To continue the theme of dining outdoors, I want to share with you a recent dinner I had during a trip to Santa Monica. I find when I go to restaurants that don’t have established gluten-free menus that I usually experience one of two extremes. I show my handy Triumph dining card to the waiter and/or manager when I arrive. On one hand there are the waiters that push the card aside and say, oh our chef is familiar with “gluten-free.” I try to get them to look at the card anyway (after all, it was like learning a second language for me, so I’m not entirely trusting that they fully understand). When they return asking me if potatoes or rice are “safe” I eagerly hand them the card again. The other extreme comes from the restaurants that approach the allergy card with the trembling fear. While I appreciate the concern, the offer of plain lettuce as the only “safe” menu item is not terribly appetizing either.
El Cholo, a fun Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica, initially took the latter approach, offering me a simple salad and no main course. However, after a second conversation with the manager, we were able to put together a tasty if not flavor-packed dinner.
I was told to avoid the chips, salsa and guacamole the rest of our group enjoyed, but I definitely didn’t leave hungry. I ordered the shrimp fajitas served with mixed vegetables and beans.
I saw mushrooms and corn on the menu in various main dishes, so I asked if it would be possible to get a side of each. They brought them together as one side. I can’t say that the flavors were incredibly harmonious but I appreciated the effort.
I also asked for a side of guacamole. They weren’t comfortable with all of the guacamole ingredients and instead brought fresh sliced avocado – which to me was even better.
I did enjoy my dinner, and I have full confidence that with a couple more visits from patrons like me they will be able to offer even more gluten-free options. And even if the food doesn’t strike your fancy, the outdoor dining in Santa Monica can’t be beat.
El Cholo Address: 1025 Wilshire Blvd Santa Monica, CA 90401 Phone: (310) 899-1106