Thanksgiving, a holiday devoted to indulgent eating with a side of gratitude, thrives on tradition. Aside from the turkey centerpiece, the table typically includes bread rolls, stuffing and pumpkin pie. But if you're gluten-free, you're not feeling very thankful for this spread.
For holiday gatherings with a set menu, avoiding gluten is harder than staying sober at a family reunion. However, that doesn't mean gluten-free eaters are stuck with a side salad and sweet potatoes. Restaurants and bakeries across Chicago are serving gluten-free versions of Thanksgiving favorites and sharing the recipes.
Here are five places offering holiday dishes that everyone can enjoy:
The new Lincoln Park hotspot Summer House might look like a Santa Monica export, but the menu nails Midwestern taste buds. The potato-polenta mash, including the requisite cream and butter, deserves to supplant the traditional mound of mashed potatoes. Polenta, a naturally gluten-free cornmeal, adds welcome texture to a side dish known more for quantity than ingredient quality. Summer House also provides an entirely gluten-free menu, making it an ideal destination for a post-Thanksgiving meal. Don't miss their dessert bar where chef Jeff Mahin sets a new standard for gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
Summer House, 1954 N. Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); (773) 634-4100; summerhousesm.com
E+O Food And Drink
Even if you grew up loathing Brussels sprouts, this dish from E+O Food And Drink will convert you. Chef Rodelio Aglibot miraculously combined two things that no one is usually hankering for, a green vegetable and salad, and elevated both to must-have status. The crispy Brussels sprouts and kale salad is a tossed with jalapeños, fried shallots, carrots, chilies, red cabbage, and a sweet chili lime vinaigrette. Instead of the traditional roasted veggie side, this flavor-packed salad offers a tasty gluten-free alternative.
E+O Food And Drink, 125 Randhurst Village Drive, Mount Prospect, IL 60056 (map); (847) 398-3636; eofoodanddrink.com
Stuffing is gluten incarnate—a dish based primarily on bread. For the gluten-free crowd, it's a frustrating reminder of what we can't consume. Fortunately, as more gluten-free breads have hit the market, stuffing is no longer completely off-limits. Prasino chef Jared Case created a gluten-free, vegetarian stuffing recipe with a short ingredient list and big flavor. The surprising light dish features carrots, celery, onion and fresh sage, but home chefs can add their own elements. On the restaurant's menu, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items are clearly noted, making it stress-free to order safely.
Prasino, 846 W Division Street, Chicago, IL 60622 (map); (312) 878-1212; prasino.com
It's not every day that a gluten-free restaurant earns a Michelin Star. Senza, a fine dining restaurant in Lakeview, might be the very first to receive this honor. While their four and nine-course tasting menus are well worth a leisurely dinner, they also sell gluten-free baked goods in the morning as Wheat's End Café. Just in time for Thanksgivukkah, they've created a special pumpkin challah. The orange hued braided loaf is the perfect marriage of two overlapping holidays and a welcome addition to any table. No word yet on edible menorahs or pumpkin spice dreidels.
Senza, 2873 N Broadway Street, Chicago, IL 60657 (map); (773) 770-3527; senzachicago.com
Aside from Halloween, Thanksgiving is prime time for pumpkins. Usually that just means pumpkin pie, but Vanille Patisserie sells pumpkin macarons. You can also find decadent flourless chocolate cake and almond flour cookies that are naturally gluten-free and just small enough that you can eat a handful without guilt. As for chocolate cake, sometimes breaking tradition just tastes better.
Vanille Patisserie, 2229 N Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 (map); (773) 868-4574; vanillepatisserie.com