Trip to Phoenix, Arizona

Trip to Phoenix, Arizona

My husband, son and I took a quick trip to Phoenix, Arizona this past weekend.  We lived in the Tempe area about five years ago but have been exploring central Phoenix.  This trip was an unexpected trip so we ended up not being as prepared.  We had to eat out for all our meals.  Eating out is so much fun as long as the restaurants have gluten free options.  This post includes some eating out tips for dietary restrictions.

Phoenix is a good place to visit since it's only about two hours from where we live in Flagstaff.  It's warmer of course, which is nice during most months.  Plus it's a big city with so many different people and places to go.  There are always new restaurants and coffee shops popping up too.  I'm a sucker for a coffee shop, that's for sure.

The abundance of places and things to do really speaks to me.  Having grown up in a suburb of Denver, I love the city life and the go-go-go.  The food and coffee options are endless in a bigger city.  Living in a smaller town, it's nice to know people when we go to restaurants, stores and coffee shops but the variety is a bit non-existent.

The drive down was pretty as always.  There is something so serene and peaceful about the unoccupied desert.  The entry into the Phoenix area can be a little crazy though.  So getting settled was the first order of business.  We were starting and our room wasn't ready yet so food was the next order of business.  We decided on the Phoenix Public Market Cafe for lunch.  It was a place we hadn't been since we lived in the area and had only had coffee at the cafe.

The gluten free options were not great as it turned out but I found something to eat.  I had rice and beans with a side of steamed broccoli.  Rice and beans are not something I usually eat but the options were minimal.  It made me feel a little bloated and full the rest of the day, which is no fun.  My husband had a cuban sandwich (he doesn't have to eat gluten free) but the sandwich its self was not seasoned properly so he wasn't impressed.  It turns out the meal didn't agree with my husband and he was sick for half the afternoon.  I think we will stick to coffee if we return to the Phoenix Public Market Cafe.

Spending time by the pool was nice despite our stomach issues.  The hotel we stayed at, The Clarendon, is one we frequent.  There is no pet fee, a happy hour with complementary wine, an good restaurant attached to the hotel, breakfast vouchers and the pool and roof top deck are pretty nice.  There amenities had changed a bit between the last time we stayed and this time but it was still a decent stay.  Spending the afternoon by the pool and hanging out in the warm weather was nice and relaxing.

In the evening we decided to find something for dinner after our stomachs settled but there wasn't much that sounded good.  We we had our eye on Ocotillo but we both weren't feeling like spending a bunch of time in a restaurant after not feeling great all afternoon.

We settled on Zöe's, which was a terrible idea.  The idea of a healthy vegetable based meal was what drew me to the place.  The mediterranean chicken with a side of grilled vegetables and cauliflower rice sounded really good.  Alas there were many things wrong with this place.  First thing, was the receipt did not say cauliflower rice as a side.  So I asked the gal twice to make sure I would get that instead of regular rice.  Second, it took forever to get the food for our to-go order.  Third, once we were back at the hotel, there was regular rice not cauliflower and the quality of the food was like eating at McDonalds.  Plus, I got sick from the meal, probably cross contamination.  I wouldn't recommend Zöe's to anyone, regardless of dietary restirctions.

Finding restaurants that I can safely eat at can be difficult.  I have to be really careful due to my celiac disease and severe gluten reactions.  In Flagstaff, there are only about three or four places I can eat at with confidence that I won't get sick.  The playing field opens up in a big city of course, however caution isn't thrown to the wind.  There are a few things I have learned, the hard way, in order to keep myself safe when eating out.

Eating Out Tips for Dietary Restrictions:

  1. Ask questions: don't be afraid to ask questions about how food is prepared, what ingredients are in sauces, etc.
  2. Make sure the server/chef understand how serious the dietary issue is.  I have had many times when I say I have a gluten intolerance or gluten allergy and the server doesn't have a clue what it means.  If there is a question about what gluten is, the server definitely does not know what foods have gluten in them.
  3. When in doubt, get up and leave or stick to a drink and eat at home or grab a snack that you know you can eat.

These tips seem like common sense but it can be hard to be confident in asking or making sure others understand the full circumstances of your dietary needs.

So, the next day of our mini trip, we ate at the hotel restaurant.  It is one I know I can eat at without having contamination worries.   Not only did I get a meal that had "GF" next to it (as I usually always do at any restaurant), I  asked to make sure the meal was gluten free.  I have gotten to the point where I can ask what the ingredients are and instantly know if I will get sick.  It can be a pain to travel with dietary issues but sticking to your guns on what your order and expect from the restaurant staff can really help.

Despite my negative experience with food on this trip, Phoenix, Arizona is a nice place to visit.  The sunsets in the desert are usually beautiful and there is a certain calmness to it.  It's a lot like being on the beach for sunset.  The mountains in the middle of the city make it super unique and interesting.  It's also a great place for hiking, trail running and desert observing.