Gluten Free Restaurants: Columbus, Ohio

Growing up, there were only two things that I knew that had to do with Ohio: the "Cleveland rocks! Ohio hio hioooo" ending from the Drew Carey Show theme song and "Ohio Is For Lovers," a bizarre but lovable-when-it-feels-familiar song we used to sing in the car driving around Western Massachusetts freshman year of college. Neither of those made me extremely excited to go to Ohio.

A little Columbus culture at the  Franklin Park Conservatory

A little Columbus culture at the Franklin Park Conservatory


I was pleasantly surprised then by the different food and coffee I was able to find on my adventures in the Columbus area. Delicious Italian food, espresso from a place called "Coffee Craze N Rayz" that also specialized in tanning, and of course, Max & Erma's.


This chain restaurant actually has a whole bunch of locations, from Ohio to Virginia to South Dakota and Missouri, so you have plenty of places to get your lunch or dinner or - my favorite - **happy hour** on. I don't know if I've mentioned it before, but we don't have happy hour drink specials at home, so every time I'm in a state with happy hour food and drinks I am PSYCHED. Max & Erma's is a kitschy chain, with old-fashioned "bathtubs" full of ice cream and toppings to make your own sundaes, and daily deals with extras like fresh cookies.

Did you seriously not trust me?

Did you seriously not trust me?

Sorry! Didn't order mine gluten free.

Sorry! Didn't order mine gluten free.


My personal favorite at Max & Erma's is pretty unexpected though - their 3rd Street Salad. This guy has some salad classics - iceberg, tomatoes, red onions - along with some Cobb elements - grilled chicken, bacon and blue cheese and what they call a "Sweet and Tangy dressing." Not sure how else to describe this dressing. It's definitely the above, but is so much more exciting than I think the description alone can manage. This is a super-flavorful salad that will feel like a sweet and savory treat but will totally fill you up and help you walk away feeling like you ate something that is actually good for you. It also comes with almonds, but since I have enough food allergy issues I cut them out.


Max & Erma's has a "Gluten Sensitive" menu, which notes you can order the 3rd Street salad without the croutons and breadsticks for a gluten free option. Although I haven't tried their gluten free buns, I can vouch for the flavor in their burgers, and since they don't have a separate fryer for gluten-free sides, they have a pretty good list of gluten-free sides you can opt in for. I enjoyed my M&E's so much after first trying it in Chillicothe that I had to get it at the Columbus airport again before flying out! Nothing like a healthy start before a lot of flying.

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Just thinking of that salad is making me hungry! And I just had lunch. When has the though of a salad ever made you hungry? Jeez.


As always, I don't pretend I have Celiac at any restaurant, so if you've had a particularly pleasant or disappointing gluten-free experience at a Max & Erma's please fill me in! Any other favorites in Ohio?