Philly is one of the most gluten-free friendly cities in the country. So much so, it's been called "the first gluten-free neighborhood in the U.S." It takes a lot of components to come together to make a great GF city.
It helps if your state is no stranger to the gluten-free way of life. Earlier this year, Gluten Free Travel Site named Pennsylvania the "World's Most Celiac-Friendly Destination." We examined this accolade in January.
We're lucky that Ambler, a Philly suburb, is the home of the NFCA (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.) The NFCA is "dedicated to increasing diagnoses of celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders and improving quality of life for those on a lifelong gluten-free diet." They accomplish these lofty goals by educating - patients, health-care providers, restaurants and food manufacturers. They hold events throughout the year which spread the word about celiac disease and introduce gluten-free products. Alice Bast, NFCA's founder and president, has testified before the FDA, advocating for better allergen labeling laws.
To be a great GF town, there must be plenty of gluten-free restaurants. NFCA offers Gluten-Free Resource Education and Awareness Training (GREAT) to restaurants all over the country. GREAT "empowers the food industry to provide safe gluten-free options for individuals and institutions" through a comprehensive training program for restaurants, their chefs and staff. Over 54 restaurants have completed GREAT training, among them The Capital Grille, The Palm, City Tavern as well as all of Iron Chef Jose Garces' fabulous eateries and Stephen Starr's sensational spots.
Zagat's blog lists 15 great restaurants in Where to Dine Gluten-Free in Philadelphia, among them Italian favorite Davio's (yes, REAL gluten-free pasta!), La Calaca Feliz and Cantina Feliz, Sampan and Iron Hill Brewery. These Philly favorites offer superb GF choices and staff that are knowledgeable.
Peter McAndrews' amazing Italian restaurants Modo Mio, Monsu, Paesano’s and Popolino in Philadelphia and La Porta in Media have delectable GF offerings. Read Michael Savett's interview with McAndrews in Gluten-Free Philly.
Speaking of Michael Savett, this lawyer/blogger is a local GF star. His blog Gluten Free Philly is chock-full of awesome first-hand reviews of restaurants, bakeries, stores and products. He and his blog have won numerous kudos, like the Readers' Choice Award in CBS Philadelphia's Most Valuable Blogger contest and was 2012's Accolades for Awareness recipient. His listing of restaurants is super-comprehensive and very user-friendly. When I'm looking for a place to eat, Gluten-Free Philly is the first place look. (Read my earlier article on Savett.)
We all know that Philly is a great sports town; but did you know that even the sports venues are gluten-free friendly? You can find lots of GF fare and even GF beer at Citizen's Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field and Wells Fargo Center. Yet one more reason to love the Phillies: GF cheesesteaks!
Philadelphia has been called "The City that Loves You Back." Once gluten-free eaters get a taste of our incredible fare, they're sure to agree.
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