If you or someone you know has to stick to a strictly gluten-free diet, you know that eating out, especially while traveling, can be a very daunting task.  Something that seems so simple can now sometimes be so difficult that it’s almost not worth the trouble.

But, with a little research and a lot of patience, you can learn how to make eating out on a gluten-free diet an enjoyable experience, and not sacrifice quality of your meal in the process.

Some restaurants, and some cities, obviously, do gluten-free better than others.  One of the most gluten-free-friendly cities on the eastern half of the United States is the city of Asheville, North Carolina.   A city with a population of under 100,000 has figured out gluten-free better than many of its larger counterparts.

Gluten-Free Vanderbilt Style
If you are a tourist in Asheville, without question you will want to visit the Biltmore Estate.  Built between 1889 and 1895 by George Washington Vanderbilt II, grandson of the Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, Biltmore Estate is the largest privately-owned home in the United States, at 135,000 square feet, and features an astounding 250 rooms.  With over 900,000 annual visitors, Biltmore is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the U.S.

With the massive expanse of the Biltmore grounds, visitors can easily spend an entire day touring the mansion, gardens and shops.  In order to spend a full day there, however, you will need to make plans for lunch; if you are gluten-free, this doesn’t mean you will have to pack your own.  Stable Café is located at the end of the stable area next to the house, and features an extensive gluten-free menu.

The Stable Café allows gluten-free visitors of Biltmore to tour the mansion in the morning, rest while having a splendid lunch, and then tour the gardens and the rest of the grounds in the afternoon.

Downtown Dining
Asheville has a quaint, pedestrian-friendly downtown area, replete with shops, restaurants, parks and interesting architecture, all within walking distance of one-another.  If you are spending the day in downtown Asheville, there are several great gluten-free options.  The first and most exciting for gluten-free enthusiasts is Posana Café.

The first thing visitors will notice about Posana is that it does not have a separate gluten-free menu; this is because the ENTIRE restaurant is gluten-free!  No worrying about cross-contamination, separate grills or long explanations to the server; from its creative appetizers to its amazing lineup of desserts, Posana is a gluten-free paradise.  You can even call ahead to order whole cakes, pastries and loaves of break for pick-up.

In addition to Posana, Wall Street in downtown is a great place to do gluten-free.  Wall Street is a picturesque side street with a mix of unique shops and restaurants, including Laughing Seed Café, which touts itself as having organic, seasonal, farm-to-table vegetarian cuisine.  If you’re looking for something more upscale, The Market Place is also located on Wall Street; although they do not have a specific gluten-free menu, their nationally-recognized chef is familiar with, and willing to be creative for, gluten-free patrons.

In addition to all of the great dining out selections downtown, if you needed a night in after a day of touring, Mellow Mushroom offers a great gluten-free pizza that can be delivered straight to your hotel room.

Meal on a Hill
Another tourist staple in Asheville is The Grove Park Inn, a Southern landmark built in 1913.  This resort hotel and spa sits on the side of a mountain with a beautiful view of the surrounding area, and has housed such famous people as Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and George Gershwin, in addition to 10 United States Presidents.

Blue Ridge Dining Room at Grove Park Inn offers stunning views across Western Carolina, and a dinner menu that features prime rib, cold water lobster and local favorite Appalachian Paella.  The extensive menu has options that are both naturally gluten-free, and some that can be tailored gluten-free.  Each item that is or can be gluten-free is clearly marked on the general menu for ease of ordering.

If you are deciding where to travel this summer, consider Asheville, North Carolina,  which not only provides great tourist attractions, but first-class gluten-free dining as well.