Every September, I head to Cleveland, Ohio, for the annual Content Marketing World event. But last year was a little different. You see, it was my first conference travel since I received my gluten intolerance and wheat allergy diagnosis.
In San Francisco, I can almost forget that I have this dietary restriction—there are so many ways to get gluten-free and FODMAP-friendly food delivered to our place. But eating on the go for a week is something altogether different.
For me, doing a little research and connecting with the event organizers in advance enabled me to have a stress-free #CMworld experience.
Always Make Your Dietary Restrictions Known in Advance
The CM World staff is 100% committed to making the event a great experience for all attendees, starting with having customized meal options. In addition to being gluten intolerant, I also have a serious allergy to crab. I made both of these restrictions known to the staff when I registered.
Ahead of my arrival, I did a good amount of web sleuthing to identify the best restaurants to reserve for my dinner meetups.
Upon arrival at the Westin (whose restaurant Urban Farmer has a good number of gluten free options), I was greeted by a gluten-free care package put together by my pal Monina Wagner. It was such a relief to have some grab-n-go gluten-free snacks in hand to stash in my conference bag during my first big trip away from home. It gave me the confidence to try out a whole slew of restaurants, many of which I’ll be visiting again this year.
If you’re heading to Cleveland for Content Marketing World or another conference, here’s where I recommend you plan to grab your gluten-free eats.
I experienced a first when I had dinner at Greenhouse Tavern with friends last year. What was it? It was the first time I’ve ever finished eating a dish and called the waiter over to order another one to be delivered to the table IMMEDIATELY. What was this scintillating dish? Their fried brussels sprouts with maple aioli. I can’t wait to have them again this week. The menu clearly marks each item with gluten-free and vegetarian making it easy to make decisions.
I first ate at Michael Symon’s Lola in its original Tremont location years ago, when traveling to my then-employer’s Cleveland office. It was a magical dinner, with fluffy snowflakes giving us a pretty view from the picture windows. It’s become my can’t-miss dinner spot whenever I am in town. I was a little concerned about dining there with my allergy last year, but shouldn’t have been. The wait staff is well-informed about the ingredients and went out of their way to accommodate me, and make sure I felt confident about what I was eating. I was thrilled to note this year that they’ve added gluten-free indicators right on the menu, making it even easier to make dinner decisions. I recommend ordering anything on the menu that involves pork. You’re welcome.
I’m pretty sure Mo is going to kill me for the above photo, but you need to see it to understand just how FUN Town Hall is! That’s a firework in her milkshake! Have you ever seen that before? Well, I sure hadn’t. But fun aside, Town Hall has great food too. They even have a Paleo night (Wednesdays)! I love that not only do they mark dishes as gluten-free or vegan, they also clearly list any potential allergens used to make the dish. While you’re out here, be sure to stop by the West Side Market food hall too. You can pick up a gluten-free snack for later.
With a focus on farm-to-table seasonal food, much of the menu at Urban Farmer, other than the desserts, is naturally gluten-free. And, they usually have some gluten-free bread on hand to make substitutions easy (such as to accompany the awesome cheese plate Maureen is digging into above). Although there are many options on the menu, the steaks are the standouts here, as is the charcuterie plate. It’s also a great place to get a healthy gluten-free breakfast.
Even if I weren’t eating gluten-free, I’d be stopping by Zocalo for some Mexican food. Great margaritas and lots of tasty, naturally gluten-free food to share.
I’m hoping to find some new soon-to-be-favorite Cleveland gluten-free restaurants while I’m here this week. Know of one I should check out? let me know in the comments!