How to Live GF in the City of Trees
By Lettie Stratton, photography by Pete Grady
We’ve all had one—a gluten free disaster. Or if you haven’t, you know someone who has. You’ve been thinking about pizza all day. You need it. You order and finally it arrives, but the crust is soggy, falling apart, and tastes weirdly sweet, not to mention the pizza is about half the size of a normal one. Ugh! You’ve had a gluten free disaster, but fear not—Boise provides plenty of options for delicious gluten free goodies that will leave their more glutinous counterparts crying in the dust.
Gluten is found in a lot of our favorite treats—bread, pasta, baked goods, and, alas—even beer. It’s what gives pastries that light, flakey texture we all love. A life without these things seems unfortunate, but being gluten free doesn’t mean giving up your favorite foods. As gluten free diets become more popular, whether out of necessity or choice, better gluten free options are popping up in new places all the time, and Boise is no exception.
Jake’s Gluten Free Market
12570 W. Fairview Avenue
Jake’s Gluten Free Market is the only totally gluten-free store in the Treasure Valley. They’ve been open for ten years and can cater to almost any dietary need, including nut just gluten free but also paleo, dairy-free, yeast-free, soy-free, multiple allergy, and more. “Everything on our bakery rack is guaranteed to make you say ‘Wow,’” says Owner Clint Pedersen. “The rack is five feet wide and six feet tall—200 feet of retail space—and it’s half our sales.”
Jake’s ships products all over the country—New York, Washington DC, Tennessee, Chicago, and even Hawaii—and it’s easy to see why. “We make the transition to being gluten free super easy and super tasty,” Pedersen remarks.
Pederson explained that although better gluten free options have emerged in recent years, Jake’s—as a dedicated gluten free facility—is still outnumbered a million to one. “There’s only one of us,” Pedersen said, “and this is a pandemic. Way more people have an allergy than think they do. There’s not a lot of support from the medical community and not a lot of education. In fact, there’s a lot of misinformation.”
That’s why Jake’s offers not only delicious allergen-free foods, but also guidance and advice for customers with questions or concerns. “I have two kinds of customers,” Pedersen elaborates, “those who are really knowledgeable and those who are brand new. They both need educated and experienced staff, and fortunately our bakers are geniuses.”
Go into Jake’s to try their pie, pasta, bread mix, muffins, cookies, and more. Like Pedersen says, be prepared to say “wow.”
888 W. Fort Street
If you’re looking for delicious, house-made gluten free bread, look no further than the bakery at the Boise Co-op. Three years ago, the bakery menu had only two gluten free items on it. Now, they have gluten free bread and bagels, mixes for breads, cakes, pizzas, and much more.
“There’s more of a demand for gluten free items as people become more conscious,” says Angie Snow. “You don’t have to be a celiac to be gluten free. Some people find that gluten makes them tired or gives them an upset stomach, so it just depends how gluten affects you.”
Snow says the Co-op’s gluten free poppy seed bagel and their wheat-free pizza base are among the most popular menu items. Head down and have a taste, and while you’re at it, make sure to try a deli sandwich on that house-made gluten free bread. You won’t regret it.
807 W. Idaho Street
In this writer’s experience, gluten free bread isn’t too hard to come by when eating out, but pasta is another story. Lucky for Boise diners, Alavita is here to help. Eighty percent of their menu can be prepared gluten free, and that includes eight different pasta dishes.
Peter Dietrich says the restaurant has boasted their extensive gluten free menu since they opened. “It’s important to keep all our customers happy,” he remarks. Dietrich said he has seen demand for gluten free pastas and other dishes increase over the past several years. He recommends the Cavatelli—Porterhouse spicy Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, light tomato sauce, and parmesan—or the Pappardelle—northwest four-meat Bolognese, mascarpone, and chives.
Alavita’s big brother restaurant, Fork, boasts a pretty impressive gluten free menu as well, with dishes like Hagerman Blackened Catfish Tacos and the Northwest Turkey Burger. Good food must run in the family. We can only cross our fingers and hope that Alavita’s gluten free pasta will one day join their wheat-based pasta in being hand-made fresh daily from local flour and eggs.
2594 N. Bogus Basin Road
I had a hard time finding a pizza place in Boise that offers a gluten free base not purchased from Sysco—enter Lulu’s. Lulu’s gluten free crust comes from Idaho’s Cloverstone Bakery, a dedicated gluten free business. If you’re ever in Wood River Valley, look them up. Wise Guy pizza also uses their crust, and after trying it I understand why.Soggy it is not—at least not the way Lulu’s bakes it. Weirdly sweet it is not, and most importantly, fall apart it does not. My pizza-ordering experience at Lulu’s was not a gluten free disaster but instead a triumph. Be sure to try their signature pie, “The Lulu.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the great gluten free food in Boise. For example, Boise Fry has great gluten free burger buns, Lucky 13’s gluten free pizza base is also to die for, and you can order four-layer gluten free cakes and cupcakes from Amaru Confections. PizzalChik has a signature gluten free dough for their pizza crust, and the list goes on and on. The point is that good gluten free food is available all around Boise, you just have to know where to look.