Is Chuy’s celiac safe?

Chuy’s is a popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain with locations across the United States. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, dining out can be a challenge. With so many items containing gluten on most restaurant menus, it’s understandable for those avoiding gluten to have concerns about cross-contamination. So, is Chuy’s celiac safe? Let’s take a look at what precautions Chuy’s takes for diners with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition triggered by the ingestion of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it causes damage to the small intestine. This damage interferes with the absorption of nutrients from food. Symptoms of celiac disease may include diarrhea, abdominal pain, bloating, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition and anemia. The only treatment for celiac disease is maintaining a strict gluten-free diet. Even small amounts of cross-contamination can cause issues for those with celiac.

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale. It helps foods maintain their shape and gives elasticity to dough. It can be found in bread and baked goods, pasta, cereals, soy sauce, seasonings, soups, salad dressings, sauces and more. Those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity must avoid all foods containing gluten. Oats are naturally gluten-free but are often contaminated with wheat during growing and processing. There are gluten-free oats available that have been specially tested.

Is Chuy’s Menu Gluten-Free Friendly?

Chuy’s offers a variety of naturally gluten-free menu options and gluten-free substitutions. Their gluten-free menu makes it easier for diners to find safe options. You can choose from gluten-free chips and salsa, salads, grilled meats, fish and shrimp entrees. Sides like cilantro lime rice, black beans, squash and zucchini and green chile corn on the cob are gluten-free. However, it’s important to note that while some menu items are naturally gluten-free, cross-contamination is still a risk in the kitchen.

Chuy’s Precautions for Gluten-Free Diners

Chuy’s states on their website that they take steps to avoid cross-contamination for guests with food allergies or celiac disease. However, they also clearly state that the possibility of cross-contamination still exists. Here are some of the measures they take:

Gluten-Free Menu

Having a gluten-free menu makes it easier for diners to identify dishes that are safe or can be modified. The menu identifies items that are prepared to be gluten-free as well as noting naturally gluten-free choices.

Staff Training

Chuy’s staff is trained on gluten-free procedures and how to avoid cross-contamination when preparing gluten-free orders. Servers are educated about celiac disease and which menu items are safe choices.

Gluten-Free Fryer Oil

Chuy’s uses separate fryer oil for gluten-free frying. This avoids contamination from food particles. However, errors in food preparation may still occur.

Food Preparation

The kitchen has procedures in place to avoid cross-contamination when preparing gluten-free orders. This includes washing hands, using sanitized surfaces and clean utensils. Ingredients are kept separate.

Tortillas and Chips

Corn tortillas that do not contain wheat are used. The kitchen makes chips fresh daily in the gluten-free fryer oil.

Risk of Cross-Contamination at Chuy’s

While Chuy’s strives to accommodate gluten-free diners, cross-contamination is still possible in the restaurant environment. Even if a dish is gluten-free, preparation and service errors could occur. Some risks include:

Shared Cooking and Preparation Areas

Even using separate fryer oil, there are shared cooking surfaces, utensils and preparation areas used for gluten-containing and gluten-free foods. Trace amounts can get transferred.

Grill Surfaces

Grilled meats may come into contact with buns or sauce containing gluten. It’s unlikely grills and surfaces are cleaned thoroughly between each use.


While Chuy’s uses dedicated fryer oil, gluten traces could remain in the fryer itself or get transferred from shared frying utensils.

Employee Mistakes

There’s always a chance of human error. An employee could use a contaminated surface or cooking tool without realizing it.

Ingredients and Sauces

Some sauces, seasonings and ingredients used in the kitchen likely contain gluten and can come into accidental contact with gluten-free dishes.

Airborne Particles

Some flour or particles containing gluten could get airborne and land on gluten-free food during preparation in a shared kitchen.

How to Order Gluten-Free at Chuy’s

If you have celiac disease or are highly sensitive, take additional precautions when ordering at Chuy’s:

Specify Gluten Allergy

Tell your server you have celiac disease or a gluten allergy. Stress that you are highly sensitive and cross-contamination could make you sick.

