Are Eat N Park mashed potatoes gluten free?

Quick Answer

Eat N Park does not have gluten-free mashed potatoes on their menu. Their regular mashed potatoes contain wheat flour, which contains gluten. For people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the Eat N Park mashed potatoes should be avoided.

Ingredients in Eat N Park Mashed Potatoes

According to the Eat N Park website, their mashed potatoes contain the following ingredients:

  • Potatoes
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Wheat flour

The key ingredient here in relation to gluten is wheat flour. Wheat flour contains gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that some people cannot tolerate.

For people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, consuming gluten triggers an immune response in their body, causing symptoms like abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. This is why they need to avoid gluten in their diet by not consuming ingredients like wheat flour.

Since Eat N Park’s regular mashed potatoes contain wheat flour, they are not gluten-free. Someone following a gluten-free diet would need to avoid these mashed potatoes.

Why Eat N Park Adds Wheat Flour to Their Mashed Potatoes

The main reason restaurants like Eat N Park add wheat flour to their mashed potatoes is to help thicken the consistency.

Mashed potatoes on their own can be quite thin and runny. Adding a thickening agent like wheat flour helps bind the potatoes together and results in creamier, richer mashed potatoes.

The wheat flour gives the mashed potatoes a nicer texture and helps them hold their shape better on the plate. It prevents a thin, watery consistency.

So while this improves the flavor and texture for most people, it makes the mashed potatoes unsuitable for anyone trying to avoid gluten.

Are the Eat N Park Mashed Potatoes Made from Scratch?

Yes, the mashed potatoes served at Eat N Park are made from scratch in each restaurant location. They don’t use instant or boxed mashed potatoes.

According to Eat N Park’s website, their mashed potatoes start with whole, skin-on potatoes. The potatoes are washed, peeled, and then boiled until tender.

Once cooked, the potatoes are mashed together with the other ingredients like milk, butter, and wheat flour until smooth and creamy.

So while not gluten-free, Eat N Park’s mashed potatoes are homemade rather than instant. Many restaurants rely on boxed instant mashed potatoes to save time and labor costs. But Eat N Park mashes theirs fresh in-house.

Are Any of Eat N Park’s Mashed Potato Options Gluten-Free?

Unfortunately, none of the mashed potato options on Eat N Park’s menu are gluten-free.

Their regular mashed potatoes contain wheat flour, as discussed above.

Eat N Park also offers loaded mashed potatoes as a menu item. These contain the restaurant’s traditional mashed potatoes along with toppings like bacon, cheddar cheese, green onions, and sour cream.

Since the base is still their regular mashed potatoes made with wheat flour, the loaded mashed potatoes also contain gluten.

So whether ordering the classic mashed potatoes or the loaded version, both contain gluten from wheat flour and are not safe for a gluten-free diet.

What About Potential Cross-Contamination?

Even if Eat N Park offered gluten-free mashed potatoes made without wheat flour, there could still be risk of cross-contamination with gluten in their kitchen.

Since the same equipment is used to make gluten-containing and gluten-free dishes, traces of gluten can inadvertently get transferred to the gluten-free food during prep and cooking.

For example, the pots used to boil the potatoes may also be used to cook wheat-based dishes. Or the same scoops could be used to portion both the gluten and gluten-free mashed potatoes.

Unless strong protocols are in place to prevent cross-contamination, gluten exposure can easily occur for guests with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

Are Any Eat N Park Menu Items Gluten-Free?

While the mashed potatoes aren’t gluten-free, Eat N Park does offer some gluten-free menu options:

  • Greek salad
  • Garden side salad
  • Broccoli florets
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Applesauce
  • Fruit bowl
  • Oatmeal
  • Eggs cooked to order
  • Plain hamburger patties
  • Grilled chicken breast

These menu items don’t inherently contain gluten, but as noted above, there is still risk of cross-contamination occurring in the kitchen.

Eat N Park does not claim to have a gluten-free kitchen or prep area. So even these “gluten-free” menu options could pick up traces of gluten during cooking and preparation.

Guests with celiac disease are advised to exercise caution when choosing gluten-free dishes from any restaurant that doesn’t specialize in gluten-free food prep.

Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free at Eat N Park

If you need to avoid gluten, here are some tips for ordering gluten-free meals at Eat N Park:

  • Check the menu online first and pick your meal ahead of time
  • Ask if they have a gluten-free menu available
  • Specify that you have celiac disease and cannot have any gluten
  • Request that your meal be prepared separately with clean utensils
  • Avoid fried items, as fryers are often contaminated with gluten
  • Ask for sauces and dressings on the side
  • Substitute mashed potatoes with steamed veggies or fruit
  • Stick to naturally gluten-free foods like salads, grilled meats, and oatmeal
  • Pass on bread baskets and other baked goods

While Eat N Park tries to accommodate diners with food intolerances, they ultimately can’t guarantee a 100% gluten-free meal. Be cautious when dining out and getting meals customized.

