Do you remember the first time you went to a restaurant after your diagnosis?
You scanned the menu, mentally ticking off the items, Can't eat that. Can't eat that. Can't eat that. And the few menu items that may have been a possibility? Well, you were pretty sure they either had hidden gluten in them or that the restaurant staff would probably screw up and put croutons in your salad or lie to you about thickening their soup with flour. You told the waiter about your food allergy 500 times before ordering, asked to speak to the manager, double checked that the kitchen knew how very serious your gluten intolerance was when the now annoyed waiter placed your iceberg lettuce salad and boiled potato in front of you ...and then didn't eat any of it because you saw a speck of "might be gluten, might be pepper" on your plate.
While that might be an extreme example, the first few times you eat out, it's like walking into a gluten minefield.
I guess that's why I was so surprised when I went to Luchita's last week and almost forgot to tell them about my gluten issue. That's right, I've become so comfortable eating there, I practically assumed I was going to be safe. Of course, I double checked with the waitress if my favorite dish - the vegetarian enchiladas, stuffed with potatoes, spinach, and cheese and covered in a green sauce - was still made with gluten free, all corn tortillas (and yes, it was), but its a good feeling to be so secure at a restaurant that I knew I'd be as safe as if I'd ordered that iceberg lettuce standby.
Luchita's has a pretty sizable menu, with three or four dishes they're happy to provide vegetarian versions of. Of course, if you eat meat, the menu opens up a great deal more to you as it does at most any restaurant. But if you steer clear of typical gluten strong holds - the floury tortillas of quesadillas come to mind - you're pretty sure to be safe with almost any dish you choose. As you should before ordering anything, you should always ask your server just what is in the food - and on that note, I've always food the waiters and waitresses at Luchita's more than happy to double check with the cooks on anything they weren't sure about.
Luchita's has four locations - three on the Westside and one in Cleveland. Us Eastsiders used to have a Luchita's at Shaker Square, but it closed its doors earlier this year (as did most places at Shaker Square, but that's a whole other topic for another time). While it might be a bit of a hike (or a schlep, depending on just what part of the Eastside your on), it's well worth it. Authentic Mexican food at it's best, that is, the kind that's naturally gluten free.