Frank and I really don’t eat out very often. The main reason is money. We’re on a strict budget so I can stay home (that’s really important to both of us) and we can pay off the debt from our previous house, and any dining out has to come out of our grocery money. Since we’re gluten-free, our grocery budget is already huge, and I haven’t been inclined to make it any bigger, and I don’t want to eat beans and rice every day of every week.
This year, we’re going to be able to eat out a little more. I’ve added a few extra dollars to the grocery budget, and we’ve decided to stop just *saying* we’re going to try new restaurants and actually get out there and do it. We know we can get good gluten-free dining experiences at Chang’s and Outback and Epi’s and Cottonwood and a number of other pricey restaurants. We’re going to try some of those when money allows. But we also want to try decently-priced restaurants and see how their gluten-free experience is.
We tried to start that Sunday after worship. We drove to an Indian restaurant on State Street that we haven’t eaten at. It smelled wonderful when we walked in. But alas, it was lunch buffet time, and the place is tiny, so it was completely full, and we decided to try again later. Then we drove to a Santa Fe Mex kind of place I’ve seen a few times. Closed on Sundays. Argh. We went downtown, because we were already close, and decided to try the Indian restaurant down there. Also closed on Sundays. Across from it was a sushi place that is–can you guess? Closed on Sundays.
So we gave up and decided to just go to On The Border. We know the salsa doesn’t suck, and they have allergen-free menus available, so it’s easy to eat there, especially since I also have to be egg- and dairy-free right now (oh, and it’s going to get worse, because I’m going to cut way down on corn). On the way there from downtown, we passed by another “Mexican” restaurant we’ve never tried (see, we have tried very few restaurants), Cinco de Mayo, and decided to give it a shot. When we walked in and only white people were eating there, we should have turned around and walked out. We have yet to find good Mexican (or Tex Mex or Santa Fe Mex) here.
One trend we’ve noticed in Idaho is that the restaurants serve you bean dip as well as salsa while you’re waiting for your meal. That’s good, because the bean dip is usually good, while the salsa is horrific. Two of the Mexican restaurants I’ve eaten at here put basil in their salsa. Basil. I feel like Rachel Lucas, unable to find good Mexican food in my new home. It would make sense if Idaho didn’t have a Mexican population, but we do. The table guac was good, so I have to give them that. The mole wasn’t bad. But if you’re a Mexican restaurant and don’t have good salsa, it’s just not going to work out for us. It’s not me, it’s you.
Anyway, we’ve decided that Sunday is just the wrong day for our new eating adventures, so we’ll probably move it to Thursday evenings. You know, during Buttercup’s crankiest time of day. :)
Related: Susan has a great post on mainstream restaurants that cater to the gluten-free crowd. We don’t have a lot of those restaurants, but if you’re in the Metroplex, you do. Actually, most big cities have most of them. Go check it out.