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Gluten and dairy free restaurant recommendations in Chapel Hill area?

My parents are coming to town for a long weekend, and my mother has celiac disease and is gluten and dairy free. I'm new to Carrboro, and I'm hoping for restaurant recommendations in the area. My mom isn't picky, and, as she likes to say, she can only eat one thing per meal so she doesn't need an entire menu of items that accommodate her, but I would like to take her some place where she has some options. They will be in town three dinners and three lunches, and my in-laws are joining us for at least one of the dinners, which I am hoping with be on the nicer but not extravagant side. Any suggestions or advice? All help is appreciated!

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  1. I'm sorry that I don't have a list. I knew one or two several years back, but I honestly believe that your best option is going to be to get on the phone and ask, making sure that that you are comfortable that the answer is informed. (To clarify, I simply must have antibiotic/hormone free beef and if someone gives me less than a complete and informed answer I point out that it means a trip to the emergency room if they're wrong -- at this point many of them go and check "to be sure").

    I suggest you check Butternut Squash, Bonne Soiree (extravagant), Jujube, Pancuito, Squids (their management has always been receptive to questions and concerns with us), Panzanella, Weathervane, il Palio, Piedmont, and Mint (Indian on Franklin Str).

    Good luck.

    1. I've never been a fan of Elmo's Diner, but our Durham cousin with celiac used to eat there regularly. I'll repeat, it is necessary to call ahead anywhere and confirm that the restaurant can accommodate celiac diners.


      These two websites may give you more reliable information. The second site has links to gluten-free information in other NC cities.

      Good luck.

      1. I'm thinking a nice Asian-inspired place like Jujube or the Lantern would offer good options. Either place would work for the "nicer but not extravagent" dinner.

        1. I'll also suggest Sage in Chapel Hill:


          It's vegetarian/vegan and you can see their menu on the web site. I'm sure they'd also be willing to work with you too.

          1. Thanks so much for all these suggestions! I just called Panzanella, and they can accommodate my mom and very clearly knew what they were talking about, so I think we'll be going there for dinner tonight. I'll call around to these other places this afternoon. Elmo's has a note on their menu that their food might be contaminated because they cook gluten, dairy, shellfish, etc all in the same kitchen. I think that's true of all diners though and not something to be wary of - she doesn't generally have a problem just getting eggs for breakfast in a diner. I get worried about Asian places because there is wheat in soy sauce, which is too bad because I really want to try Lantern!

            1 Reply
            1. re: staceybl

              My husband has celiac disease and we've eaten at The Lantern several times since his diagnosis. We've always had an excellent experience there. The staff is very knowledgeable about gluten free needs and have gone out of their way to make sure that my husband had a wonderful dining experience. If you mention while making the reservation that someone needs to eat gluten free, the staff will note that so the wait staff can research the menu options ahead of time. The menu always has had gluten free options when we've visited and The Lantern has been willing to make necessary substitutions (when possible) to make a menu item gluten free. Of all of the restaurants that we've visited since my husband's celiac diagnosis, The Lantern has been one of the best gluten free dining experiences.

            2. There is a new place in Raleigh if you want to drive a little. They have only been open a month, so there may still be some growing pains - I know they are doing a soft opening for a few months to accommodate this.

              It is called Cafe Harmony and is owned by the folks who own Harmony Farms natural foods store on Creedmoor. I believe they have tweaked their hours, so call first. They are doing breakfast & lunch and have prepared salads at a deli counter and a juice bar. While it is not all gluten free, they are knowledgeable and have many GF options.

              Full disclosure: I'm not associated with this cafe in any way. I am in the natural foods industry and so I have done business with their parent company and became aware of the cafe through the store.

              5 Replies
              1. re: meatn3

                Thanks! I'll check it out. Maybe it'd be a good place to go for lunch before dropping the 'rents at the airport.

                1. re: meatn3

                  Just wanted to update that Cafe Harmony has closed their doors.

                  1. re: meatn3

                    Great suggestions so far. You may also want to try The Pig. They make a lot of their own food and the owner, Sam, used to be vegan. I think the best advice is to call ahead and talk to them, so they know when your party is coming.

                    1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                      Carmine's has gluten-free pasta options:


                      Twisted Noodles has plenty of gluten-free menu choices:


                      Indian food is largely gluten-free. You might try Saffron, Mint, Cholanad or Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe.


                      1. re: ToothTooth

                        I wanted to update this post to note that Bull Street Market cafe in Durham and Sandwhich in Chapel Hill both have a gluten-free bread option for all of their sandwich offerings.