Living the gluten-free good life in D.C.

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Tallula in Arlington Welcomes Wheat-Free Me

March 4th, 2008 by Brooke

To know Adrian and I is to know Tallula and EatBar, a side-by-side pair of restaurants in Arlington, a short walk from the Clarendon metro. As sad as we were to see the dive-bar Whitey’s go a few years back when we lived a block away, its replacement, Tallula, has earned its own special place in our weekend agendas. These days, it’s not even remotely near our neighborhood, but we still consider it our neighborhood bar. Funny, because it’s owned by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group who also own: Evening Star Café, Vermilion, Buzz Bakery,and Rustico, to name a few.

We go there regularly for birthdays, parents-in-town, and even the occasional random Wednesday night (before karaoke at the Royal Lee). The wine list is superb and the pours are generous – the price tag can be steep but the setting is intimate, you can actually hear each other. We definitely don’t know all the bartenders by name but we do know the chef – Nathan Anda. Over the years, he’s become our friend. You may have seen him on the line behind the counter, in his red glasses? He’s committed to local foods, dries and cures some mean meat and has a tolerance for the requisite glutie Q and A on a dish-by-dish basis. He’s even accommodating when I order his famed burgers with no bun. Baby burgers, that is. Small, juicy bites of heaven topped with caramelized onions and truffle butter.

Most recently, though, I was delighted, when I mentioned to our server that I was gluten-free and she extracted a laminated food allergy card from her billfold. Ok, to be clear: the card did not contain gluten information, but it at least had a color-coded section for wheat allergies. Together, we reviewed the dishes and I was able to make a reasonably fear-free selection – spicy ancho ribs over cheddar grits. That is not to say I didn’t whine when I set my eyes on Adrian’s gruyere muffin but we gluties can’t win them all.

While we’re on the subject of this restaurant group, I should mention I recently tried brunch at Vermillion and, despite their A++ decor, my server was largely clueless about wheat allergies and had no food allergen card to speak of.

But, rejoice, because both Mandy and Brandi have delighted in the gluten-free chickpea crust pizza at Rustico.

Update by Mandy–
Check out their Sunday night movie series! There’s no extra charge for the movie showing and they also come around to pass out free truffle butter popcorn!  The movies start promptly at 8:00 pm, but come early to get the best seat!

March 16: Thelma and Louise (1991)

March 23: Pretty in Pink (1985)

March 30: Wedding Date (2005)

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