booming, intensely focused on both sustainability and sourcing. It’s a great place to dine gluten-free and with food allergies. Many restaurants offer gluten-free menus. At others, servers are well informed about the needs of diners with special dietary needs.


Photo Courtesy of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau


South Austin

South Congress, South First, South Lamar and beyond

South Austin is a place to indulge your inner hippie, whether that hippie likes quirky antiques, backyard outsider art, or communing with the outdoors. South Congress has transformed from a once-sleepy strip to one of the area’s biggest shopping and tourist attractions.

Austin is a particularly great town for vintage shopping: Uncommon Objects lives up to its billing as an “antique collective of transcendent junk.” The high-end Feathers vintage boutique offers carefully curated designer treasures. For the opposite, yet equally transcendent junk experience, head down to the Cathedral of Junk, a staggering backyard art installation on a quiet street.

The real treasure of South Austin, however, is Zilker Park and the greenbelt. If the weather is remotely warm, a swim in Barton Springs natural spring pool is a must. Barton Springs is often referred to as the heart of Austin—the view from the massive pool now includes several skyscrapers, capturing Austin’s past and future at once. The greenbelt running along Barton Creek offers miles of walking and mountain biking. Zilker is also a great place to rent a kayak or canoe to explore Lady Bird Lake.


Good Eats

Visitors to South Congress will undoubtedly notice the long line outside of hyper-popular burger restaurant Hopdoddy. Known for its variety of tasty milkshakes and crafted burgers, the restaurant offers house-made gluten-free buns for those who want to brave the line.

For a more laid-back option, the nearby Snack Bar offers a wealth of gluten-free options on its charming patio—sandwiches and French toast made with gluten-free bread, as well as a gluten-free flatbread pizza and burger. There’s a nice, affordable selection of wines and several hard ciders.

For the best people-watching and coffee fix, local institution Jo’s Coffee serves up locally roasted Cuvee beans and stellar gluten-free pastries from Blackbird Bakery. Their luxe gluten-free “pop tarts” made with puff pastry are not to be missed. If you’re still hungry, grab a gluten-free Frito pie.

Nearby South First has a mixture of both casual and higher-end dining, all offering a great taste of Austin’s culinary scene. For those who like buzz, the loud and festive Sway Thai
serves Australian-style Thai food with a clearly labeled menu and lots of great gluten-free options.

One of the best new additions to the frozen treat scene is Dolce Neve Gelato. Run by warm and friendly Italian siblings, the gelato is creamy, fresh and created using seasonal ingredients. They also offer vegan gelato, sorbets and granitas, plus gluten-free gelato sandwiches.

Local institution Bouldin Creek Café is one of the best vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in town and their dedicated gluten-free menu includes gluten-free bread. The café is a great place to linger or catch up on work, and their laid-back breakfast and brunch feature delicious and flavorful omelets and scrambles.

A locally sourced Thai restaurant, extensive gluten-free and vegan bakery and a dairy-free ice cream shop all under one roof? That’s Thai Fresh. When owner Jam Sanitchat took over the adjoining café, she hired three bakers versed in gluten-free and vegan baking to complement the ice creams, which are made with coconut milk. Tucked away on Mary Street, this restaurant is a great place for a quick and satisfying meal or an afternoon treat. They serve gluten-free Thai chicken and waffles on weekends.

One of Austin’s best chefs is Bryce Gilmore, nationally recognized for his contemporary reinvention of Texan cuisine and obsessive focus on local ingredients. His fine-dining restaurant, Barley Swine, has a tasting menu that accommodates gluten-free diners without missing a beat. Gilmore’s second restaurant, Odd Duck, serves up his signature cuisine in a more casual, farmhouse environment. The restaurant prints both a gluten-free and celiac menu daily, as well as five other menus for those with various dietary restrictions.

