Eating Out : Best Gluten Free Options in Des Moines Area


If you or someone in your family eats a gluten-free diet, you know how hard it can be to find good options when eating out. Here are some Des Moines area restaurants with gluten free options we like.

Many restaurants have special prep kitchens or gluten-sensitive menus. Many restaurants are accommodating and understanding of people’s dietary needs. I have to eat gluten-free due to a severe allergy and my son has a dairy and egg allergy. All of these food challenges can make eating out a challenge. But that has changed as more restaurants have made accommodations for food allergies! 

Here’s a list of restaurants in Des Moines and Ames to hopefully show the wide variety available. I chose each restaurant for specific reasons. Whether it was taste and quality of food, knowledge and attentiveness of the staff, or overall gluten-free options for a family. I would love to hear where other moms like to take their kiddos!

Gluten-Free Options for Dining Out

Louie’s Wine Dive

This is my top place to visit when I am looking for excellent gluten-free meals. I know the food will be delicious every time. I have friends who have eaten with me and they could not tell that my food was prepared any different than theirs. They make ‘squeaky cheese’ which is similar to a cheese curd using rice flour. I could eat this as a main dish. It is amazing to finally have a restaurant that has fried cheesy goodness that is safe for me to eat! Also, the ‘Funky Chicken Sandwich’ is a buttermilk fried chicken sandwich topped with white cheddar, homemade pickles, field greens, and sriracha aioli. And I highly recommend indulging in a slice of the Chocolate Torte with berry coulis. A touch of heaven on a fork. 

Gastro Grub and Pub

If you’re in Waukee check out Gastro Grub and Pub. They have outdoor seating with a lounge area and a dining space. As a pub they are known for their beer selections. I enjoy the many vegan and gluten free options they provide. My favorite dish is the Veggie Street Tacos. These include sweet potato, black beans, avocado, pepitas, feta, and cilantro. The best part are the house made corn tortillas. You can taste the freshness. They are the standout in the dish. Make sure to let the server know that you have a gluten allergy so the kitchen staff is well aware. That was a tip our last server informed us of. When I know that the staff is taking my allergy seriously, I want to support that business more. 

Cornbread Barbecue, Ames

Located in the old Train Depot on Main Street, Cornbread Barbeque has made a name for themselves. Living in Ames, this is my favorite restaurant to frequent because they have the best barbeque pork shoulder. I am not a red meat connoisseur but I can tell when a pork shoulder is smoked to perfection. And this is the best I have had. The sides are equally delicious with a creamy pineapple slaw and apple pork and beans. Our family will share a few sides and order a pound of meat. The portions are generous and fill up our family well.

At Cornbread, you will get what you pay for. The prices equal the quality of food. The wait staff is attentive and helpful. Especially if you have a 3-year-old who loves the trains that pass by directly behind the depot. We have had times where they will come and tell him when they are arriving so that he is ready to watch them. 

Main Street Cafe & Bakery

Main Street Cafe & Bakery is a staple in Ankeny. I love their gluten free bakery goods. They have the best monster cookies according to my friend Kelli. They are the perfect blend of crispy and chewy. Main Street offers delicious gluten free soups and salads like Chicken Tortilla Soup and Asian Chicken Salad.

My favorite meal is the Blackened Salmon Rice Bowl. It’s made with diced tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and avocado on a bed of wild rice. They then top with blackened salmon and lemon vinaigrette. Healthy and delicious! I like being able to walk in and pick up a gluten sensitive treat when I am out and about in Ankeny. They have plenty of seating and also have a drive-through lane that makes pick up very easy. This is especially important as a mom of 4 who is constantly on the go. 

With new places popping up that are offering gluten free or sensitive foods it seems that options will be plentiful soon. Since I live in Ames, I frequent more of the north metro restaurants. I would love to hear about what other places are tops on other moms lists. Whether it is just for a sweet treat or a full meal! Shoot me an email or message below so I can add new places to try! 

What are your favorite gluten-free options in the Des Moines area?

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Elizabeth’s crazy clan includes Elizabeth Rain (2007), Sophia (2011), Will (2017) and Evie Grace (2019) and husband, Mike. You will read posts ranging from co-parenting, being a stepmom and mom simultaneously to mental health in moms. Please reach out to Elizabeth with any questions or stories of your own as she loves to engage with other moms. By sharing stories and listening to other moms’ happys, crappys, and sappys we better ourselves. Growth comes from having a group of moms that challenge you and empower you to be a better version of yourself each day.


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