Being gluten-free used to mean missing out on most foods. You couldn't go with your friends to eat pizza or Italian food, and when you said "gluten-free" people just stared at you like you were from Mars. Today, celiac disease has gotten more attention, and people with gluten sensitivities have more options. You can have a burger, pizza and even dessert in Little Rock and still be gluten-free.
If you are extremely sensitive to gluten, you should call the restaurant before you visit to see how strict their control is. Some of them prepare traditional, gluten-filled foods in the same area they are preparing the gluten-free foods. It's always best to ask.
Izzy's has been catering to the gluten-free crowd since before it was cool. They have a separate gluten-free menu and equipment dedicated to diners who have problems with gluten. Be sure to tell your server if you are gluten-free. Their tamales are legendary in Little Rock, and they're gluten free. They have many vegetarian items too, including tamales. Izzy's is located on 5601 Ranch Drive, near Cantrell, 501-868-4311.
Dempsey is the place to go for baked goods if you're gluten-free or have food allergies. They are 100% soy and nut free except coconut and have a wide selection of items including bread, cookies, pizza crusts, pies, and cupcakes. They do custom cakes for birthday parties, weddings or whatever else you want too. In the mood for something else? Drop in between 11am-2pm to try their sandwiches. Located at 323 S Cross Street. Suite B, 501-375-2257.
Ya-Ya's Euro Bistro
Ya-Ya's menu is gluten-free friendly. They have a large selection of gluten-free items marked. Most of their items are meat-based dishes, and they do have gluten-free pasta and pizza dough. They can answer reasonable questions about the gluten content of their menu. Located at 17711 Chenal Parkway in the The Promenade at Chenal, 501-821-1144.
Bonefish has an impressive list of gluten-free items from seafood to steaks, side options and even desserts. Their servers are knowledgeable and able to answer questions about gluten and other allergies. They are located at 11525 Cantrell Rd in the Pleasant Ridge Town Center, 501-228-0356.
Big Orange uses Dempsey's buns to make almost their entire menu gluten-free. Big Orange has some of the best burgers in the city, and it's only fair that gluten-sensitive people get to enjoy them. Their burgers are kind of pricey, but it's worth it. Big Orange is located at 17809 Chenal Pkwy in the Promenade at Chenal.
Rosalia's Family Bakery has traditional baked goods, but they occasionally have things like gluten-free cupcakes, breads and other items. Call ahead to make sure they have something for you (or you can place an order). Rosalia's is located at 2701 Kavanaugh Blvd, 501-319-7035.
Bravo! is an Italian white-table cloth, casual dining restaurant. Bravo! has a dedicated gluten-free menu that includes gluten-free penne pasta and a few meat based entrees. They are located at 17815 Chenal Parkway in the Promenade at Chenal, 501-821-2485.
Cantina Laredo is a "gourmet" Mexican restaurant. They are really just upscale Tex-Mex. A gluten-free menu is available upon request. They will tell you the chips are gluten-free, but many have commented that the chain sometimes fries and prepares wheat tortillas on the same surfaces the corn chips are fried and prepared on. They are located on 207 North University Avenue in the Midtowne Shopping Center, 501-280-0407.
If you're craving pizza and looking for a good crust, American Pie has the best gluten-free crust I've tasted. It's a crispy, thin crust pizza and only available in a 10-inch size. They can put pizza on the menu on a gluten-free crust or you can choose your own toppings. They have other gluten-free items as well. They have three locations: 10912 Colonel Glenn Road in Little Rock, 501-225-1900; 9709 Maumelle Blvd in Maumelle, 501-758-8800; and 4830 North Hills Blvd in North Little Rock, 501-753-0081.