Austin is a town that runs on tacos. Those not sensitive to cross-contamination should eat as many as possible. But since most corn tortillas are heated on the same surface as flour tortillas, they’re not always a safe bet for celiacs. If you’re exploring the greenbelt, don’t miss nearby Tacodeli on Spyglass Drive. In addition to serving some of the most delicious new-school tacos in town, they have a separate celiac-friendly tortilla press. This mini-chain has several other locations around Austin.


Downtown Austin


Photo Courtesy of Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau

Over the past ten years, downtown Austin has rapidly transformed from an industrial and office district to a vibrant neighborhood defined by restaurants, bars and high-end hotels and condos. Walk up Congress Avenue to explore the grounds of the Texas Capitol or explore hip art museum The Contemporary Austin in its striking white building. West 2nd street is a burgeoning shopping district.

Austin is known as the live music capital of the world and many of the city’s best venues are downtown. ACL Live at the Moody Theater features stellar national acts and The Mohawk is a great bet for checking out up-and-coming indie darlings.


Good Eats

Whole Foods Market’s flagship store is downtown, offering dining options that range from healthy rice bowls to barbecue. Their tiny restaurant next to the fish counter is one of Austin’s best-kept secrets for a healthy and affordable seafood meal. Every dining option at Whole Foods is clearly labeled or staffed by well-informed servers who understand dietary needs. Wine bottles are retail-priced.

To get a taste of old-school Austin, check out Hut’s Hamburgers on West 6th. The historic building is filled with classic Texas memorabilia and burgers are available on gluten-free buns.

If hot dogs are more your thing, check out fun and funky Frank, which serves a wide array of house-made sausages and hot dogs, all available on gluten-free buns. They have a gluten-free menu with lots of options and an amazing coffee program.

Another great lunch option is Wholly Cow Burgers on Congress, which serves grass-fed beef. They have a dedicated gluten-free fryer for fries and a dedicated gluten-free toaster for buns. Although the atmosphere here isn’t as exciting as at Hut’s, Wholly Cow is a good choice for those who want to minimize cross-contamination.

Second Bar and Kitchen is one of Austin’s best bets for a casual and stylish sit-down meal. Their gluten-free menu is thoughtful and extensive. They share a kitchen with neighboring fine dining restaurant, Congress, so the food is always well executed. Bar Congress, in the same building, is one of the city’s best craft cocktail bars.

For a more upscale dinner, La Condesa’s high-end Mexican cuisine is one of the city’s most gluten-free-friendly options. It also happens to be one of the best restaurants in Austin, with a gorgeous interior and a great tequila program. It’s easy to make a meal of their tacos and small plates.

If you’re near the convention center and in search of a nearby restaurant, skip the national chains and check out Max’s Wine Dive. It’s a Texas-grown restaurant chain with a gluten-free menu, including a stellar gluten-free fried chicken.


North Central Austin

Hyde Park, North Loop, Burnet Road

The neighborhoods north of the University of Texas campus aren’t easy to reach without a car or confident cycling skills but they’re some of the city’s most charming examples of craftsman bungalows and walkable neighborhoods. If you’re interested in checking out UT’s campus, don’t miss the Blanton Museum of Art and the Harry Ransom Center. The latter houses one of the country’s premier rare book collections.

Fans of small museums should check out the beautiful Elisabet Ney Museum in Hyde Park. It’s housed in the studio of the classically trained German sculptor who migrated to Austin during the frontier era.

In North Loop, a walkable neighborhood strip offers affordable vintage items and a video store, in addition to bars, restaurants and coffee shops.


Good Eats

One of Austin’s few dedicated gluten-free restaurants is Wild Wood Bakehouse, which has an in-house bakery in addition to a full restaurant with pasta, pizza and lots of other traditionally off-limits eats.

Noble Sandwich Company serves up some of the city’s best and most inventive sandwiches, from smoked duck pastrami to house-made chorizo and egg. Every sandwich is available on gluten-free bread and their staff is knowledgeable about dining restrictions.

Food hippie heaven exists at the Hyde Park location of Juiceland, which hosts the vegan ice cream parlor, Sweet Ritual. Juiceland’s smoothies and juices are complemented by house-made meals and snacks, almost all of which are vegan and gluten-free. Sweet Ritual’s ice cream offers veganized flavors like dulce de leche and their waffle cones are gluten-free.


