Ok -- here it is, as promised. This is the start of my free online restaurant guide. It is only a guide. You must -- I repeat, must -- check these places on your own. The info here will arm with you with valuable knowledge but every restaurant has its own practices and each store within a chain is managed differently. So, be careful.
I will continue updating this as I learn more. Let me tell you what I've found. I've determined a lot of places will tell you that they have GFCF food, but they don't tell you that it's prepared along with non-GFCF food, so there is a cross-contact issue. Be careful of that -- always ask!
By the way, what we're really concerned about here is called "cross-contact," not cross contamination. But, you'll notice that I slip back and forth on that phrasing. Forgive me.
Also, many restaurants are heading toward having Gluten Free Menus, but not GFCF menus. It's not the same, of course.
Below is my list. Next to each is a grade, just like in school, A-F. I've provided web links and allergen details with my explanation next to each so you understand.
Applebee's - F
Allergen info online: No
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: No, according to a corporate official. This -- from them: "Thank you for your recent request for a list of gluten, dairy, and soy free menu items available at Applebee's. Due to the frequency in which we change our menus, as well as the small risk of cross-contamination, we can not provide the list you requested."
Arby's - D
Allergen info online: yes, www.arbys.com/nutrition/calculator.php?mid=1&type=allergens
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: NO -- while the homestyle fries and potato cakes are listed as gluten/dairy free, make sure to read the fine print. All the fried foods are cooked together -- with the foods having gluten and casein. From the website: "When checking food allergens, it is important to know all of our fried products may be cooked using shared frying oil."
Burger King - B
Allergen info online: yes - go to www.bk.com and type "allergens" in the search box.
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Yes. French fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer. Plain burger and grilled chicken also cooked on a broiler. Mott's applesauce. I checked our local BK and indeed they used a dedicated fryer. More info: www.bk.com/Nutrition/PDFs/ingredients.pdf
Chick Fil A - B
Allergen info online: yes, go to www.chick-fil-a.com/default.aspx#nutrition and you'll see links to both "allergens" and "gluten." NOTE - CHICK FIL A USES PEANUT OIL. They have gluten-free waffle fries, which others have told me are fried alone. I HAVE NOT confirmed this yet with the company. I'm waiting for their response to my question.
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: ??
Chili's - B-minus
Allergen info online: yes, www.chilis.com/menu/default.asp?Unit_ID=001%2E005%2E1127&tierID=39&menuType=Dine+In&menu=1
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Yes, BUT they warn people with serious food issues to avoid ALL fried foods because of cross contamination. And, they do not guarantee that they can make their food entirely free of the item that you're intolerant/allergic too, even if it's on the special menu list. So, be warned.
Damon's Grill - D
Allergen info online: yes, http://www.damons.com/interactivemenu.cfm
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Yes -- I contacted Damon's as we wanted to try them on an upcoming trip. The fries are gluten-free but cooked in a common fryer with other foods that have gluten. So, you may want to avoid those. But, the company says the following foods should have no cross-contact issues: steak, salmon, grilled chicken, ribs, baked potato, vegetables, salad and applesauce.
Denny's - D
Allergen info online: yes, www.dennys.com/en/cms/Nutrition%2FAllergens/23.html
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: NO -- I spoke with a corporate nutrition manager who said although the stores are supposed to cook fries separate, for example, they most times are not. Burgers and chicken cooked on the same grill as other stuff. So, there are serious concerns here.
Eat N Park (PA, OH, WV) - A
Allergen info online: yes, it has a celiac menu www.eatnpark.com/menuList.asp?CategoryID=4
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: yes and if you want fries, try asking for baked fries since the oil shares foods, a district manager says.
Houlihan's - D
Allergen info online: No
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: They say to ask when you order about having special items made. Do so at your own risk though.
Kings Family Restaurants - D
Allergen info online: no
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: A district manager by telephone says they can if you work through local store managers. I've not tested this yet at our local Kings.
Longhorn Steakhouse - A-minus
Allergen info online: yes, www.longhornsteakhouse.com/menu/pdf/glutenFree.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Yes, but cooking is not in a gluten-free kitchen. No fries on gluten-free menu. Developing a new menu soon.
Mitchell's Fish Market - A
Allergen info online: yes, a gluten-free menu www.mitchellsfishmarket.com/cmr/files/content/MFM1-Gluten1007.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: yes - mostly for adults.
Olive Garden - F
Allergen info online: No
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: No. From them, "We appreciate your desire to know which menu items may fit with the allergen constraints of your diet. At this time, our nutritional database does not include the type of detailed information you need."
Outback Steakhouse - A-minus
Allergen info online: yes, a gluten-free menu www.outback.com/foodandmenus/pdf/glutenfree.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross-contamination: yes (but no fries for children)
PF Changs China Bistro - A-minus
Allergen info online: yes www.pfchangs.com/cuisine/menu/GlutenIntolerantMenu.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross-contamination: yes, mostly for adults.
Red Robin - A
Allergen info online: no, but can be emailed by request.
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Yes, but not guaranteed. I'm hearing online that every store does it differently. At mine, they fry the fries in one fryer, breaded items in another and fish in a third. They also have a food-allergy system so orders with restrictions are flagged and people cooking know about it. With some allergies, they'll even put on special gloves while cooking that food. Some stores have a gluten-free menu sheet available.
Sonic America's Drive-In - F
Allergen info online: No.
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: No. I called. They checked. Basically, the pickles are OK.
Steak N Shake - D
Allergen info online: yes, www.steaknshake.com/nutritional_info/IngredientsandAllergens.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: Likely not -- they're good about listing all the foods and the steakburger and fries are free and clear. However, they openly tell us cross contamination is a problem. "Please be advised that many menu items may be made with equipment also used to make menu items containing milk, peanuts, wheat, eggs, tree nuts, soy and/or fish."
Wendy's - D
Allergen info online: yes, www.wendys.com/food/pdf/us/nutrition.pdf
Gluten-casein free foods without cross contamination: NO -- check the nutrition menu carefully. Even though some things don't have gluten, they are cross-contaminated, including french fries. Chili seems OK though.