How to Order a Gluten-Free Meal

gluten free holidayCommunication is the key ingredient to every successful gluten-free restaurant meal. When diners, chefs and servers are able to collaborate on what is required and what can be reasonably delivered, there is cause for celebration!

restaurant-staffBut where to begin?

The following is a list of suggested questions to help Start the Conversation on Celiac-Friendly Dining©. In very short order, the responses you receive will allow you to gage any given restaurant’s degree of  gluten awareness – and willingness For the very best outcome, call ahead or take your host or server aside before ordering.

NOTE: Restaurants that have carefully researched how to serve us love going into detail. If your questions are met with impatience and exasperation – go with your gut. When restaurants get gluten free right, reward them generously!

Start the Conversation on Gluten Free DiningQuestion #1

  • Please tell me about the meals  you recommend to diners who need to eat gluten free?


  • What ingredients will be used to make my order?
  • How do staff  know whether ingredients are really gluten free?
    • Says so on labels?
    • Checked product website?
    • Called the manufacturer?
    • Checked with The Celiac Scene? The CCA?
  • Will pure spices, prepared seasonings or soy sauce made from wheat be used to make my meal?
  • What other food items are cooked in the oil that ‘gluten-free’ items are cooked in?
  • How are sauces and dressings thickened?


  • How will my server communicate with the kitchen that a gluten-free order has been placed?
  • How are gluten-free orders prepared in relation to the regular flow of the kitchen?
  • Will staff wash their hands / change gloves / change aprons clean surfaces before preparing my order?
  • How do staff ensure that all utensils used in preparing my food are free from any trace of gluten?
    • Separate or scrubbed frying pan? Griddle scrubbed? Aluminum foil barrier? Dedicated pots? Dedicated colanders?
  • What other precautions do staff take to minimize / prevent cross contamination?
  • How will my server confirm with the kitchen that the order they are collecting has been prepared gluten free?
  • How will my server confirm that the order they are delivering to me is gluten free?

How did the restaurant learn how to meet the needs of gluten-free diners?

  • Through The Celiac Scene? Canadian Celiac Association?
  • Registered dietitian? Local health authority?
  • Staff members with celiac disease?

airborne wheat flourQuestions Specific to Pizza Restaurants 

  • The risk of cross contamination with airborne gluten flour is HIGH. Partake only if strict protocols are in place to protect your safety.
  • Are ‘gluten-free’ crusts prepared on-site? 
    • During regular operations? Before regular production? During downtimes / days?
    • See questions in Ingredient section above.
  • Are pre-made ‘gluten-free’ crusts purchased from a dedicated gluten-free manufacturer? Who is the manufacturer?
  • How are gluten-free sauces and toppings prepared?
    • During regular operations? Before regular production? During downtimes / days
    • See questions in Ingredient section above.
  • airborne wheat flourHow do staff ensure that all utensils used in preparing gluten-free orders are free of any trace of gluten?
  • How are utensils, crusts, sauces and toppings protected from cross-contamination with gluten while waiting to be used?
  • How will my order be protected from cross-contamination with gluten once it has been prepared and/or while waiting to be served?

If the prospect of grilling restaurants about their gluten-free friendliness feels intimidating, you’ve got options!

Visit The Celiac Scene for restaurants that enjoy an excellent reputation within Victoria and Vancouver Island’s celiac community.

Join Victoria’s Gluten-Free Foodies to dine with a gluten-free group at carefully vetted restaurants. With more than 80 Meet-Ups under our belts, choose from a huge inventory of tried and tested celiac-friendly restaurants.