Best Gluten-Free Menu Items That Are Normally Off Limits (Pizza, Pasta and More!)

On August 2, the Food and Drug Administration finally decided to define the term "gluten free." Up until then, manufacturers had been able to slap the label on anything that they felt was gluten free enough. How much gluten to include in gluten-free products was completely up to the discretion of the individual companies.

Not anymore though! Now, according to the FDA, products labeled gluten free will have to contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This amount is recognized by the medical community as low enough that it won't make people suffering from Celiac disease ill.

Because more and more people are being diagnosed with Celiac disease or other gluten intolerances (my mom swears it makes her joints hurt), many restaurants are also accommodating the gluten free public. We've compiled a few lists in the past of the best local joints offering gluten free menus or a number of gluten free items. They could probably use an update, as they were written in 2011 and 2012, but today's list is all about specific menu items.

Where's the best gluten-free burger (bun) in town? How 'bout gluten free pasta or pizza? We've got a round up of all that and more!

Best Gluten-Free Pizza

Pink's Pizza makes Neapolitan-style pizza in four locations across Houston, and all four offer gluten-free crust. It's not made in-house like the rest of Pink's dough, but it's pretty tasty for something that's gluten free. It's not dry or flaky like some gluten-free pizza crust. It has a nice chewy firmness to it, and it can hold up against some of the awesome toppings Pink's piles on its pizzas. Unfortunately, the gluten-free crust is only available in the 12-inch size, and it's an extra $4. I recommend the Luigi, which has Canadian bacon, gorgonzola, mozzarella, portabella mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, apples and roasted garlic with a pesto sauce. Heck, even if the gluten-free crust wasn't that good, you wouldn't know it with all of that deliciousness on top of it.

Best Gluten-Free Burger

Obviously burger patties are, by nature, gluten free. I'm talking about the buns. Guru Burgers and Crepes offers buns sans gluten, so folks with an intolerance can enjoy a good burger with a fluffy, toasted bun just like everybody else. The patties are great too; Guru uses only Akaushi beef and has a number of topping options that run the gamut from simple and standard to peanut butter and bananas. Guru also has salmon and lamb burgers (that can be topped with gluten-free buns, of course) as well as gluten-free crepe batter for a yummy dessert. Note: They may be delicious for folks with Celiac disease, but neither the burgers nor the crepes are guilt free.

Best Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

Every Tuesday, Pondicheri offers fried chicken marinated in a spicy yogurt masala then rolled in chickpea flour and fried. The chickpea flour makes it both gluten free and Indian-inspired, so this fried chicken is extra special. It's served with curried fingerling potatoes and arugula and blueberry salad, and $25 will get you enough to feed two. It's so good, you won't even realize you're skipping out on the gluten that usually coats fried chicken. In fact, you may never fry chicken in anything other than chickpea flour again.

Best Gluten-Free Cake

If you're going to go the gluten-free-dessert route, go chocolate or go home. At Mary's Gluten Free Bakery, there's a Chocolate Italian Cream cake that puts cakes with all of their gluten intact to shame. It's a combination of pure cocoa powder cream mixed with coconut and toasted pecans and topped with any icing you want. I recommend the traditional cream cheese, but hey it's your cake. Go wild!

Best Gluten-Free Mexican Food

I realize "Mexican food" is an incredibly broad category, but everything on Hugo's gluten-free menu is pretty damn good. It helps that most Mexican and Asian food is corn or rice-based, so it's easy to it without gluten. If it's Mexican you're after, try the Col. Rizada Tacos. They're Oaxaca-style chopped veggie tacos with kale, cauliflower, onions, garlic and tomatillo sauce served in corn tortillas. This dish also happens to be vegan! Hugo's has great gluten-free desserts as well, including a brownie tort and pumpkin pie.

Best Gluten-Free Pasta

A number of local restaurants have gluten-free pasta options, but Trevisio's corn flower angel hair pasta takes the cake. It's featured in Cappellini, a pasta dish of jumbo lump crab meat, tomatoes, herbs and lemon butter. It's simple and hearty and the pasta isn't overly gummy like some gluten-free pastas tend to be. If you're still not sure that gluten-free pasta will taste the same as regular pasta, there's always risotto, and Trevisio has a great mushroom risotto option too.

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