Idioma / Language: Spanish

Washington DC: high risk of cross-contamination among movie landmarks

Less than a month after returning from Las Vegas, I was back in the United States again. This time for a meeting with the Marketing team of all the companies in the group. Although the trip to Las Vegas was a bit of a tummy ache, I must admit that I was looking forward to the opportunity to return to this great country. This time to discover gluten-free restaurants in Washington DC.

As you’ll see, I’m still on pre-covid trips (less left to catch!). At that time, in Barcelona there were some strikes and demonstrations. For this reason I decided to get to the airport 4h earlier… I preferred to wait there than miss the flight. Again, I was flying with United Airlines.

The flight was not going to go much better than the previous time I flew to the United States. The first snack they handed out was with gluten and I couldn’t eat it, and when it came time for lunch, I was served a gluten-free menu which, again, was fish. After happened during the flight to Las Vegas, before opening the menu I asked the flight attendant to check. She told me inform when booking next time… they brought me an Indian menu in substitution of the fish GFML….

Something is wrong! In theory the travel agency that books our flights for business travel always informs me of my allergies. But when it comes to flying, this information has not reached those who prepare the catering… For now, it has already happened to me with Fly Emirates, United Airlines and with Evelop there were also problems.

Luckily, and thanks to the “just in case shopping”, the rest of the flight was great. Already at the Washington DC airport, it took me 3h from the time I got off the plane to the hotel. Passport control was really slow and the traffic at that time was no better.

To top it off, at the time of check-in at the AC Hotel by Marriott National Harbor, the company credit card was not working. Could it get any worse?

The rest of my colleagues didn’t arrive until the next afternoon, so I had to spend every dollar of cash I had on me to pay for the first night.

When I had all the important stuff taken care of, I asked the front desk if they could recommend a gluten-free restaurant near the hotel. It was in the National Harbor area and there were lots of restaurants. It reminded me a bit of the Waterfront area of Cape Town, South Africa.

The hotel receptionist recommended Bond45 Restaurant at 149 Waterfront St 1138, Oxon Hill. It was early for dinner so I decided to go for a walk along the waterfront to make time. I had been sitting for a long time and felt like stretching my legs. It was a nice area with army memorials and nice views of the city.

When I arrived at the restaurant that the receptionist recommended to me, I was seated directly. When I asked about the gluten-free dishes, they told me that I could only eat the salads or the fish. Since I am allergic to fish and didn’t feel like eating salad, I left the restaurant to find another one with the gluten-free apps I have on my phone.

According to the apps there were several options available near me. I chose Fiorella 152 National Plaza, Oxon Hill because I really wanted to eat gluten-free pasta. Even though the restaurant was listed on the gluten-free apps, before I sat down, I asked them if it was possible to eat gluten-free. They told me they were out of gluten-free pasta… great! I had to keep looking.

Click on the image to access the form

Right next to the Fiorella, there was another restaurant called Redstone 155 National Plaza, Oxon Hill. I didn’t have so many alternatives left. I explained well my celiac condition to the waitress and emphasized a bit by showing her the adrenaline shot I carry for fish. She understood everything perfectly and told me I could have the pork ribs with fries. Wonderful! Although I would have preferred the Fiorella’s gluten-free pasta, I was really looking forward to eating that too.

Although I tried to stay awake until 10 p.m. (Washington DC time) in order to adjust better, the jet lag didn’t allow me to sleep as much as I wanted.

I took the opportunity to do some work and had some cookies form the “just in case shopping” for breakfast in the room. The colleagues from the Marketing team of the other companies in the Group did not arrive until late in the afternoon and I planned to do some sightseeing. I wanted to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and I needed to find a gluten-free restaurant nearby!

I arrived by cab at the Washington Monument (the obelisk) mid-morning. The day was a bit overcast and it was starting to sprinkle. I always carry a folding umbrella, so I wasn’t too worried.

From there, I headed to the Lincoln Memorial. I am always amazed at the size of the parks in the US cities I have visited. I recommend you go with comfortable shoes because the walks are assured.

Between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial you will find the World War II Memorial, a monument to the soldiers of World War II. I really liked the symmetry of this place.

When I arrived at the Lincoln Memorial, the rain was quite heavy and my feet were starting to get wet. It was a bit chilly. Luckyly it is an indoor site and there were not many people. I took advantage of the shelter to take a few pictures and wait for the rain to stop….

It was getting late and it wasn’t stopping raining. I didn’t have any reservation but I had found a restaurant called “b DC Penn Quarter” at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, very close to the Capitol.  It took me about 25 minutes to walk there, enough time to get there soaking wet. My pants were soaked to the knee. But it was worth it to get there.

It had not been easy at all to find a real gluten-free restaurant in Washington. The 100% of the restaurants I had found online and on gluten-free apps indicated that they were “Coeliac friendly”, but reading the reviews it wasn’t clear to me that they were truly gluten-free… in my experience, restaurants in the United States are not good at cross-contamination control.

When I spoke to the waiter at the “Plan B” restaurant, he told me that they had a separate kitchen for gluten-free cooking – you can’t imagine how happy I was to hear that! The peace of mind this brings is priceless.

As there were several gluten-free options, the best thing to do in these cases is to take advice. When I asked the waiter if he would recommend the wings or the hamburgers, he told me that the restaurant was known for its burgers. That’s all there was to it, a gluten-free burger!

I ordered the Breakfast Burger and was blown away – the fries were delicious, the sauce was delicious, and the meat was impressively tender! It was by far the best meal of the trip!

I finished eating later than I had planned and decided to leave the Capitol visit for another day.

I grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel. My colleagues would be arriving in 2 or 3 hours but I wanted to take the opportunity to get some work done. I also wanted to take a nice hot shower and put on some dry clothes.

Around 6 pm I met up with the whole team. There were 15 of us. With the exception of one girl from Belgium and another from the UK, the rest came from different parts of the United States.

We had a dinner reservation at The Walrus Oyster & Ale House restaurant at 152 Waterfront St, Oxon Hill, next to the hotel.

I talked to the waitress about gluten-free options and was not very reassured…the safest option seemed to be roasted half chicken. I stressed to the waitress how important it was that there was nothing with flour. She told me not to worry…and I had to! It turns out that they put a little bit of flour on the potatoes to make them crispier…

As you can imagine… I had a bad night…

You can see the pictures of the trip here.

 

BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN ENGLISH:

P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!

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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!