My husband and I recently took a drive to Branson for a little get-away. Actually, it was our first get-away together in almost 2 years (since we, like everyone else, didn’t go anywhere last year). We’ve been there before so I already had my go-to’s in line for eating out. I used the Find Me Gluten Free App the first time we went and discovered that eating gluten free in Branson can be pretty easy. (There are more options than where we went. Be sure to read reviews and still ask questions and clearly state your needs.)
The Highlight of our Visit
I will start with the highlight of our visit–and it’s not about food. After all, while food is a necessary part of life, we are so much more than the food we can or cannot eat. We saw a live performance of Jesus at the Sight and Sound Theater. Simply put–it was AMAZING!! This was my first time at the this theater. I enjoyed every second of it and would go again in a heartbeat. While it cannot do the stage performance justice, I actually purchased the DVD because I will want to watch it again and again.
Now on to the Food ~ Gluten Free in Branson
We like to stay near The Landing in Branson so we can walk there. Its an outdoor area full of stores, restaurants and such. I honestly didn’t do any shopping, but I enjoy the atmosphere and walking along the waterfront.
We had eaten at Cantina Loredo on The Landing before and really enjoyed it–(their corn tortilla chips were fried in separate dedicated oil). And isn’t that what it’s all about?–the chips and salsa with a margarita?
Of course, since it had been a few years, I called ahead to be sure they still fried their chips in dedicated oil (and I double checked again when we got there). I also asked if the margaritas were made from scratch or from a mix. I was told from scratch.
The chips and salsa were yummy (I certainly ate my share!) The margarita was a bit strong. One was enough and I had to water that down. (What I like or don’t like isn’t everyone’s taste, however.) Maybe I was just tired. The chicken enchiladas I got seemed a bit on the bland side. There is a sauce (or something?) they had to replace with queso in order to keep it gluten free. But that’s OK. I felt that they understood gluten free, and safe food is number one. We just enjoyed our time, sitting at an outside table, overlooking the water and relaxing a bit.
*Always ask the appropriate questions and don’t take my word or anyone else’s. Always make your own judgement call.
Dinner and a Show
If you want dinner and a show, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede is fabulous. You can make a special dietary request when you make your reservation. As you can see, it goes right on your ticket. You leave this on the table for the server who can then see who has special requirements.
How Dinner Works
The theater is a large arena overlooking a dirt floor stage. Horses, stunts, skits, and more. Dinner is served while you’re enjoying the show. (And yes, the show is fabulous!) Each row has one assigned server.
Unless you don’t like anything on the menu, you definitely won’t leave hungry! Most of the items are naturally gluten free, but I did receive a couple replacements. I didn’t get any photos of my food, unfortunately, but you can click here to view the menu.
First, we received our drinks. Choice of ice tea or soft drink.
Next up: soup. The soup is not gluten free, so I got a vegetable medley. I love my veggies, so this was good.
Next, the servers go down the line serving biscuits. If you’d like a biscuit with your meal or for your child’s gluten-free meal, bring one, (I didn’t receive a gluten-free replacement–which was fine with me.) Personally, not having a biscuit didn’t bother me in the least.
Then comes the chicken. Everyone gets a whole roasted chicken. Be ready to dig in and eat with your hands. Oh how I wish I took pictures. Delicious! Looking at the seating capacity of the arena, and knowing their shows always fill up (twice a day) it amazes me how many chickens they go through in a day.
The servers then go down their rows with buckets of roasted corn and then trays of potato wedges and slices of of pork loin.
I don’t know if I should say this or not–but I ate every bit of my meal. No left overs for this girl! The meal was GOOD, it was gluten free, I didn’t have to cook it, and I was hungry. I enjoyed every bit of it!
Dessert. You won’t be left out just because you require gluten free. I received a large Udi’s snickerdoodle cookie, still wrapped, but warmed. Very good!
*Always ask the appropriate questions and don’t take my word or anyone else’s.
Donut Without u (you) Says "Don't"
Remove yourself from a situation where “gluten-free” foods are fried in NON dedicated oil. When you take the u out of “gluten-freeish” donuts, you are left with “don’t.” Just DON’T.
I want to eventually dedicate a separate post to this subject. so I’ll make this short. Shortly before our get-away, someone had posted somewhere on social media that Hurts Donuts in Branson offered gluten-free donuts. I wish I remembered who the poster was, but she said their gluten-free donuts were fried in dedicated oil. hmmmm
I can do without the sweet treats lately, and didn’t have a dying need for a donut, but we stopped by just so I could inquire. Honestly, I don’t generally eat baked goods or pizzas from shared facilities as a rule. Cross contact is about so much more than a dedicated fryer, obviously. I have to hear something great that gives me the confidence of the precautions and safety measures before I’ll eat from one of these types of facilities (which is maybe once every few years or so). But I thought I’d stop by and ask.
The gal at the counter first said they only make their gluten-free(ish) donuts on the weekends. “Wait, Glute-free(ish)?” I asked. Yup, she said they call them gluten-freeish because they are not fried in dedicated oil. UGH!! Can you guess what my new least favorite word is now?
