Category Archives: Restaurants

Be Sure To Ask For Luigi

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. It’s been a challenging year.

Sorry this is not about Los Angeles. Really, really sorry because I’d eat here all the time.

My wife and I are in Vancouver to go on an Alaskan cruise, and a quick internet search turned up this review of Ask For Luigi on the Gluten Free Vancouver blog.

Thank you, Andrea and Robyn, for the post.


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Pizza Rev Responds

Yesterday I was craving pizza at lunch and my go-to place was closed. A trip into the new Pizza Rev restaurant scared me a bit seeing the opportunity for cross-contamination. Despite the assurances on the web site.

They have a contact form on their web site so I asked if there was something I didn’t see. Within a couple hours I had a response!

Hi Theron,

Yes, we use a totally different process.  When you order
gluten-free crust at PizzaRev, we ask you whether you are
ordering for "Preference or Allergy".  When you respond
allergies, we have all of our sauces in bottles and never
use the ladles.  Our staff will walk your pizza down our
line using fresh gloves, then it goes into our oven on a
special pie-tin to avoid contamination from the oven.

We take our guests safety very seriously, but of course,
we can't make any guarantees despite all these extra safety
measures.  Next time you're there, maybe you can ask a
manager to explain the process and we will show you how we
do it so you can decide for yourself.

Thanks for your email, Theron!


Jeff Zuckerman
PizzaRev - Guest Relations

Well, that certainly sounds promising. So I decided to wander in after the lunch rush today.

Everything went the way Jeff described. It is very refreshing to see a restaurant differentiate between people wanting to reduce the amount of wheat they are eating for personal preference and those who have medical reasons to avoid it (allergies or Celiac).



After I said I had an allergy, the server immediately changed her gloves (without being asked!), went down to the end of the line and grabbed a clean pizza tray and put my pizza crust on it. The sauce came from a squeeze bottle, and they had a stack of clean ladles to use for spreading (one use only!). Very nice.

The pizza was pretty good. The rice-based crust is actually very similar to ZPizza – thin and crispy, with a slight spongy texture. I had a red sauce pizza with mozzarella and pepperoni (I always have a ribeye the first time at a steak restaurant just to compare the basics). The sauce was a tad sweet for my taste, and the cheese is a bit plasticy (low moisture mozzarella can get that way). But it was pizza and it was yummy.

I will be going back and trying some of the many choices they offer. It’s good to have a lunchtime pizza option.

The Pizza Situation In Burbank Is Getting Worse

I have been working in Burbank since before I was diagnosed with my wheat/rye/barley allergies. Lunchtime pizza options have always been limited. Unfortunately, they have gotten worse. But there may be a silver lining here.

There was a Garlic Jim’s Pizza over on Glenoaks, and they have an OK pizza crust and they took care to avoid cross contamination. But they were a franchise and they became an independent pizza place called Gourmet Crust Pizza.

I probably ate there once a week, but then I started having bad experiences. Food poisoning, feeling generally icky, etc. So I have stopped eating there.

There was a ZPizza in the media district, and I like their crust – it’s not a fluffy traditional crust, but for a thin and crispy crust it’s not bad. I used to go there when I was working on Flower Street, right across the freeway overpass.

Today I was craving pizza, and since Gourmet Crust was out of the picture, I headed for ZPizza. Only to find them closed. Le sigh.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to that area, so I have no idea when they closed. It was recently enough that the sign is still up and there was still paper up in the windows. But long ago enough that there were hard hats inside installing a new restaurant.

Then I saw a couple kids with pizza boxes. And almost across the walkway (this is Palm Ave, which used to be a street that ran in front of the old AMC theater, but is now a pedestrian mall, with the new AMC theater across the way) is a Pizza Rev.

A quick bit of google-foo on my phone tells me they have a gluten-free crust. Okay, let’s go check them out.

They build the pizza in front of you, like Subway or Chipotle. And what I saw freaked me out a bit – they have vats of their sauce options on the line, and they use the ladle to spread out the sauce on the crust. And then they stick it back in the vat.

From their website:

*PizzaRev makes a concerted effort to avoid
gluten-contamination but we are unable to
guarantee against cross contamination.
Guests with gluten sensitivities should
carefully consider dining choices.

This seems like an obvious source of cross-contamination. It’s the reason to ask for spread on the side at In-N-Out – they put the spatula back into the spread after putting it on the buns. I have contacted them to ask about this, but have not heard back yet.


