Gluten Free Dining & Me….

Your palms are sweaty. You are jittery and nervous. You convulsively sip water and wring your damp hands. No, you are not someone coming off of a drug induced high. You are a gluten free diner attempting to dine out at a restaurant.
For those of you with Celiac Disease or severe gluten intolerance, you know exactly what I am talking about. GF Guy and I rarely dine out due to such circumstances. It is just not worth getting so worked up over, not to mention the risk factor.

However, in the past 2 weeks, I have had the distinct pleasure of dining at 2 restaurants where I had no fear!

The first:

Viitals Specialty Bakery and Lifestyle Cafe

6605 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Tel: 813.443.4567
Hours of operation:
Tuesday – Friday – 10am – 6pm
Saturday – 10am – 7pm
Sunday – 10am – 4pm
Monday – Closed

You may recall my review of Viitals crackers and muffins from a while back. Since that review, Ivan and his wife have opened a little cafe and bakery here in Tampa, FL. It is 100% gluten free, nut free, and soy free.
GF Guy and I stopped by one Saturday on our way to the dog park with Dickens. We ordered 2 Mediterranean Sandwiches, to go. (His with no onions or olives. Mine with no feta cheese.) Our sandwiches were prepared by Ivan, himself! He came out and gave us a big hug before taking our order from his adorable wife.
When we unwrapped our sandwiches, about an hour after they were prepared, we were in for the shock of our lives. These sandwiches were 100% crumb free! The bread did not fall apart or crumble in our hands! The in house made hummus and dressing were creamy and delicious! The veggies were crisp and fresh! I can not stop raving about our meal! We also bought some of Ivan’s Vegan & Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse. It was, in a word, A-MAZING!!!! So decadent and creamy, you would never guess it was vegan.
I am also addicted to Viitals’ Sesame & Flax crackers. They are a new flavor since my review, and are, in my opinion, the BEST!
If you live anywhere near Tampa, FL, you MUST visit Viitals Bakery and Cafe for a salad or sandwich. Trust me on this one! If you are not in the Tampa area, you can still order Ivan’s crackers and muffins online. He ships to anywhere in the U.S.!
See other reviews on
VIITALS Specialty Bakery & Lifestyle Cafe on Urbanspoon

Number Two:

Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

3636 Henderson Blvd.
Tampa, FL
phone: 813-872-6000
fax: 813-872-6007

Hours of operation:
Mon – Thur 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri and Sat 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 4 p.m. to 1o p.m.

Ethiopian food, in general, is naturally gluten free. Traditional Injera Bread is made from Teff flour, a gluten free grain flour. Unfortunately, most Ethiopian restaurants in the US have “americanized” their cuisine. Often, the Injera Bread is made from a combination of Teff flour and regular wheat flour. At Queen of Sheba, they are ready willing and able to prepare their Injera 100% gluten free using only Teff. They are extremely aware of the risks and dangers of cross contamination and address Celiac disease/gluten intolerance on their website.
GF Guy and I visited Queen of Sheba last night after I got off work. We sat outside at a tiny cafe table, where they allowed us to tie Dickens’ little red leash to the table legs. (Yes, we bring our dog everywhere we can.) I ordered the Vegetarian Sampler, a delicious sampling of Ye Misr Wot (Red split lentils simmered in finely chopped onion, garlic, ginger and seasoned with berbere), Ye Kik Alecha (Yellow split peas simmered in finely chopped onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric powder), Ye Tikil Gomen (Chopped cabbage and carrots stewed in a mild sauce) and Gomen (Chopped collard greens steamed and seasoned with garlic and jalapeno peppers) and the Gluten Free Injera Bread. The owners’ wife prepared our Injera Bread and meals, herself! (I love when the owners are the ones running the restaurant!)
The meal itself was an aromatic blend of spices and flavors. The experience of traditional Ethiopian dining was something unique all together! We LOVED using the soft, spongy Injera Bread and our fingers to scoop up our food. It was like being a little kid all over again!
If you are in the Tampa area and enjoy unique dining experiences, this is the restaurant for you!

Two wonderful Gluten Free dining options right here in Tampa Bay! Who would have thought?

Today’s Birthday Question:
What is the best birthday gift you have ever given?


One thought on “Gluten Free Dining & Me….

  1. I'm so glad you had a good experience! I know how stressful gluten-free dining can be! I've basically given up on eating out, unless it's a gluten-free place (which, luckily for me, there are a bunch in Manhattan). I really miss the thai place around the block from me (I can smell it sometimes), but after being told my meal was gluten-free and then learning it had soy sauce in it, I'm afraid to go back.I have a feeling more and more gluten-free places are going to crop up though!

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