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Gluten-free restaurant options that won't bust your budget

Enjoy grilled-over-mesquite-wood fajitas at La Hacienda Ranch restaurants in North Texas
Enjoy grilled-over-mesquite-wood fajitas at La Hacienda Ranch restaurants in North Texaswww.laharanch.com

There are a lot of chain restaurants in Plano and even more in our big city neighbor, Dallas. Many people tend to lump all chain restaurants into one designation - unhealthy fast food. Some of those places would would fit that description (even though most of them have some sort of salad on their menus). Every so often though, there are some national chains that rise to the occasion to being healthy, fast, and with gluten-free options . Here are five restaurants you can find in and around Plano with many having locations elsewhere, too.

  1. Chipotle Mexican Grill: Not only can you find this chain everywhere, you can also use their website's nutrition calculator to choose the ingredients to make the exact item you want to eat in their stores. http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/nutrition_calculator/nutrition_calculator.aspx
    Whether you are watching calories, fat, or protein, and are eating gluten-free, all this information is on their website to serve you. See this webpage for special diet information:
    http://www.chipotle.com/en-us/menu/special_diet_information/special_diet_information.aspx
  2. Domino's Pizza: Have it delivered or go to one of their many stores for pick-up, the gluten-free pizza crust offered by Domino's is crunchy and tasty topped with their spicy marinara and your choice of other meats and veggies. Domino's has a smartphone app that you can download for free, and when ordering a gluten-free pizza crust on it, you will be reminded about the potential for cross-contamination (which they also tell you about when you phone in an order, too). Insider's tip: Domino's has weekly coupon offers (none of them mention their gluten-free pizza crust). If you call and ask if they will accept a coupon for your gluten-free order, many locations will - especially if you are a regular customer. See their website's nutritional page and be prepared to be impressed: https://order.dominos.com/en/pages/content/nutritional/nutrition.jsp
  3. Zoe's Kitchen: OPA! Great Greek salads and other tasty Mediterranean dishes that are gluten-free are found at Zoe's. A particular favorite is the 'Greek Salad Trio' with tuna salad, Greek slaw, and potato salad (tell them to omit the pita bread). This salad is big and tasty. The only component of it with a light mayonnaise dressing is the tuna, and the others are dressed lightly with olive oil, herbs and spices - healthy, yummy, and a bargain. To learn about the goodness of all Zoe's food see: http://zoeskitchen.com/About-Zoes.aspx
  4. Mooyah Burgers: Order the Ice Burger - all the great things about a burger without the bun - for a gluten-free indulgence. Your burger comes wrapped in iceburg lettuce leaves along with the toppings you can select of cheese, bacon, or veggies for an easy-to-eat sandwich. Be mindful of possible cross-contamination with an order of fries (regular or sweet potato), if you need to be. Read all about their menu and nutrition: http://www.mooyah.com/menu_nutrition/
  5. La Hacienda Ranch: If you live in Plano or nearby, count yourself as one of the lucky ones to have a La Hacienda near you. If you don't, make sure when you visit the area to dine at a La Hacienda for authentic, grilled-over-mesquite-wood Tex-Mex fajitas with all the fresh made fixin's. Remember to ask for the house-made corn tortillas (instead of the flour ones) for gluten-free goodness. Go at mid-day and enjoy their fajitas for the lunch special price. Have a knock-your-socks-off frozen Margarita to wash it all down, and celebrate the man who created the first frozen Margarita machine (inducted into the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington, D.C., in October, 2005). http://www.laharanch.com/lahaciendaranch/home_laha.htm

Have a great weekend, and next week the topic featured will be converting everyday recipes to gluten-free ones. For convenience, you can subcribe to this column to receive email updates and links when new articles are published.