I then asked to talk to a manager because I wondered how they were advertised. I picture a family going in, thinking their gluten-free family member can enjoy a shared experience, only to either be greatly disappointed or to take an unsafe risk. She told me that yes, they are fried in shared oil, but their customers don’t have a problem with it. SUPER UGH (at many levels). I was then told that they do use fresh toppings, however, for their gluten-free(ish) don’ts. WHAT’S THE POINT, if they are already involved in a cross contact experience in their fryer?!!!
So much for keeping this short. I’ll stop there and move on.
(Their regular donuts do look amazing, however, for those who don’t need to be gluten free.)
*Remember, we cannot expect all facilities to provide gluten free. That would be unreasonable and unfair. But when there is suggestion that gluten free items are provided, be sure to ask questions and decide for yourself if true Gluten Free Respect is given.
BBQ on a Gluten-Free Bun=YUM!
We had eaten at Danna’s BBQ last time we were in Branson. I knew I just had to go again. We were inbetween winery visits and we were hungry. This suited my craving and my empty tummy.
Danna’s BBQ was another restaurant I had found on the Find Me Gluten Free app. They offer a gluten-free menu at the counter. It clearly states that they do not recommend any fried items. That gets my Gluten Free Respect (with a capital R).
I got a sandwich, piled high with yummy pulled pork. I don’t eat a lot of bread, but chose to get the bun this time. Their GF buns come from French Meadows Bakery and are OH-SO-Good!
*Always ask the appropriate questions and don’t take my word or anyone else’s.
Last But Not Least
Gluten Free isn't Everything (when it comes to my special requirements)
While I didn’t feel I had any gluten contamination (or at least didn’t experience any obvious reactions) — what I did react to was chemicals. And as someone who has a chemical fragrance sensitivity, this is much more difficult to have control over than the food.
I brought my air purifier and double checked with the hotel. They use fragrance free laundry products. I made an emphatic request NOT to use ANY air fresheners! But there was still something I was reacting to. Maybe they spray the mattress with disinfectant. ??
With this whole COVID year I know disinfectants have been greatly ramped up (and most include some kind of horrible scent). This issue makes the whole food issue seem minor in comparison. I have much more control of my food than the air I have to breathe. Between the disinfectants that I felt I could smell far more often than I cared to and my regular reactions when near someone using scented products, this is definitely an issue bigger than food.
Ending With a Plea
Besides the 30% of us who suffer from chemical sensitivity to some degree (30% of general population, not 30% of those with celiac)– I feel that those who face strict dietary requirements will understand my request and dilemma more than most.
Imagine someone coming along and sprinkling gluten on your food (often). Ev-er-y-thing seems to require fragrance these days. It is hard to get away from. I don’t understand why dish soap needs to smell like an ocean breeze, but sheesh-a-loo, it is everywhere. And for those of us who react to these chemicals (that toxic to all, not just those of us with immediate reactions) it can be brutal. My personal reactions are miserable. Inflammation and muscle pain. Cognitive and neurological, causing brain fog, back pain, emotional reactions, headaches, dizziness. Not fun. Avoidance is key. I know when to step back and I learn who and where to avoid.
How can you help? Please choose fragrance free when you can. Please avoid air fresheners, scented plug-ins, and scented laundry products. Those laundry products that advertise scent that lasts for weeks make my life and so many others’ lives absolutely miserable. And as if that reaction of a person’s laundry product isn’t enough, the scent that remains on the furniture from visitors can last for days, causing on-going reactions. These chemicals are “sticky” and made to adhere to everything. They are also a major source of outdoor air pollution through dryer vents.
For more information, check out my post My Mask Isn’t Your Mask: Fragrance Sensitivity.
This Post Has 2 Comments
Thank you for sharing! I am gluten free and ALSO have an extreme chemical/scent sensitivity! We have a condo in Branson and visit often. We’ve found many great gf options, including those you’ve mentioned. I wonder if you happened to have noticed and/or been affected by the extreme scents that are pumped into and drift out of Andy B’s social on the landing? I absolutely cannot go in, and I pretty much hold my breath and cover my nose when I walk by as the smell is so strong! It causes an immediate reaction in my throat and sets off my asthma. I wish more people understood this😥. When visiting the area with family I felt terrible as the group wanted to go there. I certainly encouraged them to go without me but they were kind and we opted for Black Oak, which was fabulous as you stated. Thanks for creating more awareness and for your research and suggestions on dining 👍
Rebecca,thank you so much for your comment! This chemical fragrance sensitivity is far more difficult than being gluten free, isn’t it? I wish those who aren’t so impacted realized how toxic so many of these chemicals are to everyone. I’m so glad your family was considerate of you in their choice. I cannot actually picture Andy B’s, even though I’ve walked up and down the Landing several times, haha. I did notice, every now and then, scents outside and wondered if it was disinfectants. I think restaurants (like hospitals) should require not just the facility to be fragrance free, but all staff. When I eat, the only thing I want to smell is my food!