The silver lining here is the restaurant that will be replacing ZPizza – AsianBox. Their poster says “Gluten Free”:

The Revolution Will Be Eaten

The Revolution Will Be Eaten

Aharn Dtam Sang is Thai street food, I think. It looks like they have a wide variety of rice/rice noodle dishes made to order.

Asian Box

Asian Box

This looks promising. I look forward to trying it when they open.

GF Tax Free Pei Wei Diner

Pei Wei Asian Diner is kind of the fast casual version of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro. If they seem kind of similar, it’s because they’re owned by the same investment firm. The menus are different, but have some overlap. And both offer solid gluten free offerings.

Looking at the menu in the restaurant, you probably wouldn’t guess they had gluten free options. Most Americanized Asian food is very wheat heavy. You have to ask for the gluten free menu at the counter, and they will hand you a small laminated menu to order from.

It’s a smallish menu. There are basically two entrees and a salad, each with a choice of proteins, plus a couple of appetizers. (No GF lettuce wraps, unfortunately.)

The best thing is that (unlike P.F. Chang’s) there’s no GF Tax – the gluten free items are the same price as the regular versions.

(Yeah, I know that P.F. Chang’s and Pei Wei aren’t “real” Asian food. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat there. But I sometimes get a craving for sweet and sour chicken, so I’m happy to have the Pei Wei option.)

Thanks For The Honest Answer, Blaze Pizza

People don’t believe me when I tell them that I don’t remember what bread tastes like, but it’s true. It’s just not something I miss; I don’t even eat any of the many GF breads that are available. But pizza is a craving that I don’t think will ever go away.

I can’t be alone, since pizza restaurants offering gluten free crusts have become commonplace.

Unfortunately, “gluten free” is now a marketing buzzphrase, particularly in places like Los Angeles where people subject themselves to weird dietary restrictions for no good reason. On one hand, this means there are more places to eat for those of us who actually need to avoid wheat, rye, and barley for actual health reasons. But it also means you have to figure out how committed a restaurant is to keeping your meal gluten free.

The newly-opened Culver Crossroads Shopping Center in Culver City is a haven for fast food GF diners. There’s a Chipotle, a Pei Wei, and a Jersey Mike’s. All of which good GF options for diners.

There’s also a Blaze Pizza, which has a gluten free crust option. Awesome! They even have an allergen information page on their web site showing common allergens (soy, wheat, dairy, nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, pork).

Just be sure to read the small print. At the bottom of the allergen information page, there’s a footnote: “*We work with wheat based dough and share equipment with our gluten-free dough. Some cross contact may occur.”

Never mind that there’s no asterisk on the page above referring you to the footnote. Or that it reads like boilerplate CYA legal. You have to look at the FAQ page to get the real information:

How gluten-free is it?
If you are simply looking to reduce the amount of gluten
in your diet and don’t want to give up on pizza, we offer
a delicious gluten free crust option, made in-house daily
from European non-GMO gluten-free ingredients. Please be
aware that our folks work with wheat-based flour and pizza
dough all day long, and we use the same oven and dough
press for both gluten-free and standard dough, so there
is a good chance of some cross-contact in our restaurants.
If you would like us to change our gloves or use a separate
pizza cutter, we would be happy to do that at your
request. If you are celiac or highly sensitive to gluten,
we encourage you to carefully consider your dining choices.

In other words: we don’t try to reduce – let alone eliminate – cross-contamination at all, so if you really don’t want to eat any wheat, don’t eat here.

It’s actually refreshing to see this much relevant information on a restaurant’s website. Normally, I would need to go into the restaurant and talk to an employee about what precautions they take. My decision to eat there or not depends on the answers I get and how informed and concerned the random employee seems to be. Which may not be an entirely fair method. But I can be as cautious or reckless as I want to be.

So thanks, Blaze Pizza. I won’t be eating your pizza, but I’m glad I don’t have to find out the hard way that your “gluten free” pizza really isn’t.

P.F. Chang’s GF Tax

I love P.F. Chang’s and the fact that they put a gluten free items right on the menu.

Today is my birthday and I’ve been craving P.F. Chang’s lately, so we that’s where we went for dinner. The menu was re-designed since I was last there. Giselle noticed that the GF Ginger Chicken With Broccoli was a dollar more expensive than the non GF-version of the same dish. We asked the waiter about it and he wasn’t sure why it was more. Maybe the GF sauce was more expensive, he said.

