Review: The Park’s best gluten-free foods

Gluten-free doesn’t mean flavor-free in these Park restaurants.
A beautiful dish like this gravlax from Mill Valley Kitchen is the essence of spring.

May is national Celiac Awareness Month; one of 141 Americans has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten. However, many others are opting for gluten-free (GF) diets to help them feel healthier. This month, we have chosen six delicious offerings from local restaurants that seek to make something for everyone to enjoy. We’ve included delicious entrées, desserts and even pizza. Stop by these restaurants and experience how delicious gluten free can be.

Coffee Bar
Vitali’s Bistro
A common misconception arises about gluten-free diets: Sure, there are healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options, but what happens to snacking? Fortunately, Vitali’s Bistro has taken steps to ensure that patrons with specific dietary needs can still enjoy a coffeehouse snack with their favorite brew. Vitali’s coffee bar is a delicious made-from-scratch confection of two layers of gluten-free pastry crust surrounding a sweet seasonal fruit filling ($3.99). Vitali Logman explains that his shift to include gluten-free products is a result of fulfilling customer demand. 5101 Minnetonka Blvd.; 952.929.1075.

Punjab Glory
Cooper Pub
Irish cuisine and gluten-free diets are usually about as perfect a pair as a wool sweater in a Dublin downpour: Mugs of beer and chunks of bread are not exactly the friendliest options for those avoiding gluten. Fortunately, Cooper Pub has prepared a GF menu with more than 15 options. We particularly enjoyed their Punjab Glory dish: A delicious vegetable curry is matched with hearty lentils and spread over a blanket of basmati rice, creating an Indian-Irish dish not as strange as it sounds ($12.99). 1607 Park Place Blvd.; 952.698.2000.

House-cured Gravlax

Mill Valley Kitchen
This MVK specialty is reserved for the adventurous. With a name like a Scandinavian super-villain, this dish is a perfect blend of Minnesota heritage and California flair. Gravlax is a Nordic dish featuring raw salmon typically cured in salt, sugar and dill. To inject a bit more flavor, chef Jourdan Morris pairs the fish with freshly marinated cucumber, tomatoes, dill-yogurt, plus crisp potato to add a bit of textural crunch ($12). Morris likes the gravlax because it adds diversity to the table, which he claims is essential for an enjoyable gluten-free lifestyle. Morris enjoys GF foods, but believes it’s important to balance GF meals with dishes that offer great grains if you don’t have a gluten intolerance. 3906 Excelsior Blvd.; 952.358.2000.

Coconut Macaroon

Honey & Rye Bakehouse
The macaroon’s almond base makes it a natural gluten-free candidate for those with a sweet tooth. Co-owner Emily Ackerman says feedback from her regular customers has been overwhelming, who claim Honey & Rye has the best mac offering. These delicious treats are a mere $2.50, so don’t feel guilty about picking up a second. One important distinction to note for those with severe gluten allergies: Honey & Rye does not make gluten-free bread; these cookies are considered “flourless.” The bakery itself is not gluten free. 4501 Excelsior Blvd.; 612.844.2555.

Gluten-free Pizza
Park Tavern
The mack daddy of party food and comfort food has been given the gluten-free treatment at Park Tavern, which offers a delicious GF pizza for all to enjoy. Any of their specialty pizzas are available gluten free, or build your own ($17.95). We recommend the Hawaiian, a classic blend of ham and pineapple. Order one with a round of bowling, and reclaim your favorite guilty-pleasure food. 3401 Louisiana Ave. S; 952.929.6810.

Thai Green Curry

Wok in the Park
Gluten-free foods have a bad reputation for sacrificing taste for health. Not so at Wok in the Park. In fact, they took that flavor fallacy and spun it around. Their Thai green curry is prepared with your choice of meat or veggies, and mixed with jalapeno peppers, fresh onion, and curry seasoning. Coconut milk, mushrooms, and lemongrass take the fiery edge off ($10–$15). 3005 Utah Ave. S.; 952.657.5754.