Avoid Deep Fried Foods

Even with a dedicated fryer, the risks may be too high with deep fried foods. Stick to grilled meats, salads and other fresh prepared options.

Hold Croutons, Tortilla Strips

Request salads without croutons or tortilla strips to avoid contamination from sharing prep areas.

Choose Corn Over Flour Tortillas

Opt for soft corn tortillas instead of flour for tacos. Corn is naturally gluten-free.

Request No Sauce

Ask for entrees to be plain without sauce, which could contain hidden gluten ingredients. Use plain salsas instead.

Skip Shared Surfaces

Avoid items cooked on a shared grill or prepared on surfaces where gluten is present.

Inquire About Ingredients

Ask about preparation and ingredients in sauces, seasonings and sides if you have uncertainty about hidden gluten.

Check Food When Served

When meals arrive, inspect to ensure proper gluten-free dish, no croutons or tortilla strips and no sauce if requested plain. Send back if uncertain.

Is Chuy’s Safe for Celiac?

Chuy’s makes efforts to accommodate gluten-free guests. However, they are upfront that cross-contamination can occur. Someone with celiac disease or who is highly gluten-sensitive faces risks dining here. While some menu items may be reasonably safe, you need to ask questions and implement precautions. For those less sensitive, the gluten-free choices and menu can make eating here an option in a pinch. But there are safer choices for those who absolutely cannot be exposed to any cross-contact. Use your best judgement on your sensitivity level if deciding to eat at Chuy’s. Be extra careful, ask lots of questions, and watch closely how your food is prepared when ordering.

Other Restaurants That Are Safer for Celiac

If you want more peace of mind, your safest bet is choosing restaurants that are dedicated gluten free. Here are some better options for those with celiac disease:

Jenni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Jenni’s uses gluten-free ingredients and thoroughly cleans equipment to avoid cross-contamination. Their Ohio locations have comfortable gluten-free settings.

Burntwood Tavern

Burntwood Tavern in Ohio trains staff on gluten-free procedures and avoids cross-contamination. They have gluten-free menus, fryers and prep areas.

Barroco Grill

This Columbus, Ohio restaurant has a separate gluten-free area and menu. They prepare gluten-free dishes separately to prevent contact.

Mitchell’s Ocean Club

Mitchell’s Ohio location takes steps to avoid cross-contamination by having specific gluten-free cooking areas. They offer gluten-free menus, pizza and pasta.

Bakersfield Short North

Bakersfield manages gluten carefully by labeling gluten-free items and using separate fryers. Their staff has gluten-free training.


Lindey’s gluten-free menu has symbols to identify dishes and any changes needed to avoid gluten. They’re careful to prevent cross-contamination.

Gluten-Free Chains Like California Pizza Kitchen

National chains like California Pizza Kitchen (CPK) also make it easier to eat gluten-free in different cities. All CPK locations have gluten-free pizza, pasta and desserts using separate prep and cooking areas. Staff is knowledgeable about safe options.

Being Cautious About Cross-Contamination

Those with celiac disease have to be very cautious when eating out because even small amounts of cross-contact can trigger symptoms and damage. If you must eat at a restaurant with gluten-containing items like Chuy’s, ask detailed questions, inspect your meal and send items back if concerned. Going to dedicated gluten-free establishments provides much more peace of mind. Carefully choosing restaurants based on their knowledge and safety procedures makes a big difference in avoiding illness.


While Chuy’s offers some gluten-free menu options and makes efforts to accommodate gluten-free guests, there are still risks of cross-contamination. Someone who is highly sensitive or has celiac disease may want to avoid eating here or take thorough precautions if they choose to. For those simply avoiding gluten, the menu choices and procedures may be reasonable enough depending on your level of sensitivity. However, people with celiac should choose restaurants that are dedicated gluten-free or chains with extensive gluten-free training and preparation areas. Carefully researching restaurant offerings, ingredients and safety procedures is key to safely dining out gluten-free.

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