Turns out all of the dishes (except for the Egg Drop Soup) are more expensive on the GF menu.

By one dollar. Each dish.

The menu says this about the GF menu:

All Gluten Free items are served on a special plate with the P.F. Chang’s logo. These menu items are either gluten free as prepared, or are modified to be gluten free.

The following ingredients are used in P.F. Chang’s gluten free sauces: chicken broth, oyster sauce, rice wine, sugar, water, wheat free soy sauce and white pepper. The marinades for beef, pork, chicken, shrimp and scallops are gluten free and contain cornstarch. The soy sauce on the table is not gluten free. Please ask your server for our gluten free soy sauce.

I’ve honestly never compared the GF menu pricing. It’s probably always been that way. But why? There’s nothing particularly expensive in that list of ingredients. Certainly they use all that stuff in the kitchen anyway. Maybe not cornstarch, but cornstarch is so cheap it is basically free (at least the teaspoon they use of it).

I appreciate that they go out of their way to make it possible for GF folks to eat there. It may cost them to stock ingredients they might not otherwise use. But by being generally GF friendly, they’re getting customers they wouldn’t otherwise have.

Given their prices, an extra dollar isn’t that much money. But I feel like I’m being punished for having a wheat allergy and patronizing their restaurant.

We pointed out the extra cost on the ginger chicken to our waiter. Without us asking, he deducted a dollar from our bill, which was rather excellent of him. But we paid the extra dollar on the other three things we ordered off the GF menu.

I expect upscale prices when I go to P.F. Chang’s. It’s not an everyday restaurant. And I never objected to the GF menu prices. And them being careful and using special ingredients is worth something. But it seems an arbitrary and nonsensical upcharge for something I’d think they would be willing to do to for their customers.

Santa Catalina

When eating out is difficult, travelling to unfamiliar places becomes almost impossible.

Sunday was my seventh wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, my wife planned a trip to Catalina Island. It was my first trip, despite having lived in Los Angeles more than 20 years.

Catalina is only about 20 miles off the coast of L.A., a one-hour boat ride from San Pedro or Long Beach (or 15 minutes by helicopter). We actually drove farther to the port at San Pedro than the boat carried us to the island. Once there, it feels a million miles away. It’s well worth the trip, even if for a day. There is quite a lot of stuff to do on the island, some of it very active, some of it very laid back.

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Chipotle is a Celiac’s best friend in the fast food business. Mexican food has a high potential for gluten-free options (it is a largely corn-based cuisine), but Chipotle is especially helpful in that they have few ingredients, they are prepared simply, and they are very open about their food.

Chipotley publishes an allergen information card which can be seen on their web site in their Special Diet Information page.

Of course, things are always changing, so it’s always advisable to check with them for the latest information. When I last asked them, I was told I just needed to stay away from the flour tortillas (of course) and probably the hot salsa, as they allow each store to source the vinegar used individually, and while they tend to use distilled vinegar, which is not a problem, it’s beyond the chain’s control so they can’t guarantee its GF status.

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In-N-Out Burger is one of our city’s treasures. And fortunately, they’re pretty allergy-friendly, if only because of their simple menu. Unless you’re allergic to beef, voor of course.


Basically, wholesale NFL jerseys you can get a burger (in a few different configurations), french fries, and a drink. The burger options involve number of patties, cheap jerseys cheese, and condiments.

There is also the infamous secret menu – which includes the “protein style” burger – wrapped in lettuce instead of on a bun. In theory, a double-double, protein style, is gluten-free.

I wholesale jerseys say “in theory” because there are a lot of opportunities for cross-contamination. They toast down the buns on the grill, and while there is usually separation between the buns and the other things, things get pretty busy in the kitchen sometimes, so 1 I don’t doubt that wholesale Minnesota Vikings jerseys shortcuts are taken.

Most of the restaurants have fairly open kitchens, and you can watch the operations from the dining room or the drive-through. So you 2 can observe and judge for yourself.

The other area of concern – one of those stealth sources of contamination – is the spread. Essentially Thousand Island dressing, it is crazy yummy on the Contact burgers and fries. Peeps And they spread it on the bun with a spatula which keeps going back into the vat of spread, so the potential for bits of bun to get into the spread is pretty great. Fortunately, they offer pre-packaged spread in packets. Just ask cheap jerseys for a side of spread and you’ll get a bun-free packet.

My order is “Number one, plain and protein style, with a side of spread.”