Celiac Survival in Midland, Texas

We are grateful to the following restaurants and their staff for providing us with gluten-free food, and especially for the patience it takes to help us feel safe and at home in their places of business. Many times this involves the waitstaff looking up ingredients themselves, or bringing us packages to read so that we can be sure no obscure but toxic (to celiacs) items appear on the list (flour, modified food starch, natural flavors, malt, and vinegar are among the most common). When other celiacs visit these places, they will often find the staff is not surprised by their requests because we so often dine in these places ourselves; this should make visitors feel more at home.


Outback Steak House, 2314 W Loop 250 N, (915) 684-1152 
I haven't eaten at the Outback in a while so I can't tell you how safe it is or how cooperative the staff is, but the national chain has devised a gluten-free menu that's available online, in cooperation with the Gluten Intolerance Group (out of Seattle). If you have an Adobe Acrobat reader on your computer, you can get the menu in .PDF format, annotated for a gluten-free diet. I suggest printing that out and bringing it with you to the restaurant. They offer a flourless brownie (the Thunder from Downunder) that I hear is wonderful, as well as a toasted-coconut rolled vanilla ice cream sundae.
Shogun Steak House, Garfield just north of Loop 250 (915) 570-8888
        now featuring our own personal chef: ask for Miri, she knows the diet inside and out (both gluten-free and dairy-free)!
When we want something really fun and special, this has always been our first choice. A Japanese restaurant where you sit at a table surrounding a huge grill, and the chef prepares your meal right in front of you, complete with flashing knives and bad jokes. We usually bring our own Tamari Sauce (which can be purchased at Natural Foods Market) and I often bring homemade Teriyaki, too. You really want to ask to be seated at a separate table from other diners, though, to avoid cross contamination (the spatula used to turn their soy sauce drenched food will otherwise also be used to flip your food). There are many safe bets here, even without the tamari, including plainly cooked chicken, seafood and steaks, but it's best if you can "bring your own" and the staff here is used to it.
Wendy's, Loop 250 and Midland Drive
Top of the list, not only because the staff spots us coming and takes great pains to make sure they get our order right, but also because Wendy's used to offer a list of gluten-free foods on the WWW (but it seems to have disappeared), and will provide on request a brochure listing ingredients of commonly served items. Ted loves the plain hamburger kid's meal "no bun, just meat" and french fries, and the frosty. I often eat the grilled chicken breast (not the breaded one) ((but no sauce!)) with lettuce and tomato, or the burger or bacon burger, with lettuce and tomatoes. The taco salad is safe, as is a baked potato with cheese and brocolli. The chili is also safe and especially nice when a Blue Norther blows a cold-front through the city.
Luby's Cafeteria, Andrews Highway and Kansas Streets
Don't visit on a Wednesday since they do pot roast instead of roast beef that day, but most other days the roast beef is safe. We generally have pretty simple fare: roast beef with natural gravy ("au juice" to us gourmet types), broccoli and corn, maybe a baked potato. Dessert is usually the middle of a pumpkin or pecan pie (what do the buspersons think of the empty shells of pie crust left behind?) or maybe the baked flan (a mexican custard). Ted also enjoys getting a block of cheddar cheese at the checkout stand and dissecting it at the table. We usually get the Andes mint on the way out, too.
Way Out West Steak House, 515 Andrews Hwy, (915) 697-4196
Across the street from Luby's, a buffet-style steak house, I have found their salad bar to be less controlled han it should be, so I tend to just stick to a steak and baked potato here, but what a steak! and what a potato! The baked potato is the best in town, with a dry, sturdy skin and a fluffy (not soggy) interior -- yum! and the steaks are always tender and tasty and a generous portion for the price. Ask for a plain steak (no basting sauce) and you'll be amazed at the flavor.
McDonalds, Loop 250 near Midkiff; Andrews Highway near Midkiff
Plain patties, french fries are standard fare here. For breakfast Ted and I have scrambled eggs and sausage, hash browns.
On The Border, Loop 250 on the north east corner of Midland Drive (915) 694-9922
I spent a lot of time going through the manager's book of foods and ingredients in this restaurant -- they were awfully nice to let me spend so much time on it -- but I was frustrated by the number of packaged mixes they used in many of their meals. I was, therefore, unable to determine that much was safe (I even tried calling the company that makes their mixes but was unable to even obtain a good phone number to reach anyone). The one food I've found to be safe that I enjoy is on the build your own plate menu, the "Enchiladas: Chicken and Sour Cream" though I have to ask them to hold the beans and rice as I don't know what's in them. Instead I eat their Mexislaw (hold the dressing). My son Ted has the kid nachos, essentially "cheese on chips" and again, hold the beans and rice.
Kuo's Chinese Restaurant, Midkiff north of Wadley, in San Miguel Square, (915) 697-8888
I haven't eaten here often, but when I do they are scrupulous about making sure that there's no soy sauce on my food, and that everything is gluten-free. Aside from that, it's got the best tasting Chinese food in town (a little less Standard American Generic Chinese food than everyplace else).
Cattle Barron Restaurant, Wadley, just west of Big Spring, (915) 683-2334
We've only eaten here a few times, but a bunless burger or a steak are safe bets, and there's a generous salad bar, too.
Gluten-Free Registry
Here's a very nice index of gluten-free venues, searchable by state.

Not Yet Tried

Look for the "Download Allergen Information" link and you'll find a printable menu you can bring with you to the restaurant.


Grocery Stores

Natural Foods Market, Wadley just east of Midkiff
This is where I do most of my grocery shopping. Larry Satterfield, the proprietor, is allergic to wheat and he gets a continuing education from me about celiac disease. The freezer has Van's Waffles, the cookie shelf carries Jennie's Macaroons, Pamela's cookies (there's a gf chocolate chip, peanut butter, and shortbread among others, but I find these a bit dull and dry; okay in a pinch though), and some lovely gluten-free biscotti. There are gluten-free chips (the Terra chips, and Barbara's corn chips), rice crackers, some safe dried soups, Ener-G breads, and the usual mix of supplies (xanthan gum, Ener-G flours) as well as organic produce, and bins with nuts etc. They carry a small selection of rice pasta, as well as Ancient Harvest Quinoa-Corn pasta. Buy a bottle of San-J wheat-free tamari sauce if you're going to visit Shogun or Kuo restaurants. Natural Foods Market is closed on Sunday, and only open 10-6 Monday-Saturday.
HEB, Midkiff just south of Wadley
Our new BIG grocery store has a deli with a large selection of Boars Head meat and cheese. I called Boars Head and was assured that the only deli meats that were not safe were the "loaf" types that contain suspect ingredients -- pickle loaf, for example -- because the additions to those loaves may contain non-gf vinegar. So have at those hams, that pastrami, those lovely cheeses! The hummus in the section next to the deli is also safe, along with most of the cheese -- some from really exotic places. Up two more isles you'll find the Oriental food section, which has plain rice crackers that serve as an excellent foil for all the above deli items. (Near the deli you'll also find the Contadina Alfredo Sauce -- not the light! it has wheat! -- you can put on pasta from Natural Foods Market.) Other "fast food" available here include yogurt (Yoplait) and pudding snacks (Hunts) as well as fresh fruit and vegetables, of course!

I'd like to encourage celiacs everywhere to put up web pages telling us what's safe to eat in the places they live and travel.

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Page added: February 5, 1997. Moved from old site January 31, 1999. Last update: January 07, 2009