I recently had the pleasure of going to a large fast food chain and ordering a burger on a gluten-free bun. The gluten-free buns were available at every location in the country and extreme care was taken by the staff to avoid cross-contamination.
The name of this particular fast food chain is Burger Ranch.
Now, I’d be very surprised if you’ve heard of Burger Ranch. The reason? It’s a large fast food chain in Israel and unfortunately, I don’t think they plan on expanding to the United States any time soon.
Well, unless you’re going to Israel in the near future; that leaves you with the gluten-free options at American fast food chains.
Our review of gluten-free fast food options continues this week as we explore Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Sonic, Little Caesar’s, Jack in the Box, Papa Murphy’s, Einstein Bagels and Checkers.
Taco Bell’s Gluten-Free Options
If you’ve been craving Mexican food, now is your chance to eat at Taco Bell with their new Cantina Bowl, which consists of citrus-herb marinated chicken, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo (roasted corn and pepper salsa), drizzled with a creamy cilantro dressing and served on a bed of Latin rice. It’s also available in steak or veggie.
Other than that, the menu’s off limits except for the pintos ‘n cheese, Latin rice, black beans and rice, cheesy nachos, XXL steak nachos or chips and salsa. A word of caution on the nachos and chips, though; the menu says they’re prepared in common equipment.
Wendy’s Gluten-Free Options
According to the Wendy’s published gluten-free menu, the applewood smoked bacon hamburger patty is gluten-free, but it “may come in contact with gluten-containing foods during preparation.” The ultimate chicken grill fillet is a safe bet, however, as are all of their baked potatoes as well as the chili.
Salads are always a good choice (hold the croutons), especially the Baja chili salad, and the seasoned tortilla strips are made with corn and are also gluten-free. Try a frosty shake for dessert, or the apple slices. Check with your local restaurant to find out if they use a dedicated fryer for their French fries.
Sonic’s Gluten-Free Menu
Sonic Drive-In offers a number of gluten-free choices, including the bunless hamburger patty, bacon, breakfast sausage, sliced ham, pork and beef hot dogs, Philly steak, grilled onions, red and green peppers, French fries, potato tots, all cheeses, Fritos corn chips, apple slices, Sonic mint, all sandwich toppings, dressings and condiments.
Most of the dessert items are safe except for the Oreo cookie topping, malt powder, graham cracker crumbs and ice cream cones. There is a possibility of gluten cross-contamination from fried items, so it’s best to check with the manager as to whether that particular restaurant has a dedicated gluten-free fryer.
Little Caesars’ Gluten-Free Menu
Apart from beverages, Little Caesars has virtually no gluten-free items on the menu – in the United States, anyway. Little Caesars restaurants in Australia have introduced gluten-free pizzas in a variety of specialties, including vegetarian, seafood, meat, chicken and even dessert pizzas, which are doing quite well Down Under. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time before they bring the gluten-free crusts to the United States!
Jack in the Box Gluten-Free Menu
Jack in the Box does not list specific menu items that are gluten-free, but they do provide a listing of all ingredients used on their menu and allergens they contain. Apart from a bunless hamburger patty or grilled chicken fillet, the best choices are the grilled chicken salad, chicken club or Southwest chicken salad with grilled instead of crispy chicken.
While the croutons are obvious off-limits, the spicy corn sticks are okay, as are most of the sauces and dressings, with the exception of the teriyaki sauce. Breakfast options are the scrambled eggs, bacon and sausage and for desert they offer a variety of gluten-free ice cream shakes (skip the Oreo cookie version) and a root beer float.
Papa Murphy’s Gluten-Free Menu
Papa Murphy’s is not recommended for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. The only menu items that do not contain gluten are the Caesar salad without dressing or croutons, the Mediterranean salad without dressing or croutons, and the nacho cheese sauce. While the salad dressings do not actually contain gluten, they are listed as containing ingredients that have been manufactured in a facility that shares common equipment with gluten-containing ingredients. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to eat at a Papa Murphy’s, it’s best to bring your own salad dressing to be on the safe side.
Einstein Bros. Bagels Gluten-Free Menu
As the name implies, Einstein Bros. sells bagels, and all of their bagels are made with wheat flour. So even though all of the lovely toppings are gluten-free, it doesn’t help if there is nothing to “shmear” them on. They do offer a wide variety of hot and cold beverages, specialty coffee drinks, lattes, etcetera, which are all gluten-free, so stopping in for a morning java or a cold lemonade on a hot afternoon is not out of the question. Other fairly safe side items are the fruit cup / fruit salad, potato salad, garden salad, strawberry chicken salad, chipotle chicken salad, the strawberry banana smoothie and the ultimate blueberry smoothie.
Checkers Gluten-Free Menu
All of Checkers / Rally’s Classic Wings are listed as gluten-free, in flavors ranging from honey BBQ to extra hot, parmesan garlic, Asian kick and medium buffalo. The only other items listed are vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and banana milkshakes. Unfortunately, they do not list separate items such as bunless burgers and hot dogs. Check with the manager if you are interested in those items. All of the French fries are listed as containing gluten.