East Austin

This dynamic and rapidly changing neighborhood has deep roots in both the Mexican-American and African-American community in Austin. Its former industrial pockets have been transformed into artist studios and condos.

Notable museums include the Texas Music Museum, the George Washington Carver Museum dedicated to black inventors, and the French Legation Museum, located in the oldest standing house in Austin.

The area bordered by East Cesar Chavez and East 6th Street is home to a number of hip boutiques. The East 6th bar district is another great bet for enjoying live music, whether it’s grungy rock shows at Hotel Vegas or dive bar two steppin’ at The White Horse.


Good Eats


Photo Courtesy Franklin Barbecue

Austin’s barbecue has put the city on the national map and if you skip the white bread on the side and ask about the sauce ingredients, it’s usually entirely gluten-free. Every visitor to Austin must decide: Do I want to stand in line for Franklin Barbecue? Widely considered the best barbecue in Texas, the wait can be two or three hours long during the week and up to five hours on the weekend. If you’re there on Wednesday or Thursday, it’s probably worth it to pick up some cans of local Austin Eastciders and tailgate outside this barbecue mecca for a few hours. If it’s a weekend and you’re willing to get up early (like 7 or 8 a.m. early) to try the best brisket in town, well then, godspeed.

Here’s the thing: The same neighborhood features several other incredible barbecue options. The nearby La Barbecue trailer turns out smokey meats on par with Franklin’s and on the weekends, the wait in line only runs an hour or two. Micklethwait Craft Meats makes creative sausage and a rare barbecue chicken, in addition to nailing the core Texas styles of brisket, ribs and traditional hot links.

Some of Austin’s best tacos are served on handmade corn tortillas at Veracruz All Natural. Their migas taco, a mix of egg and fried tortillas topped with cheese and avocado, is staggeringly good.

Coming to Texas to eat Detroit-style pizza may seem odd but the thick, square-shaped pies at Via 313 might be the best gluten-free pizza you’ve ever tasted. Their gluten-free crust is thick and fluffy and the brothers behind the trailer are equally skilled at creating classic pepperoni pies as they are at a fancy prosciutto and fig option called (tongue-in-cheek), The Cadillac.

Austin’s most dynamic restaurant is Qui, the flagship of Top Chef winner Paul Qui. Located in an unmarked white building on East 6th, Qui’s tasting menu is one of Austin’s most affordable luxuries and their separate patio menu is a downright steal. Composed of Qui’s take on Filipino pub food, almost everything is gluten-free, from the sizzling sisig to the kinilaw, a Filipino ceviche made with coconut milk. Down the street at The Liberty, Qui’s East Side King truck serves up the best gluten-free fried Asian fusion bar food you’ll ever eat.


Getting Around

CapMetro Austin offers a number of useful bus lines, as well as a rail line out to the
suburbs, all operated by Capital Metro. A dedicated bus line runs from the airport to downtown.

Taxi Austin has several cab companies and a taxi is one of the easiest ways to get from the airport to your hotel. They are less reliable in the city except for the downtown area.

Car2Go A carsharing company, Car2Go allows customers to pick up and drop off their tiny SmartCars anywhere within the central city. Cars can be located and reserved via app and are widely available. Rates are much more reasonable than a rental car. Sign up in advance for a membership at

Rental Cars Austin is definitely a city built around cars, at least for the moment. If you
intend to stay in the center of the city, there’s no real need for a rental car. But if you’d like to explore the surrounding hill country or any further-flung area of the city, several companies offer airport rental pickup.

Uber/Lyft These app-based car services recently arrived in Austin. They tend to offer more
reliable service than the traditional cab companies, at least at the moment. Both can be hailed via their apps.

Bicycles Central Austin is easily traversed via bike. There’s also a long, beautiful cycling trail and boardwalk around Lady Bird Lake. Most local bike shops offer rentals by the day or
week. The city also has a bike share.


