October 18, 2012

Where to Get Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

A little while ago, a reader asked us if we happened to know any place in Boulder with gluten-free macaroni and cheese. Actually, the reader, adopting the standard abbreviated form of the dish’s name, asked if we knew of any place that sold gluten-free mac and cheese. Her issue is that her six-year-old daughter was recently diagnosed with celiac disease, meaning, of course, that she has to eat gluten-free. This is a trying situation for any parent to be placed in, but it is doubly trying when your daughter is a picky eater who will only eat mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and plain cheese quesadillas when visiting restaurants. All these dishes in their traditional form do contain gluten, so our reader was wondering if we could point her toward a place with gluten-free mac and cheese. Even if one place serves GF mac and cheese, our reader’s life would be greatly enhanced. We’re all about enhancing the lives of our readers, and since this question has broad applicability to our audience, we figured we’d write an article about it.

We began our quest for gluten-free mac and cheese full of optimism. Boulder has tons of gluten-free dining options out there – we’d know, as we’ve been in the process of cataloging them for some time – so there are lots of places with gluten-free mac and cheese, surely?

Alas, not really, or so our research suggests. (And self, don’t call yourself “Shirley.” This joke doesn’t work quite as well when it is in print and self-referential.) Indeed, we were only able to find two restaurants in Boulder that have gluten-free mac and cheese as part of their official menu. The first is Native Foods, one of our favorite restaurants that has loads of gluten-free options. On the kids menu is Freddie’s Mac and Cheese, which is a gluten-free dish because it is made with quinoa pasta. (As our reader may have already learned, quinoa is practically a sacred food to those who eat gluten-free because it is healthy and can be used in place of a lot of gluten-containing ingredients.) Since our reader’s daughter is a picky eater, it is worth mentioning that Native Foods is an entirely vegan operation, so they don’t use real cheese. This is not to say it isn’t good, but it’s hard to predict a picky six-year-old’s reaction to vegan cheese.

The other restaurant with gluten-free mac and cheese is Shine, the “restaurant and gathering place” that by startling coincidence we just learned about. Shine’s menu is entirely gluten-free (or it basically is – you can get things like regular bread for a sandwich if you want to), and they have mac and cheese; thus, they have gluten-free mac and cheese. We hasten to add that the GF mac and cheese is only on the happy hour and late-night menu, so evidently it is only available during limited parts of the day. However, we aren’t certain that the dish can only be served during this time, and in our experience most restaurants are happy to accommodate their patrons, especially with food allergies.

This last point is of great importance to our reader: most restaurants will work with you when you explain your dietary needs, and we would be willing to bet that several restaurants are able to make something as simple as gluten-free mac and cheese (at least if you aren’t visiting during the rush) for our reader’s daughter. Lots of restaurants in Boulder have gluten-free pasta (especially Italian places like Pastavino), and with this primary ingredient in hand, they can probably whip up mac and cheese with relative ease. (We should add that when dealing with celiac disease, the restrictions can be even more demanding, as many people with this ailment have to be wary of cross-contamination, and can’t even have food that has been near other foods containing gluten, or that have been cooked with utensils that also cook foods with gluten, and so one must always ask about such things when on-site at the restaurant.)

This reasoning can of course be applied to the other staples of our reader’s daughter’s diet: grilled cheese sandwiches and cheese quesadillas. Gluten-free bread is even more prevalent at Boulder restaurants than gluten-free pasta, so, a fortiori, gluten-free grilled cheese sandwiches are available. It might be slightly harder to come across gluten-free cheese quesadillas because these call for corn tortillas, which don’t seem to come up all that often in restaurant dishes, but most Mexican restaurants will have them.

Unfortunately, we were only able to find two places that have gluten-free mac and cheese listed on their menus. But that said, we would like to offer this awesome and easy homemade gluten free (and vegan!) mac and cheese recipe from our sister site, The Happy Gluten-Free Vegan.

gluten free mac cheese

We obviously didn’t review every restaurant menu in Boulder, so there might be other places out there with the dish. Moreover, restaurants will often bend over backwards to address their customer’s needs, and it never hurts to ask the kitchen if they can make something that is not on the menu. We wish our reader the best of luck, and we extend our well wishes to other parents of picky gluten-free eaters.

Read Next Article » Shine Boulder and its 100% Gluten-Free Kitchen
Previous Article « Ozo Coffee of Boulder has an Admirably Large Selection of Gluten-Free Snacks

  1. Bev says:

    Amy’s makes the best frozen gluten free mac and cheese! Available at natural foods stores.

  2. Cooper John Young says:

    Im celiac and I found some realy good and afordable mac n cheese at Pasta Jays on Pearl St!

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