By Grace Williams*
It's not easy being gluten-free.
But in Richmond, it's not as difficult as one might expect. The growing “foodie scene” in RVA seems to recognize the need in the community to provide options for all types of alternative diets, such as vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo, etc. I’m certainly not the only picky eater around.
Nowadays what I look for in a restaurant is friendly menu labels and delicious gluten-free options. The saddest part about converting my diet is that some places just don’t provide great alternatives. Sure, I can always order a salad (without croutons), but who wants that every day? I love food. Good food. That hasn’t changed at all in the past year and a half since I became gluten-free.
Of course I still miss pizza and beer and pasta, but I don’t miss feeling terrible. Luckily, I’ve found some places where I don’t feel like I’m compromising on what I really want to eat.
Brunch in particular can be a tricky meal to navigate for the gluten-sensitive population - after all, it’s abundant with biscuits, waffles, and french toast. There’s a lot of online menu research involved before I can go out to brunch with friends. So with the second annual Richmond Brunch Weekend just a few days away, I’ve done the research for you and provided a guide to participating in Richmond Brunch Weekend 2017 on a gluten-free diet.
How To Eat Gluten-Free For Richmond Brunch Weekend 2017
The Daily is a great option (which I’ve reviewed below) and comes highly recommended by this author. I haven’t tried the other places personally, but their menus look delicious and gluten-friendly. Each restaurant listed below has clearly labeled GF options on their websites.
1. The Daily Kitchen & Bar [participating Saturday in Richmond Brunch Weekend]
3. The Savory Grain [participating Saturday and Sunday]
4. Postbellum [participating Saturday and Sunday]
5. The Boathouse [participating Sunday at all three locations]
6. East Coast Provisions [participating Sunday]
7. Southbound [participating Sunday]
8. The Camel [participating Sunday]
9. Cafe Caturra [Grove Avenue Location is participating Saturday and Sunday]
*Editor's Note: All participating restaurants are giving 10% of their brunch proceeds to VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Now I want to highlight a few of my favorite brunch locations in the city that have gluten-free options.
There are some items in particular I find myself missing now that I’ve been gluten-free for over a year, and pancakes are definitely one of them. When I discovered that The Daily has two GF pancake options - buckwheat and quinoa - I rejoiced! Their omelets are delicious too, and don’t forget some of their fresh pressed juice options or a big mug of chai.
The Daily is in the heart of Carytown, and it’s definitely a classy enough venue to bring your parents to brunch with you. Since I live within walking distance to The Daily, I probably abuse that privilege with how often I brunch there.
Recommended dish: The buckwheat pancakes.
2. WPA Bakery
While not a typical brunch location, it's on the list because WPA Bakery is hands-down my favorite bakery in Richmond. They have gluten-free items on their menu every day, boasting a delicious roster of muffins, cakes, macarons, and other treats!
Located in Church Hill, WPA is a great hidden gem. For those who want to brunch on the go, grab a gluten-free muffin and spend some time strolling up and down the hilly neighborhood.
Recommended dish: The pear olive oil cake - not a brunch item, but I’d be amiss not to rec it!
3. Social 52
I went to Social 52 for brunch recently with a group of assorted friends, thinking I’d be defaulting to ordering an omelet (certainly not a bad option!). However, once I saw it on the menu, there was no looking back. I knew my order: Shrimp and Grits.
I’ve lived in the South all my life, and that means I’ve had more than my fair share of shrimp and grits. But let me tell you... these ones are phenomenal. My mouth is watering just thinking of that garlic sherry cream sauce again.
Social 52 is in the middle of the action on Main Street in the Fan. Their deep booths will keep you separate from the crowds, but you can fit plenty of your friends in there with you! Order a pitcher of mimosas and settle on in for a nice long brunch date.
Recommended dish: The shrimp and grits. But seriously.
*Note: Social 52’s online menu is not labeled GF, but their in-house menu did have options clearly labeled the last time I visited.
Hope to see you brunching this weekend!
Disclaimer: I am gluten-free after years of trial and error, 3 elimination diets (including the Whole 30 twice), and various food intolerance tests. I am certainly intolerant but I am not celiac. So if you are celiac, please take everything in this post with a grain (ha!) of salt. I cannot speak for any potential cross-contamination issues in the recommended locations above.
*Grace is a project manager at a fast-paced tech company and she loves a good mimosa with her brunch. She lives in Richmond, VA with a roommate and two cats. When not working, she’s probably picking apart her novel draft or cooking something ambitious.