Meghan McCarron is a writer and editor living in Austin, Texas.

Austin Lecture and Demo Schedule


Click on each topic to get more information about the presentation.

Lecture Schedule Saturday:

10:15-10:45 am – Erin Smith – Gluten-Free Globetrotter: How to Plan Your Gluten-Free Vacation
10:50-11:50 am – Debbie Adler: Finding Abundance in a Food Restricted Life
12:00-01:00 pm – Dr. Samantha Brody – Gluten-Free 101
01:10-02:10 pm – Laura Bryne Russell – Identifying Gluten in Common Asian Ingredients
02:45-04:15 pm – Brandy Wendler – Mental Health & Your Gut

Demo Schedule Saturday:

10:15-10:45 am – Bona Dea Baking Co. – Easy AM Hot Breakfast Options
10:50-11:50 pm – Kristine Kidd – Whole Grain and Naturally Gluten-Free Baking
12:00-01:00 pm – Beth Hillson/Jules Shepard/Erica Dermer – Open Forum Discussion/Live Webinar
01:10-01:25 pm – Udi’s/Glutino – Learn Some Creative Cooking and Baking Ideas Using Glutino’s Pretzels!
01:35-02:35 pm – Jules Shepard – Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas
02:45-03:45 pm – Karen Morgan – Debunking the Myth of All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour

Lecture Schedule Sunday:

10:15-10:45 am – Erin Smith – Gluten-Free Globetrotter: How to Plan Your Gluten-Free Vacation
10:50-11:50 am – Debbie Adler – Finding Abundance in a Food Restricted Life
12:00-01:00 pm – Dr. Samantha Brody – Gluten-Free 101
01:35-03:05 pm – Brandy Wendler – Mental Health & Your Gut

Demo Schedule Sunday:

10:15-10:45 am – Bona Dea Baking Co. – Easy AM Hot Breakfast Options
10:50-11:50 pm – Kristine Kidd – Whole Grain and Naturally Gluten-Free Baking
12:00-01:00 pm – Beth Hillson – Make Friends with Your Bread Machine
01:10-01:25 pm – Udi’s/Glutino – Learn Some Creative Cooking and Baking Ideas Using Glutino’s Pretzels!
01:35-02:35 pm – Jules Shepard – Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas
02:45-03:45 pm – Karen Morgan – Debunking the Myth of All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour


Lecture Descriptions

Erin Smith

Topic: Gluten-Free Globetrotter: How to plan your gluten-free vacation
Location: Meeting Room 9C

Planning a gluten-free vacation and eating far from home can be a daunting experience. During this session with Erin Smith, founder of Gluten-Free Globetrotter™, she will share gluten-free travel tips, suggest planning resources for your gluten-free vacation, explore gluten-free travel questions at the end of the session.

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Debbie Adler

Topic: Finding Abundance in a Food Restricted Life
Location: Meeting Room 9C

Debbie Adler, owner of the gluten-free, allergy-free, sugar-free bakery Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes in Los Angeles talks about the road, the traffic jams, the tragic stops and the inspiring starts that eventually led to her successful business and how recalibrating her negative perceptions about her young son’s life threatening food allergies has inspired her and those she teaches to live a more fulfilling, healthful and abundant life.
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Dr. Samantha Brody

Topic: Gluten-Free 101
Location: Meeting Room 9C

Are you gluten-free or considering going gluten-free? Dr. Samantha Brody will clear up all of your confusion and questions about the basics of gluten-spectrum disorders and gluten-free diets. There is so much information and misinformation out there about testing, what you can and can’t eat, the differences between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the impact of gluten on our bodies, laws about gluten labeling, and more. Dr. Samantha leaves no stone unturned and you’ll head out feeling relieved to fully understand the ins and outs of gluten-free living. Attendees will also get a link for a complementary copy of her soon to be published eBook- Gluten-free Essentials: What You Need to Know About Your Gluten-Free Life.