Should You Rely on Eat N Park for Gluten-Free Dining?

Eat N Park is not the most reliable option for strictly gluten-free dining due to the risk of cross-contamination. Their kitchen is not designated gluten-free.

Individual locations may vary in their awareness about celiac disease and protocols for avoiding cross-contamination. But in general, Eat N Park is not well-suited for gluten-free guests.

Your safest bet is choosing restaurants that specialize in gluten-free food prep when you need to strictly avoid gluten exposure. Look for dedicated gluten-free kitchens or prep areas in restaurants.

While Eat N Park tries to meet special dietary needs, their mashed potatoes and many menu items contain gluten. Use caution when selecting gluten-free meals at Eat N Park. Focus on basic dishes like salads, grilled meats, and fruit.

Should You Speak to the Manager About Gluten-Free Options?

Speaking to a manager ahead of time about your need to eat gluten-free at Eat N Park is a wise idea. Here are some tips for that conversation:

– Introduce yourself and explain that you have celiac disease, meaning you cannot consume any gluten.

– Ask if they have experience accommodating guests with celiac disease and preparing gluten-free orders.

– Inquire about their process for avoiding cross-contamination of gluten-free dishes.

– Ask if they can clean cooking surfaces and use fresh utensils to prepare your food separately.

– Request that your meal be made without flour, bread crumbs, soy sauce, or other gluten ingredients.

– Have them walk through the menu with you to identify the safest gluten-free choices.

– Be polite but firm that you need real precautions taken, beyond just removing croutons from a salad.

– Thank them for their help ensuring you can safely enjoy a meal at their restaurant.

The more you educate and create awareness, the better your dining experience will be. Just remember that “gluten-free” menu options at restaurants like Eat N Park don’t guarantee the meal is 100% gluten-free. Use caution and listen to your body’s reactions.

Should You Tip Extra for Special Accommodations?

If the restaurant staff is willing to take extra steps to accommodate your gluten-free order, it’s appropriate to provide a larger tip.

Tipping an extra few dollars or 20%+ of the bill shows your appreciation for the kitchen making adjustments to prevent cross-contamination and ensure your safe dining experience.

Of course, the quality of service should factor into the tip amount as well. You don’t need to over-tip for mediocre service or food.

But if the staff seems knowledgeable, answers your questions, takes precautions with your order, and provides exceptional service overall, they deserve a generous tip for going above and beyond.

Kudos to restaurants who train their staff to assist customers with food allergies or intolerances. With good communication and awareness, dining out with dietary restrictions doesn’t have to be difficult or dangerous.

Common Questions About Eat N Park and Gluten

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about eating gluten-free at Eat N Park:

Do Eat N Park fried items share fryers with gluten items?

Yes. Eat N Park does not designate certain fryers as gluten-free. Their fryers are used for menu items that contain gluten, like fried chicken, fish sandwiches, and mozzarella sticks.

Can you substitute a side salad instead of mashed potatoes?

Yes, you can substitute any Eat N Park side salad or steamed veggies instead of the mashed potatoes. Just request the substitution when ordering.

Do Eat N Park hamburger buns contain gluten?

Yes, Eat N Park’s regular hamburger buns contain gluten. However, you can order a hamburger without the bun to make it gluten-free.

Does Eat N Park have gluten-free bread or pasta?

No, Eat N Park does not offer any gluten-free bread or pasta options currently. Bringing your own gluten-free bread or pasta is recommended if needed.

Are Eat N Park soup options gluten-free?

Some Eat N Park soups may be gluten-free, but they likely carry risk of cross-contamination. Check the ingredients and ask about how they prepare their soups to be sure.

The Bottom Line

In summary, Eat N Park’s mashed potatoes are not gluten-free. They contain wheat flour, making them unsuitable for anyone following a gluten-free diet due to medical reasons or personal preference.

While Eat N Park tries to meet various dietary needs, they do not specialize in gluten-free cuisine. Their kitchens are high risk for cross-contamination, and no items are guaranteed to be 100% gluten-free.

Your safest bet when dining gluten-free is choosing restaurants that have separate gluten-free prep areas and strictly avoid cross-contamination. But with care, planning, and special requests, you may be able to enjoy a meal at Eat N Park while gluten-free. Focus on simple dishes and inform staff about your needs.

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