Eating gluten free at Portillos can seem challenging, but with some planning and knowledge of the menu, it is very possible to enjoy delicious food there while avoiding gluten. Portillos offers some naturally gluten free options, as well as the ability to modify other menu items to be gluten free. Here are some tips and strategies for eating gluten free at this iconic Chicago restaurant chain.
Overview of Gluten Free Options at Portillos
While Portillos menu is not dedicated gluten free, there are still some good options for those avoiding gluten. Here are some of the naturally gluten free menu items to consider:
- Salads without croutons – Portillos offers fresh side salads and entree sized salads that can be ordered without the standard croutons to be gluten free.
- Fruit cups – the fresh fruit cups contain just fruit and are not cross contaminated.
- Sandwiches without bread – sandwiches like the Italian beef or chicken breast can be ordered wrapped in lettuce instead of on the bread bun to avoid gluten.
- Most burger patties – the pure beef patties and some turkey burger options do not contain gluten fillers and can be ordered without a bun.
- French fries – while fried in shared oil, Portillos fries are made from just potatoes and are safe for gluten free diets when avoiding cross contact.
While the above items are naturally gluten free, most menu items at Portillos contain gluten or are at risk for cross contact with gluten. However, many items can be modified to be gluten free, as discussed next.
How to Modify Portillos Menu Items to be Gluten Free
The majority of Portillos extensive menu contains gluten in ingredients like battered coatings, sandwich buns, pasta, and sauces. However, you can request certain modifications to make many of these items safe for a gluten free diet:
- Request sandwiches without the bun – sandwiches like Italian beef, chicken breast, and some burgers can be made gluten free by serving them without the bun.
- Substitute fries for coleslaw as the side – the coleslaw contains gluten, but fries can be a gluten free side substitution.
- Order rice instead of pasta for pasta dishes – items like the chicken parmigiana can be made over a serving of rice instead of pasta.
- Avoid breaded items – menu items that are coated and breaded like the chicken tenders and chicken breasts contain gluten, so should be avoided.
- Ask for plain beef items – chili, hot dogs, and items with sauce can contain gluten, but plain roast beef is a good option.
- Get sandwiches “light” – this means without the au jus to avoid gluten containing gravy.
Being very explicit with your order is key. Make sure to confirm that sandwiches come without buns, sauces and gravies are left off, pasta is substituted for rice, etc. Checking with your server to see if certain modifications can be accommodated is also a good idea.
Important Considerations When Ordering
When ordering gluten free at Portillos, there are some important factors to keep in mind:
- Cross contact is likely – even gluten free orders are prepared in the same kitchen alongside gluten containing items, so there is a good chance of cross contact occurring.
- Communicate with staff – make sure your server understands it is an allergy related request and confirm the order is placed accurately.
- Breads and buns contain gluten – all sandwich breads, burger buns, and rolls at Portillos contain gluten.
- Fried items share fryers – even though fries are gluten free, there is cross contact with fried foods containing gluten.
- Sauces and dressings may have gluten – check on each menu item and dressing served with your salad.
Being aware of potential sources of gluten and clearly communicating with staff is key to getting a gluten free meal. While they make an effort, gluten free is not Portillos specialty.
Top Tips for Eating Gluten Free at Portillos
Here are some summarized tips for getting a good gluten free meal at Portillos based on the strategies outlined:
- Stick to naturally gluten free menu items when possible such as salads, fruits, and plain grilled meats.
- Build your own salad for maximum control.
- Order sandwiches wrapped in lettuce instead of on buns.
- Ask for gluten free substitutions like fries for coleslaw and rice for pasta.
- Avoid all breaded and fried menu choices.
- Request sauces, dressings, and gravy to be left off.
- Emphasize it is for an allergy and confirm your order is placed gluten free.
- Be aware even gluten free orders have risk of cross contact.
With some modifications, it is possible to enjoy your Portillos favorites gluten free. Just be vigilant in your ordering process and confirm every component of your meal is safe.
Gluten Free Options for Different Portillos Menu Categories
To make gluten free choices easier at Portillos, here are some safe meal options to consider in each food category:
- Italian Beef without bun
- Chicken breast sandwich lettuce wrapped
- Burger or turkey burger without bun
- House salad without croutons
- Caesar salad without croutons
- Build your own salad with gluten free ingredients
- Fresh fruit cup
- French fries
- Baked potato without butter
- Grilled chicken breast
- Meatball sandwich without bread
- Chopped salad without croutons or dressing
- Chicken parmigiana with rice instead of pasta
- Vanilla or chocolate ice cream
Portillos Gluten Free Menu Options By Meal
If planning a full meal, here are some compiled gluten free options for main dishes, sides, and desserts:
Gluten Free Lunch Options
Main: Grilled chicken breast lettuce wrap
Side: Fresh fruit cup
Drink: Iced tea
Main: Burger patty lettuce wrapped
Gluten Free Dinner Options
Main: Italian beef without bun
Side: Baked potato
Drink: Iced tea
Main: Grilled chicken salad without croutons
Dessert: Chocolate ice cream
Drink: Bottled water
Tips for Eating Gluten Free In General at Restaurants
In addition to the Portillos specific tips, here are some general guidelines for eating gluten free safely when dining out:
- Research the menu online first and identify naturally gluten free options.
- Tell your server you need gluten free for a medical reason.
- Request food be prepared in clean cookware and without utensils that touch gluten.
- Avoid fried and breaded foods cooked in shared fryers.
- Substitute sides like fries for menu items that contain gluten.
- Order sauces, dressings and marinades on the side.
- Opt for naturally gluten free items like salads, grilled meats, and fruit.
- Be aware that gluten free orders still risk cross contact.
- Thank the staff for their help and accommodation.
Following these best practices helps ensure you get a gluten free meal you can enjoy without worry.
While Portillos is not an entirely gluten free restaurant, with some planning and careful ordering, those avoiding gluten can find plenty of menu options. Focus on naturally gluten free items like salads, fruits, grilled plain meats, and fries. Modify sandwiches to be served without buns and opt for substitutions like rice instead of pasta. Avoid all breaded and fried foods. And be sure to confirm every component of your order with the wait staff. With some diligence, you can safely navigate the menu to find gluten free versions of those famous Portillos flavors.