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Laura Byrne Russell

Topic: Identifying Gluten in Common Asian Ingredients
Location: Meeting Room 9C

Gluten-free eating can be healthy and delicious when you stick to the basics, focusing on whole, natural foods such as vegetables, fruits, rice, quinoa, meat & fish. Join Laura for a discussion and demonstration of two simple side dish recipes from her new book, Brassicas: Cooking the World’s Healthiest Vegetables.

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Brandy Wendler

Topic: Mental Health & Your Gut
Location: Meeting Room 9C

Description to come.

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Demo Descriptions


Bona Dea Baking Company

Topic: Easy AM Hot Breakfast Options
Location: Demo Stage

Bona Dea Baking staff will show you how to give your kiddos a hot breakfast without all the time and energy. We demonstrate how to prep a few items, freeze and reheat for easy, quick hot breakfasts, like Avocado Ginger Muffins (a mom and kid favorite that’s also vegan), and a Waffle and Nut Butter Sandwich. We’ll also show you how to toast a Bona Dea Waffles and add a little fresh nut butter.

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Kristine Kidd

Topic: Whole grain and Naturally Gluten-Free Baking
Location: Expo Hall

As the former food editor for Bon Appetit magazine, when Kristine came down with Celia disease, she was determined to eat as well as she always had. For her that means fresh, whole foods. However, many gluten-free baked goods are coarse, dry and lacking in good flavor, and most recipes rely on nutritionally empty white starches.

Kristine will talk about creating baked goods that are not only delicious because they are gluten free, but they are fabulous, for anyone. She creates wonderful desserts that never included gluten—items like crisp meringue nests filled with fresh fruit, billowy Pavlovas topped with whipped cream and berries, nut tortes layered with lemon curd, flourless chocolate cakes, and comforting puddings. Amazing pastries and artisanal style breads can be made featuring flavorful and nutrition-packed gluten-free whole grains like cornmeal, sorghum, buckwheat, oats, millet and more. Learn about these ingredients and techniques from Kristine.

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Beth Hillson/Jules Shepard/Erica Dermer

Topic: Open Forum Discussion/Live Webinar
Location: Expo Hall

Join these three experts in the gluten-free field as they discuss and answer your most pressing questions about everything from going gluten-free to expert baking tips. Submit your questions and join the discussion.

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Topic: Learn Some Creative Cooking and Baking Ideas using Glutino’s pretzels
Location: Expo Hall

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Jules Shepard

Topic: Homemade Gluten-Free Flour Tortillas
Location: Expo Hall

What would Texas cuisine be without soft flour tortillas? Celebrity Chef and Gluten Free & More Associate Editor Jules Shepard ( will show you how easy it is to make homemade gluten-free and vegan flour tortillas. Come learn how to make these delicious wraps for yourself, and sample how good they can taste, even without the gluten!

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Karen Morgan

Topic: Debunking the Myth of All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour
Location: Expo Hall

Let’s face it.  The number one frustration for every gluten-free baker, hands down, is the flour, and thankfully, after seven years of intensive research and development, Karen has debunked the myth of the existence of a true all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (one that works perfectly for every application) by creating a line of professional grade flour blends that perform exactly as they say they do.  With each capable of making thousands of recipes, she is going to show you just how versatile they are and how delicious the results really are.

Karen Morgan is the renowned gluten-free chef that has written 2 cookbooks, Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free and The Everyday Art of Gluten-Free, and is the creator of the revolutionary Blackbird Bakery Gluten-Free Flour Blend line, which her second book is centered around.  Morgan founded Blackbird Bakery in 2008 and has been serving Austin her freshly made artisinal gluten-free breads and gourmet pastries ever since.

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Beth Hillson

Topic: Make Friends with Your Bread Machine
Location: Expo Hall

Whether you have celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity or are gluten-free by choice, there’s no need to give up great yeast bread. Just make it without gluten. Beth Hillson will share tips to help you get started. Even if you don’t have a bread machine, the tips in this demonstration will help you make great breads.

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