August 24, 2010

Gluten-Free Options at Noodles and Company

By Evan Sandsmark -  

The Boulder-based Noodles and Company has gluten-free options available, but they’re not exactly in plain sight. Instead, they have a nutrition / allergen chart to reference, which is available online and at store locations, and with just the slightest degree of ingenuity, you can come up with several gluten-free items to order.

Upon looking at the chart, the gluten-free eater may feel discouraged. Of the two dozen or so items listed, only a few are explicitly listed as gluten free. More discouragingly, there appears to be only one gluten-free pasta dish available – pad Thai – and while the pad Thai at Noodles is great, it’s nice to have a few options to choose from. Fortunately, you do, and that’s where that small amount of ingenuity comes in handy. Pad Thai, you see, is made with rice noodles, and not surprisingly, rice noodles can be used for other pasta dishes besides pad Thai. So, as long as you substitute rice noodles for the default noodles that the company uses in almost all its dishes, you have a variety of gluten-free options to choose from, ranging from Noodles’ spaghetti dishes to its Penne Rosa and all sorts of options in between.

As far as gluten-free proteins go, Noodle’s offers sautéed beef, braised beef, and sautéed shrimp. These meats, of course, can be combined with dishes that involve rice noodles to make a well-rounded, gluten-free meal. If you’re a vegetarian, you can simply order vegetables in place of meat if you’re looking for something beyond a simple pasta dish.

If pasta isn’t your thing (don’t go to a place called Noodles and Company – just kidding!), there are several salads available that, with some slight tweaking, are also gluten free. For example, you could order the Caesar Salad, and as long as you ask for no croutons, you should be in the clear. Other options include the Cucumber Tomato side salad, which requires no alteration at all, and The Med Salad, ordered without the noodles that customarily come with it. As precautionary measure, you should always be sure to check with Noodles (or any other restaurant, for that matter) the gluten content of your salad dressing.

So, although Noodles doesn’t have a separate gluten-free menu, it’s easy enough to come up with a not insignificant amount of options.

If you go to Noodles and dream up a tasty dish, let us know about it in the comment section.

Here is a link to the Noodles and Company ingredient chart (PDF):
http://www.noodles.com/files/files/nutritioninfo.pdf

Another link to a helpful article about Noodles and its gluten-free options:
http://celiac-disease.com/gluten-free-at-noodles-company/

Finally, here’s a list of the restaurant’s locations in Boulder:
(1) 1600 28th Street
(2) 1245 Alpine (North Boulder)
(3) 2850 Baseline Road

This last location, however, is about to move to the nearby Basemar Shopping Center, which is located at the intersection of Baseline and Broadway.

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