Hogtails BBQ – Best BBQ in the city

Well, I finally made it out to Hogtails BBQ in North Waterloo.  Well, let’s be honest…I’ve been there 3 times in two weeks.

Yes, it’s my new favourite restaurant in town.

Firstly: one of the staff members is a Celiac, and all three times I ordered she was working and knew exactly what I could eat.  Ask for her if you are concerned!

But there are so many items on the menu that are gluten free.  Almost all the meats are (I tried the ribs, chicken, beef brisket, pulled pork), and many of the sides are.  The french fries and sweet potato fries are gluten free but are cooked in the same fryer as other fried products.  Bummer.  But there are many other options.  The sides that are gluten free are:

  • Red Beans and Rice
  • Coleslaw
  • Baked Beans (Update 2014: These are not GF at Lancaster Smokehouse.  Uncertain if they are GF at Hogtails anymore.)
  • Vegetables
  • Potato Salad

I can’t remember if the Grits and Collard Greens are gluten free – I think so but I’d ask to make sure.  You get two of them with most meals, and if you ask for no cornbread you can get a small 3rd side for free.

Overall the food was incredible.  The meat is delicious and the BBQ sauce is just perfect.  All the sides I tried were really tasty.  Note: you get a LOT of food, so prepare your appetite or prepare for left overs.

Highly recommended – check it out if you haven’t already!

Note: it is highly encouraged to order in advance and take the food out with you.  The restaurant itself is quite small and you’d probably have to wait a while to get a table.


Spring Rolls in Waterloo

Today I visited Spring Rolls at Conestoga Mall in Waterloo and thought I’d give a quick update for Celiacs looking to visit this restaurant.

Overall I have to say I was impressed with our waitress when I asked about gluten free options. She obviously had dealt with Celiacs before and knew a lot about what I could have on the menu. For instance, at Asian restaurants I often order the Singapore Noodles because I know it’s rice vermicelli and usually doesn’t contain soya sauce. (Always good to check though!)  She did confirm it was gluten free; but since she was fairly knowledgable I thought I’d ask about other menu items to see if I could ‘stretch out’ and try something different.

So I inquired about some of the other rice noodle dishes and ended up with the “Ho Fun” in Szechuan Sauce (flat rice noodles in authentic Szechuan sauce).  The Szechuan sauce does contain soya sauce usually, but they can make it with mushroom sauce which is gluten free.  She said the dish tastes a little different, but I thought it was very good and couldn’t tell it was a custom order.  I’d definitely order it again.

My wife ordered the Pad Thai and I asked if it was gluten free (so we could share, naturally!).  She said it is “pretty much” gluten free, but she wanted to warn me that the Pad Thai rice noodles have a tiny amount of wheat in them.  She described it as 0.05%, and most people with gluten allergies don’t have a problem.  Although I wouldn’t recommend this to Celiacs (you can decide for yourself), the fact that she knew this and warned us was certainly pretty outstanding.

So generally, it was a great meal.  I usually don’t love the generic chain restaurants, and Asian restaurants that completely cater to the North American palette wouldn’t be my first choice.  However, there are benefits to this kind of establishment – tried and true menu items and trained staff that know about allergies and can communicate the information well.

Have you been to Spring Rolls?  What did you order?  Any other items that are gluten-free?

Happy eating.

Moving to Kitchener!

Bye bye Cambridge!

After 3 years of living in Cambridge, I’m moving back to KW.  I’ll be right on the border of Kitchener and Waterloo – back to my old digs.

Before moving to Cambridge (and when I started this blog), I lived in Waterloo for nearly 15 years.  Moving to Cambridge was necessary for this short time, but I’m happy to be back ‘home’.

With that said, I’ll miss a few restaurants in Cambridge very much.  El Rinconcito Mexicano is definitely one of them.  With so many gluten free dishes, great Mexican food, (a new location!), and a friendly staff, you just can’t go wrong.

I’ll also miss Ben Thanh.  I know these Thai restaurants are everywhere but the Cambridge one is never busy (well, not like the Waterloo one) and you can always get a table without reservations.

And finally, I never got to try Ivey’s restaurant.  I wish I had and maybe will drive down to Cambridge just to check it out.  I’ve heard great things about this little Caribbean restaurant, and given that Rainbow Caribbean in Kitchener is so good (and a lot is gluten-free) I have high hopes for Ivey’s.

Cambridge readers – feel free to continue to post your own reviews on Safe Celiac’s “Post Your Own Review” page.

Melitsa’s in Belmont Village

Yesterday I visited Melista’s in Belmont Village. I’ve been there before but wanted to write a little review because it is such an excellent restaurant for Celiacs wanting to grab a quick but healthy bite to eat.

In case you’ve never been there, Melista’s is a lot like a deli, but with many hot dishes and great Greek food. With that said, you can be in and out in 5 minutes with a great take out meal, or eat there and have your meal faster than you would get at McDonalds. But way better (and healthier) of course!

One of the lunch specials is a chicken souvlaki, and it comes with 3 side dishes. I choose the bean salad, greek salad, and rice.  It was quite a good amount of food for $7.99. Dinner is $10.99 and you get a 4th side dish.

The owner assured me that everything I picked was indeed gluten free, and also gave me a little insight into their menu. Everything is made from scratch, and they avoid thickeners and flour in many cases.  So for instance, they have a vegetable bean soup (that I didn’t try) but is completely gluten free.  They also assured me that you could ask about their many dishes and they could tell you what’s in it.

On top of being Celiac-friendly, they are, well…friendly!  It’s nice to support the small, family run establishments in the area, and I’d highly recommend a visit.


725 Belmont Ave. West, Kitchener

Gluten free Oliebollen!

This isn’t a restaurant review, but I felt compelled to share it.  My wife is Dutch and made me gluten-free Oliebollen for New Years.  If you’ve never had Oliebollen, it’s like a fried donut with fruit in it.  Yes, you heard me right – fried!  And like a donut!  It’s pretty much everything a Celiac shouldn’t be able to eat…but now can (and it’s wonderful).

Schar has a great recipe that we followed.  Check it out:



Arabesque Cafe in Kitchener – Lebanese Food

A few months ago I visited Arabesque Cafe in Kitchener for lunch.  They specialize in Lebanese food, and if you’ve never had Lebanese food I’d urge you to give it a try.  Lebanese food is so delicious with the various meats, salads and rice…not to mention garlic in practically everything!

When I told them I was on a gluten-free diet, the waitress immediately told me what I should have for lunch as they’ve had Celiacs in their restaurant before.

Their lunch menu only has a few options, but you can pick the type of salad and side dishes.  Immediately she steered me away from the tabouleh salad (made with bulgar), the bread salad (fattoush) and also the fries.  Instead I got a green salad and rice along with the chicken shawarma.  The hummus was also delicious and was served without the pita bread.

I’d say the only low point of the meal was the “fresh mango juice”, which almost tasted like a drink made from toxic chemicals.  Yikes.

Overall – the food wasn’t the best Lebanese food I’ve ever had, but was certainly very tasty and safe for Celiacs.  I’d definitely visit their establishment again.

Check out the photo below of my meal.  Look at those awesome colors!