Gluten-Free in Las Vegas

A couple of weekends ago, I went to Las Vegas with my mom and four aunts.  I went for the first time this July with friends, and made a critical error food-wise.  When I googled “gluten free Vegas”, I found that there are a TON of restaurants with gluten-free options, or even entirely gluten-free menus upon request.  Awesome, right?

Right.  Unless you’re a vegetarian.

It hadn’t occurred to me that “gluten-free” and “vegetarian” aren’t frequently overlapping concepts in the touristy areas of Las Vegas.  Gluten-free options at restaurants are usually meat, more meat, and sometimes fish.  I was traveling with a huge group of people, and the last thing I wanted to do was inconvenience anyone.  That led to an unhealthy weekend of sub-par salads and watching my friends eat THE MOST DELICIOUS PIZZA I’D EVER SEEN.  I also ate Tex-Mex twice (basically just corn tortillas and cheese).

I did find one good place – Maggiano’s.  When I asked about their gluten-free options, they had the chef come out and speak to me personally.  He created a pasta dish just for me, and it was really good.  All of my non-GF friends liked the food there as well.

THIS TIME I was determined not to make the same mistake as in July, so I did a lot of research beforehand and read lots of menus and made a list of restaurants.

First and foremost, I found out there’s a freaking Whole Foods right by the airport on Las Vegas Blvd.  My mom and I headed there right after we checked into our hotel, so I could load up on snacks.

This store turned me into a crazy person.  This store made Whole Foods Toronto look like a gas station convenience store.  I completely lost the purpose of this visit and ended up buying $86 of groceries that I somehow needed to bring back to Canada in my tiny carry on suitcase.  (By the way, that $86 of groceries would have easily cost $150 at home.)

Look how much agave you people have! Do you know how many bottles I have to choose from at home? 2.


Fun fact: I asked an employee at the Toronto store why they don’t have Whole Foods brand stuff like marshmallows, and he said it’s because of French language laws for packaging. By law, our packages have to have both English and French. Apparently Whole Foods doesn’t think it makes financial sense to print special labels for its small handful of Canadian stores.

For dinner that night, we tried to get a reservation at Maggiano’s, but it was booked.  In fact, so was everything else on the list I’d made.  So much for that.  The concierge recommended Ferraro’s, so we went there.  All of the pasta dishes contained either meat or cheese, and I couldn’t eat either so I asked the server about my options.

“What can’t you eat?”
“Gluten, dairy, and meat.”  Side note: the look on people’s faces when I say that is endlessly amusing.  A cross between “what the hell is wrong with you?” and “shit, that sucks.”
“Okay, why don’t you try something different instead of pasta?”
“Like what?”

Didn’t I just… oh, nevermind.  I ended up with gluten free pasta and tomato sauce.   It was… pasta and tomato sauce.  Boring.

The next morning, we went on a helicopter tour and drank champagne in the Grand Canyon.

That was really amazing.  The helicopter ride was the main reason I bought snacks at Whole Foods, because I didn’t want to be trapped in a helicopter for 4 hours with no food.  It ended up being shorter, and I could eat all the snacks provided by the tour company.

That night, we went to Mon Ami Gabi, the fairly expensive French restaurant in the Paris hotel.  Their gluten-free menu was all meat, but they were the only restaurant I found who advertised gluten-free bread.  I figured I could eat bread and a big salad for dinner.  It turns out they were SUPER accommodating, and even had a gluten-free dairy-free vegetarian item on their main menu.  It was essentially just vegetables, but they were seasoned really well and the restaurant seemed really careful with cross-contamination.  The bread was delicious too.

Overall, it was a really fun trip.  We saw Terry Fator (not my choice, but it was kind of fascinating) and Cirque du Soleil’s Love, which was probably the best show I’ve ever seen.  I saw O in July, and I’m still embarrassed to admit that I SLEPT THROUGH HALF THE SHOW because I was so hypothyroid I could hardly keep my eyes open.  No sleeping during Love!

I’m off to campaign for Whole Foods marshmallows in Canada.