June 10, 2011

Udi’s Bread Cafe, a Quick Drive From Boulder, has Delicious Gluten-Free Food

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Gluten-free dieters in Boulder are probably familiar with Udi’s gluten-free bread, offered at seemingly every grocery store in Boulder and the surrounding area. Udi’s offers a ton of gluten-free foods, including the aforementioned gluten-free bread, as well as gluten-free bagels and gluten-free pizza crust, among other items. Udi’s, in short, is very much a part of the gluten-free scene here in Boulder.

What many may not know is that Udi’s operates five cafes in the Boulder and Denver area that offer gluten-free food. One such cafe, known in full as Udi’s Bread Cafe, is located in Louisville, annexed to a large Udi’s bakery that is located in what appears to be a business district on the edge of town. We visited the cafe on a recent afternoon and had a very enjoyable gluten-free lunch.

While not exactly difficult to find, Udi’s Bread Cafe is a little off the beaten path, as it were. Depending on your approach angle, you might have to drive through some open fields and by some nondescript office buildings (as we did) before you find the place. However, as long as you follow your Google Map (or whatever service you use: MapQuest, sense of smell, etc.) directions diligently, resisting the urge to cry out in despair when you find yourself in a location that doesn’t seem like the most likely place to find a restaurant, you should find it without much trouble.

When you do find it and walk through the entrance, you’ll likely be struck by the enormous size of the place. The ceilings are at least 30 feet high, and the dining area could probably serve as a hanger for a jetliner. There are numerous wooden tables scattered throughout the cafe, some of which are positioned alongside windows that look into Udi’s factory-sized baking operation – these appear to be coveted, as they were all occupied during our visit, while the vast majority of the regular tables remained vacant. Despite the large number of tables, there is ample room between each of them. On your trip to Udi’s, there will be no rubbing elbows (in the literal sense of the phrase) with the patrons sitting around you. The color scheme is Easteresque, with all the walls being a soft yellow, and most of the chairs a light blue. A universe of open space and happy colors lend a pleasant atmosphere to the cafe.

Udi’s Bread Cafe is essentially set up as a deli. You order at a counter and then find a table; a few minutes later, an employee of the kitchen delivers your food. The menu is also rather deli-like, consisting as it does of the three S’s (soups, salads, and sandwiches) and pananis (which of course are a subspecies of sandwiches). There is a soup of the day offered, but unfortunately during our visit it wasn’t gluten-free. There are a few different salads on the menu – the Mango Chicken Salad and the Greek Salad caught our eyes – but salads are almost always gluten-free, so there isn’t much to say on this front with respect to gluten-free eating per se. (As always, if you plan to order a salad, make sure that all of the ingredients that come with it by default, including the dressing, are gluten-free.)

We decided to order the Chicken Dip Sandwich, made with pan-seared salt and pepper chicken, aioli, sautéed mushrooms, and melted Swiss atop gluten-free bread, and served with a side dish of gluten-free chicken au jus. Because any sandwich can be made with gluten-free bread (which costs one dollar extra), virtually every item on the menu can be gluten-free. The cashier informed us that to the best of her knowledge, every sandwich (and there are a lot – we’ve provided a link to the menu below) is gluten-free except for the French Dip, which is served with a beef au jus that contains gluten. However, this isn’t much of a limitation, as the beef au jus can be replaced with the chicken au jus – the same stuff that came with our sandwich – which is in fact gluten-free. (Again, though, don’t assume that everything is gluten-free on a sandwich just because it is on gluten-free bread – you must always stay alert to the other ingredients, especially the sauces, but enough pedantry.)

Most of the sandwiches on the menu are served with a side of your choosing: mixed greens, potato salad, or chips, or for a $1.50 more, soup. We selected the mixed greens with a light olive-oil dressing to go with our sandwich, and it was a good, if not particularly noteworthy, side dish. The lettuce and sliced carrots were fresh and crispy, and the dressing added just the right amount of flavor. Beside the salad on the plate (and you get a real, non-disposable plate when you dine in) sat an unusually good pickle, which we took a few blissful bites of before moving on to our sandwich.

Made with large slices of flavorful, tender chicken and heaped with sautéed mushrooms, the chicken sandwich we ate was delicious, thanks in no small part to the exceptionally tasty gluten-free bread it was served on. It was everything one looks for in a sandwich bread: soft, light and fluffy with a thick crust to add texture to every bite. Presumably, some of the bread’s greatness can be attributed to the fact that it was obviously fresh (the cafe is, as we noted, annexed to a bakery that cranks out fresh bread all day), but we’d relish this bread long after its peak freshness had passed. By singling out the bread, we don’t mean to undercut the quality of the other ingredients – they were very good, especially the abundant mushrooms – but we do wish to emphasize that one of the main foods disallowed by the gluten-free diet, standard bread, can be extremely good without its flagship ingredient, wheat. When dipped in the chicken au jus, the chicken was made even more tender and the sandwich, with the help of the absorbent bread, took on even more flavor. It was an immensely satisfying meal, concluding with the last bite of that otherworldly pickle.

The full menu for Udi’s Bread Cafe can be found here (PDF):


The cafe itself can be found here:
185 S 104th St, #A
Louisville, CO, 80027

Note: This is the nineteenth article in a new series presented by GlutenFreeInBoulder.com. On a (roughly) weekly basis, we will visit a restaurant, try a thing or two, and write about our experience. We will, of course, be sampling exclusively gluten-free food so we can report back to our readers about the items worth having. However, many of the places we visit merely offer gluten-free options, and hence are not necessarily 100% gluten-free facilities, so if proximal cross-contamination is an issue, call ahead. If you would like us to review a particular restaurant with gluten-free options, send an email to info@glutenfreeinboulder.com. We’ll try our best to check it out!

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  1. Stephanie says:

    Hi! I just wanted to say thanks for your blog! I have celiac disease and live in Lafayette and have discovered a few places I didn’t know about via your blog. My family now frequents Suki Thai, my son is allergic to dairy and eggs too, and it’s one of the few places we can all eat.

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