Thursday, December 29, 2016

Gluten Free at Downtown Disney - Disneyland Resort

We spent the first five days of our Christmas Break this year at Disneyland Resort.

Four out of the five nights of our trip, we had dinner at Downtown Disney, which I accidentally kept calling Disney Springs, because of the name change at Disney World.  The restaurants we dined at were not owned and operated by Disney, so they did not have the typical allergy-friendly menus you see at quick service and table service restaurants in the theme parks.

The first night of our trip, we had dinner at Uva Bar & Cafe, which features Mediterranean tapas and entrees.  Uva has indoor and outdoor seating, but we chose to sit inside, because it was a little bit chilly. They did not have an allergy-friendly menu, but our server was very knowledgeable about gluten free options.

My husband ordered a beer flight, and choose a pineapple hard cider as one of his choices for me to drink.  It was very good, and I was happy our server delivered it separately.

We started our meal with the corn arepas from the shared plates menu.  They are described as corn cakes topped with pulled pork, guacamole, cilantro, and red onion.  We all agreed that the arepas were delicious, and I would definitely order them again if we ever go back to Uva.

Our server told me that I could order any of the burgers protein-style with a lettuce wrap.  I chose the lamb burger with house ground lamb, piquillo pepper, pickled red onion, feta, and arugula, but I left off the lemon dill aioli.  I loved the combination of flavors of everything on my burger, and the garlic fries it was served with were great too, and they were fried in a dedicated fryer.  I did not enjoy the feta as much as it melted, so I would probably ask for it on the side in the future.

We also had dinner at Catal, a signature dining restaurant in the same building as Uva.  Like Uva, Catal is managed by the Patina Group, and features Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist.  Our server told me that most of the entrees were naturally gluten free, or could be modified to be gluten free.  I chose the porchetta, which is described as Salmon Creek pork loin and belly with honey sage jus, crispy sweet potato, and grilled stone fruit.  My pork was incredibly tender and flavorful, and I loved the mix of sweet potatoes and persimmons it was served with.

My husband and my friend Navid both ordered the suckling pig paella with chorizo de bilbao, saffron bomba rice, peas, pickled onion, and tomatillo jam.  Mitch said it was the best entree he had at Disneyland, and Navid raved about it as well.  Our server told me that all four of the paellas at Catal were gluten free.

Tortilla Jo's, which is also run by the Patina Group, was one of my top picks for this trip, because of recommendations from blog readers and fellow gluten free bloggers.

Numerous gluten free options are noted on Tortilla Jo's menu, which features Mexican cuisine with a modern twist.  Just look for a red "GF" in a circle next to the name of each dish.

We started our meal with tableside guacamole with tortilla chips, which reminded me of the incredible guacamole at Rocco's Tacos in Orlando.

The complimentary salsa was one of the best salsas I have ever had at a restaurant.

I decided to order a margarita flight with mango jalapeno, pomegranate, and strawberry margaritas.

They were all good, but the mango jalapeno margarita was the star of the show.  I loved the tiny pieces of jalapeno that added a spicy kick to every sip of my drink.

After I told my husband that it was the best margarita i have ever had, he ordered a traditional size mango jalapeno margarita, which was not on the menu, but our server asked the bartender if he could make it.

We all shared an order of the sweet corn cake, which was incredibly delicious.  It reminded me of the sweet corn cakes we used to eat at Chi-Chi's.  It's a great side dish, but I could also eat it for dessert.

My husband and I shared an order of steak and shrimp fajitas, which we both enjoyed.

Our fajitas were served with black beans, Mexican red rice, guacamole, and handmade corn tortillas.

We had enough food to share with our daughter Katie, who did not like the empanadas she ordered.  

My daughter Emma ordered the signature barbacoa nachos, which are marked gluten free on the menu.  She liked them, but this kind of dish does not appeal to me, so I did not taste them.

The day we had dinner at Catal, we stopped at Tortilla Jo's again to hang out with our friend Navid.  We sat outside at a table near the bar, and ordered drinks and tableside guacamole.  I could not pass up getting another margarita flight, but this time, I ordered three of the mango jalapeno margaritas.  They were not as good as on our first visit, because the jalapeno was not as finely chopped, but I still enjoyed them.

We ate a lot of New Orleans cuisine on our recent trip to Disneyland Resort.  We dined at Cafe Orleans and Blue Bayou in Disneyland Park, which you can read about here, and Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney.

Ralph Brennan's did have a special diets menu listing gluten free options.

My family ordered the mozzarella and tomato Caprese.  Without the croutons, it is gluten free.  I did not try it, because they had not ordered it gluten free, and it was covered in olives, which seemed odd to serve with Caprese.

I chose the BBQ shrimp and grits for an entree.  My dish had a generous amount of shrimp, and the grits were nice and cheesy, and so delicious eaten with the sauce.

Tortilla Jo's had sorbet and flan for dessert, but I don't remember what gluten free options the other restaurants had.  I recall being offered creme brulee, sorbet, and/or ice cream at several Disney restaurants, but I did not eat dessert at Uva, Catal, Tortilla Jo's or Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen.

A Sprinkles Cupcakes recently opened in Downtown Disney, so I stopped in after our dinner at Uva to have a gluten free red velvet cupcake.  They also have gluten free chocolate chip cookies.  Both of these gluten free options are very good, and you can read more about them in my Sprinkles review from Disney Springs here.

Overall, I found the restaurants at Downtown Disney to be very gluten free friendly, and I enjoyed my meals at all of them.  You can make advance dining reservations for all of the restaurants we dined at on Disneyland's website, except Uva, which seats people on a first come, first served basis.

What are your favorite restaurants for gluten free dining at Downtown Disney at Disneyland Resort?


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