Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gluten Free in Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

Dawn from 30,000 feet
When you’ve got Celiac Disease, airports can be your worst nightmare.  Short trips are fine because you can plan ahead and can avoid airport food, but long trips, or unexpected long trips, can really become trouble for us.  I don’t know about you, but the additional stress of knowing I don’t have another option and will stuck in public if I start feeling bad is incredibly stressful.  Hopefully within the next few years airports will start becoming a little more allergy friendly, but for now I hope my experiences will make traveling a bit easier for you.

I’ve been to the Houston Hobby airport many times.  I live in Dallas and frequently fly out of Love Field, which pretty much guarantees a connection through Hobby when traveling anywhere in the South.  This summer I met my family in Destin for a few days and got to spend a few hours wandering around the airport.
3rd Bar Oyster & Eating House in IAH

I left Dallas at 5:45am and arrived in Houston in time for a really early brunch.  I was really surprised at the swanky, chic and relaxing ambience of 3rd Bar Oyster & Eating House.  I chose a secluded and comfortable booth towards the back of the restaurant and totally plugged into the jazz music playing overhead.  With a mimosa in hand (an expensive mimosa, mind you) I knew I had chosen the perfect place to start my trip.  The waitress was extremely helpful and directed me towards their omelet, hashbrowns and bacon.  Their breakfast potatoes are made with corn starch and are sautéed instead of fried-great news for a Celiac!  The meal was great and I’d highly recommend it.  Their lunch and dinner menu seemed to rival any nice restaurant you’d find in the city, but it did seem a bit expensive.  So if you’re traveling with a family, this may not be the place for you.

Brunch at IAH Airport
On my way home, my flight from Destin was delayed which in turn cased me to miss my connecting flight.  Always a fun afternoon, right? Luckily, it only extended my time in Houston by about 2 hours, so I wandered around again and chose to sit down at the airport Chili’s.  My waiter was not very helpful and told me that the airport Chili’s get their supplies differently than the chains do; leading me to doubt if the Chili’s gluten free menu would hold up in the airport.  After many questions, I had clearly exhausted my waiter but felt comfortable enough ordering the Caribbean salad.  I was hoping for some type of carb (in the form of French fries or mashed potatoes) but he told me those were probably not safe.  The salad came in a very small portion, but was able to hold me over until I got home.  Airport Chili’s aren’t always the best, but with some questioning, you can usually find something to eat.

A few other options I found while perusing the airport’s website include:

Barcuterie- If you bring your own crackers or are in the mood for a good cheese platter, this seems like a great option.

Camden Food Co – Looks like a great place to grab a salad, omelets and the like.  Their website says that they offer gluten-free fare, so this definitely is worth a try!

Cat Cora’s Kitchen- Okay, if I had known this existed, I would have never eaten at Chili’s during my unexpected layover.  While the airport restaurant does not have a website, nor does she have a gluten free menu, I’m sure you’d be able to find something delicious and free of gluten.

La Tapendade – This Mediterranean Café offers fresh cuisine but seems like it’d offer more of a light meal for us gluten-free travelers.  Choose this restaurant for fresh cheese, meats and salad options.

Le Grand Comptoir- Again, I’m wondering what I was doing during my layover to not know a place like this existed in the airport.  This restaurant seems to offer an elegant steakhouse-like atmosphere with quality foods.  In 2010 it was ranked the “Best Airport Hotspot” by Travel + Leisure and seems to live up to it’s award.

Nature’s Kitchen Fresh Café – Another great spot to grab a salad on the go.

Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen – Like their chains, the Pappadeaux are always an easy bet when dining gluten free.  Choose from a variety of seafood and chicken options that can be prepared gluten free (just notify your waiter).

Wendy’s – Doesn’t require much explanation.  As a chain they provide an extensive gluten-free menu, but make sure to check with the airport restaurant before ordering.  


  1. These places are at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), not Hobby airport.

  2. These places are at Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), not Hobby airport.