In the north of Spain, tapas are known as pinchos (or "pintxos") and are usually served atop a small piece of bread. As delicious as these appetizers may be, this tradition assuredly sounds like a Celiac's worst nightmare. Upon traveling to Logroño, La Rioja - the capital city of Spain's wine country - all I heard was talk of the famous pinchos on Calle Laurel.
This notorious street in Logroño is lined with colorful tapas bars, each serving traditional Spanish pinchos to the wine-fueled masses. Instead of getting excited about this supposed foodie heaven, I felt an impending sense of doom. How would I survive in this perilous haven of bread?
But then I saw this little blue sign...
"Sin Gluten" means "gluten free" in Spanish. Hallelujah!
Much to my surprise, many of Calle Laurel's eateries plaster these cheery cerulean stickers across their windows and outdoor menus. Each bar that displays it usually has a handful of gluten-free pinchos available to order. I flitted from bar to bar in awe, hardly containing my excitement and disbelief (...and hunger).
With the help of my travel buddy Lauren's restaurant research and these God-sent "sin gluten" stickers, I commenced my weekend of gluten-free pinchos crawling on Calle Laurel. Here's what we found on our tapas treasure hunt:
What I Ordered: A tosta with goat cheese + peach marmalade + pine nuts on gluten-free bread, and another couple of GF tostas with goat cheese + tomato jam + almonds
The Verdict: So delicious I had to ask, "Are you sure this is gluten-free?!"
Although it tasted too good to be true, this Celiac-friendly tosta was the best pincho I had all weekend. (Needless to say, we came back here every single day.)
La Taberna del Laurel
What I Ordered: A steaming dish of patatas bravas
The Verdict: Fried and marinated to perfection, these crispy potatoes drizzled with "spicy" tomato sauce and aioli did not disappoint. Of the many servings of patatas bravas I've enjoyed this past year, this batch inched its way up to the top of my list.
What I Ordered: A tosta with goat cheese, jamón and caramelized onions on gluten-free bread
The Verdict: The perfect combination of salty, savory and sweet. I seriously regret not taking photos of this delectable creation. (But hindsight is 20/20, especially if you were starving.)
What I Ordered: A bocatita (mini-sandwich) with jamón and Galician Tetilla cheese on gluten-free bread
The Verdict: The gluten-free bread had a nice consistency and an authentic flavor. My taste buds delighted in the simple combination of salty cured ham and rich, creamy cheese. I wish I had gone to Pata Negra more than just once!
On Travesía del Laurel:
Blanco y Negro
What I Ordered: A bocatita (mini-sandwich) with jamón and a roasted green pepper on gluten-free bread
The Verdict: The gluten-free bread was too chewy for my taste, and the tapa itself was a bit plain. Although, I could have just been bitter that the bartender told me I couldn't order a gluten-free version of their signature goat cheese, jamón and raspberry jam pincho. Bummer.
On Calle Portales:
La Tortilla del Albergue
What I Ordered: A classic slice of tortilla de patatas
The Verdict: I kid you not, this was one of the best tortillas I've had in my life. (For now I'm going to put it in the Top Five, but that's subject to change!) Comprised of just eggs, potatoes and olive oil, this simple dish is the epitome of comfort food. This pincho de tortilla had just the right consistency and flavor.
Because some of the bars get so crowded, many eateries have created "take out" windows for their pinchos. I obviously couldn't pass up a late night pincho de tortilla to-go!
Tips for Gluten-Free Pincho Hopping on Calle Laurel:
- If you're ordering something that doesn't specifically come with gluten-free bread, then ask for your dish "sin pan" (without bread). This is what I always had to do when ordering a slice of tortilla.
- If you're nervous because your Spanish is rusty, then print out a gluten-free restaurant card like this one to show to your waiters. However, most servers are in a rush, so if you just ask for a tapa "Sin Gluten" or say "Soy Celiaca", the restaurant will know how to take care of you.
- Follow the little blue "Sin Gluten" signs. They won't disappoint!
Not gluten-free but still want to experience all that Calle Laurel has to offer? Check out Lauren's post on Pincho Hopping in Logroño!
Do you have any food allergies?
How do you survive them while traveling?
How do you survive them while traveling?