Sometimes the thought of eating out and being able to actually eat something in a restaurant can become daunting, and in the end many just stay home to eat. But with the diversity of restaurants in Chicago it is more common than one might think to find a satisfying meal, and what better way than to go out for a dinner and a music show, just like all of the gluten-eaters. This has always been one of my favorite ways to spend an evening, and I am determined not to let having to eat gluten-free get in my way.
Fortunately, there are many great venues in the city to catch a good indie band and many of these venues have dining options just next door that can accommodate the gluten-free eater.
Bite Café, next-door to one of my favorite venues, the Empty Bottle, at 1035 N. Western Avenue on the edge of Wicker Park, is literally next door and owned by the venue, and has a varied selection of gluten-free items. Their dishes are unique, reasonably priced and healthy, and offer many vegetarian items as well. They also suggest that you could let hem know ahead of time and the can prepare something that isn’t normally so to be gluten-free, but it is not necessary and there will be food available to eat. Some of the upcoming shows at the Empty Bottle, include Prefuse 73 1/24, DJ Krush 1/27 and Four Tet 2/19.
The Double Door, in the heart of Wicker Park at 1572 N. Milwaukee, North and Damen has a few gluten-free choices in the immediate area. Directly next-door is Francesca’s Forno, a local chain, which actually has its own separate gluten-free menu. For something a bit quicker and more casual, you can walk a couple of blocks west on North Avenue and hit Sultan’s Market at 2057 North Avenue. They have delicious homemade falafel, veggie combos and lentil soup, as well as several meat dishes. Continue west on North Avenue and you can go to Handlebar at 2311 North Avenue. They also have several gluten-free items to choose from, such as my favorite catfish tacos, ground nut stew and unique salads among other choices. Some up and coming shows to catch at the Double Door include Chicago’s own Blah Blah Blah 1/26, Nick Oliveri 2/1, Polysics 2/10, Evan Dando 2/19, Mission of Burma 4/10 and The Wedding Present 4/16.
In Logan Square, Lula Cafe is located next-door to the Logan Square Auditorium at 2537 North Kedzie. Lula Cafe has several organic and gluten-free options such as the maki rolls and salads on their cafe menu. Their dinner menu includes specials that can be made gluten-free and their brunch includes many egg dishes that are safe as well as potatoes that are cooked in a designated area. The current manager, Sara, of Lula is the former manager of Rose’s Wheat Free Bakery and Café in Evanston and is extremely knowledgeable in cross-contamination issues as well as their kitchen staff. Upcoming shows at the Logan Square Auditorium include The Residents 2/15 and the Black Lips 4/1.
Harmony Grill is located next-door and owned by Scubas at 3159 N. Southport in Lakeview. You can actually go from one to the other without stepping foot outside. They have several gluten-free options including their chili, salads and sandwiches served without the bread, among other items. For another eating choice there is FlatTop Grill, a local chain, directly across the corner at 3200 N. Southport, that offers gluten-free sauces for their stir-fry. Their web site also thoroughly lists what choices are safe for many different allergies and intolerances. Upcoming shows at Schubas include Band of Heathens 1/27, Movits! 1/31 and Wild Beasts 2/18-19.