Gluten-free Iowa City: A #nimatested Dining Guide
Lindsey is currently a Sophomore studying Microbiology at the University of Iowa. She is a member of the University of Iowa’s Celi-Yaks Club. She was diagnosed with Celiac Disease one year ago and recently became a Nima College Ambassador.
Since coming to the University of Iowa in the Fall of 2017, I have struggled with finding safe places to eat both on and off campus. Cross-contamination is a huge problem in Iowa City, both in the campus dining halls and at the multitude of chain restaurants located downtown.
For this reason I joined the Celi-Yaks Club – a club dedicated to raising awareness about celiac disease and gluten intolerance in the Iowa City area. This past December, our club purchased a Nima Sensor and I was elected to be the Nima College Ambassador.
Braving the winter weather, I set out with the Nima Sensor to put 5 local restaurants to the test.
Tip: I found that lubricating the capsules with a little hand lotion helps to get them closed, along with using the capsule wrench.
Location: 575 Cameron Way, North Liberty, IA 52317
#nimatested Dish: Gluten-free fries
Notes: My first venture out with the Nima Sensor was actually a group club outing to BeerBurger in North Liberty, which is about a 20-minute drive from the University of Iowa campus. BeerBurger has an extensive number of items that can be made gluten-free on request, including their fries, potato dishes, mac n cheese, salads, all of their burgers, and most of their sandwiches.
The photo on the right shows our club vice-president, Sophie, holding up the sensor after we tested the gluten-free fries. As long as you specify that you want your dish gluten-free, you shouldn’t have any problems at BeerBurger!
Location: 14 S Clinton St., Iowa City, IA 52240
#nimatested Dish: Gluten-free carrot cake cupcake
Notes: Molly’s Cupcakes is a renowned bakery in Iowa City, with additional locations in Des Moines, New York, and Chicago. Luckily for students, the tiny cookie and cake shop is just across the street from the U of I campus. They serve gluten-free cupcakes in the following flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and carrot cake. All three varieties are ready-to-serve all day.
The cupcake I had was for my mom’s birthday, and it was just as moist and delicious as a regular cupcake. Definitely a go-to for when I am craving something sweet and do not want to walk far.
Location: 22 S Clinton St., Iowa City, IA 52240
#nimatested Dish: Gluten-free pizza
Notes: The Airliner is a beer, burger, and pizza joint, and while they do not have a gluten-free bun for their burgers, they do serve gluten-free pizza with either a traditional gluten-free crust or a cauliflower crust. I tested the traditional gluten-free crust, which came back clean. I also forgot to take a picture until after popping out the capsule – luckily the sensor has the “last test” smiley face!
Location: 132 S Clinton St., Iowa City, IA 52240
#nimatested Dish: Chocolate frozen yogurt
Notes: Yotopia is another beloved sweet-treat spot for U of I students. They serve frozen yogurt, smoothies, Greek yogurt parfaits, and shakes, with rotating flavors throughout the year. Their website states that all of their flavors are gluten-free, and all the flavors are marked as such in the store, but I have yet to test all of them. My favorite flavors are chocolate and strawberries & cream.
Location: 225 S Linn St., Iowa City, IA 52240
#nimatested Dish: Sweet potatoes, quinoa with mixed vegetables
Notes: Bread Garden Market is a combination grocery-store and restaurant located in Iowa City’s pedestrian mall. For people who have celiac disease, I’ve found that it is best to get food from their salad bar and hot bar, where they mark all items that are gluten-free.
The sweet potatoes and quinoa with mixed vegetables were both marked as such, and the Nima proved that with a smile. Bread Garden is one of the few places in Iowa City where the gluten-free selection is also colorful and nutritious.
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