Self Intolerant: 7 Gluten-Friendly Jax Restaurants From a Former Gluten Glutton

gluten-friendly jax restaurantsAs we grow older, there are some things we know we can expect. Wrinkles, gray hairs, and being, as Toby put it best, “ain’t as good as I once was.”

However, one thing I never accounted for was developing food intolerances at 35. Turns out you may have actually been intolerant and/or allergic to something your entire life, but in your mid-30s, your body can one day decide to stop fighting the “intruder” altogether. Then it feels like you were hit with a ton of bricks!

READ: The Ultimate Guide to Dining Out With Food Allergies in Jacksonville

After multiple doctor visits, tests, and the oh-too-familiar “your bloodwork is beautiful,” my doctor recommended our last resort — an anti-inflammatory elimination diet to see if the food I eat was causing the problems. Picky eater to the max, I knew all along that that would probably be helpful, but it was the one thing I never wanted to try.

Three months of food experimentation later, it turned out I am highly intolerant to gluten and soy. While not Celiac, my symptoms were just as severe after being reintroduced to any form of the protein. The irony of this whole ordeal is that my maiden name is Wheat, thus making me… gluten and self intolerant. The humor of that is not lost on me…

READ: No More Loafing Around: Tips for Living a (Sustainable!) Gluten-Free Lifestyle

A lifestyle change became a new reality, and I began my quest to find the best gluten-free foods in Jacksonville. Here are my top 7 gluten-friendly Jax restaurants for lunch and dinner.


I’ve found that Mexican food in general is typically a safe place to start your gluten-free journey due to the emphasis on corn vs. flour products. Thank goodness for my go to — TacoLu! While they do not have a specific gluten-free menu, a vast majority of their tacos can be made on their yummy corn tortillas. They will also bring you your own separate salsa and a dish to share guac or queso, along with your own personal bowl of gluten-free chips. My favorite things to order here are a Spicy Bird and Flyin’ Hawaiian on corn tortillas.

gluten-friendly restaurants
gluten-friendly restaurants

Cooper’s Hawk

Date night, anyone? Every special occasion, we head over to the Town Center for some ambiance and hearty eats. Cooper’s Hawk has a huge gluten-free menu to choose from, along with the fluffiest gluten-free bread I’ve ever come across at a restaurant. My favorite here is the gluten-free Braised Short Rib Risotto, with a glass (or flight) of red wine, of course.

gluten-friendly restaurants
gluten-friendly restaurants

Culhane’s Irish Pub

I’ve found on trips to other major cities like Seattle, New York City, or even areas in Alaska to be surprisingly abundant with gluten-friendly restaurants. Most commonly pubs and breweries of all places! We are lucky to have Culhane’s Irish Pub here locally at the Beaches. They have a gluten-free menu, with many of their items being entirely gluten-free or able to be gluten modified. Let me tell you this, their Chad’s Shrimp and Grits are the absolute best I’ve ever had! And the Craic Garlic Chips?! Don’t even get me started.

gluten-friendly restaurants

Prati Italia

Looking to have a buona cena? Prati Italia at the Town Center has its own gluten-free menu, including gluten-free garlic bread. Get the best of both worlds by ordering the crispy Chicken Parmesan, which has marinara and alfredo sauce. Buon appetite! 

North Beach Fish Camp

A Southern Girl through and through, in the beginning of my journey I was desperately missing the Southern staple: fried chicken. The moment I got wind of North Beach Fish Camp‘s dedicated gluten-free fryer, I high-tailed it over there. When I asked the server about a gluten-free menu, she had the chef come out and speak with me. I asked what my options would be, and his response was, “What do you want?” Thrilled to the moon to have so many options — fried shrimp, fried fish, fried green tomatoes — I always go back for the Pan-Fried Chicken with Grits, Collards, and Tasso Ham Gravy. So crispy, crunchy, and savory — something we often can’t find in the gluten-free community.

Vicious Biscuit

Following in that Southern draw, nothing says comfort food like a biscuit. A somewhat elusive food in the gluten-free world, we are fortunate enough to have Vicious Biscuit in Neptune Beach where they can dress up a gluten-free biscuit for breakfast, or you can just get one to go to hit the spot.

Jersey Mike’s

Feeling left out watching all your friends enjoy Pub Subs? Bring back your beach days and Jags tailgates with a gluten-free sub from Jersey Mike’s. They use Udi baguettes for your sandwich and have an entire cleaning process they undergo before they will make it. (Sorry to the people behind me in line!) For that reason, I try not to go during peak hours. There is currently not an option to order gluten-free bread online, so you will need to visit in person. But hey, at least you get to eat a tasty sandwich!

As you can see, whether you are gluten-free by chance or by choice, you won’t go hungry in Jacksonville. What are some of your favorite gluten-friendly Jax restaurants?

*As a reminder, these gluten-friendly Jax restaurants are based on someone who is gluten intolerant, NOT Celiac. Always do your own research and speak with a knowledgeable chef/server to be safe while dining out.*

Caitlyn Hawkins
Caitlyn is a happy-go-lucky wife and Mama who loves football, Icemen hockey, and fishing. A Jax local through and through, she has called the 904 'home' her entire life. But don't let that fool you! She and her little ginger family are avid world travelers. When they aren't on the go, this Osprey Alumni is helping folks sell and buy homes in our great town. She wanted to find a balance between being a working Mom in an ever-changing field and wanting to be present in her children’s everyday lives. This is how she came up with being what she calls a “stay at home(s) Mom”. She chronicles those experiences, along with various other home maintenance/design/repair tips learned along the way on her blog .


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