Top 10: Eating Gluten Free in Waco

Top 10  “Most Opened” Blog Posts of 2019: # 5

By Ellie Triplett

If you avoid gluten for any reason, eating out can be a challenge. If you’ve been doing it for any amount of time, you’re probably an old pro at the basics of avoidance when it comes to regular menus. But what about when you want something as classic as a cheeseburger? Where do you go for your macaroni and cheese cravings? Where can you find gluten-free pancakes? Or, the golden chalice of gluten-free eating, where can you go for pastries? Never fear, my friends, you are in luck. I am here to tell you that you are living in a town with a growing culinary culture, with restaurants that provide an impressive array of allergen friendly dining options. What follows is a very basic, non-comprehensive list of where to find your fill of sans-gluten treats in good ol’ Wacotown.

It seems logical to start with breakfast. If you are looking for pancakes, Café Cappuccino (with three locations at 100 N. 6th St., 1101 Richland Dr., and 903 N. Hewitt Dr.) is known for its amazing, plate sized pancakes, and now they come in gluten-free! I have personally ordered and enjoyed them.

Uptown features wonderful vegan and gluten- free waffles at Luna Juice Bar (1516 Austin Ave.). In carrot, matcha, and strawberry, the waffles are made with oat flour, gluten-free flour, or coconut flour and topped with coconut whipped cream, and are DELICIOUS. Pair them with a smoothie, or a cold pressed juice and you’ve got a perfect breakfast. Luna Juice also has a full menu of delicious salads, soups, and wraps, if you need a quick lunch later in the day.

Down the street at Harvest on 25th (112 N. 25th St.) you can continue your breakfasting or slide right into brunch with gluten free muffins, pancakes, or avocado toast. They offer ways to make their entire menu gluten-free and also offer gluten- free pizzas.

Since we’ve moved on to lunch, and specifically pizza, it is worth mentioning that Poppa Rollos (a long time local favorite at 703 N. Valley Mills) offers a good gluten-free version, and both Slow Rise Slice House (7608 Woodway Dr.), and 900 Degrees Pizzeria (315 S. University Parks) have cauliflower crusts which are keto friendly as well as being gluten-free.

If you’re craving a hamburger, look no further than Tom’s Burgers (6818 Sanger Ave.) It is a mom and pop burger joint that has just recently been brought to my attention for their gluten-free buns.

A newer option with gluten-free buns and bread is Revival East Side Eatery (704 Elm Ave.). They have a full menu, including soups and salads, so you’re sure to find something for everyone.

If you’re looking for the kings of comfort food (in my opinion), macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches, look no further than The Mac House (3428 Franklin Ave.). Their artisan sandwiches and macaroni creations are amazing, and worth every penny and every minute you’ll spend waiting (it’s a bit, y’all, but worth it!).

Which leads me to my favorite way to splurge on gluten-free food; the pastries. Fabled Bookshop downtown (215 S. 4th St.) has gluten free lemon poppy seed cake as a part of their newly opened café, alongside literary themed drinks and other snacks. However, Baked Bliss (1114 N. 15th St.) is truly the sweet spot for sweets (see what I did there?) with cinnamon rolls, cranberry orange scones, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, and bacon cheddar scones (if you’re feeling the savory side of things) all offered gluten-free daily. You can pre order their gluten-free bread, which they bake on Wednesdays in a completely gluten-free kitchen, on Tuesday mornings.  They also have gluten-free cakes, cupcakes, lemon shortbread, and pecan shortbread cookies, all of which can be made ahead of time for special events.

Phew! It’s a lot! A couple of things to note as we wrap up. Firstly, I am not a food blogger, or really any type of blogger. In many of these cases, I have eaten and enjoyed the food, but this is not true across the board. As a result, I did not attempt to describe in too much detail the experience of eating the food, so as to be fair. Secondly, this is by no means a comprehensive list. If your restaurant, or your favorite restaurant was left off the list, it is in no way meant as a slight. I polled my friends, asked for help, and sent out a few cursory messages asking for clarification on menu items. The result is this post. If I made a grievous error, leave us a comment! Share your knowledge! Thirdly, it is important to keep in mind that there are no certified gluten-free kitchens on this list. Most things will experience some level of cross contamination, and you are, as always, advised to check with your servers and express your level of allergy, and make an informed decision for yourself.

Happy (and safe!) eating, friends!


A couple of other resources…


Ellie Triplett is a book lover, weaver, former bee keeper, and enneagram four.  She lives and works (and eats) in Waco alongside her spouse and their three children. 

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Waco Employer Resource Network (WERN) helps employees stay on the job!

By Sion Firew

The Waco Employer Resource Network (WERN) incorporates community collaboration with uniquely tailored case-management plans to help Waco employees retain their jobs. The WERN initiatives originated from the Prosper Waco working group of the same name and have developed into a stream of connection between employers, employees and local resources. With the help of Goodwill Industries and Caritas, WERN has facilitated crucial communication between the participating Waco employers and their employees while raising employee awareness of local opportunities available to help navigate personal obstacles to successful long-term employment.

The average retention rate for the 16 employers that are active in WERN is currently 61 percent. According to Tiffany Gallegos, the development director of Goodwill in Waco, the employment turnover rate in previous years has been as high as 70 percent.

“We are the first Employer Resource Network in Texas, and that is something I am really proud of,” Gallegos said. “I think this shows how our city is dedicated to moving the needle on keeping people employed and successful in their jobs.”

To have the retention rate increase from 30 percent to 61 percent over the past few years is incredible to say the least, but what factors in particular caused such a shift?

There are numerous WERN programs that are beneficial to those in the workforce, but the addition of success coaches has caused a major shift in the way employers and employees interact and understand one another. Success coaches identify the personal burdens with which an employee might be struggling and find the resources that will allow the employee to keep their job by successfully managing the obstacles they face. Success coaches most commonly aid with accessing resources related to food, utilities, family support, education and financial support.

Caritas success coach Cletha Tyler explained, “We’ve made a difference in many people’s lives. The success coach and the solutions found help them because they fall through the cracks of a lot of other resource options.”

Though many companies have employee assistance programs that provide support, they may not take the hands-on approach of WERN success coaches. Thanks to the WERN success coaches’ ability to craft case-specific solutions and guidance on overcoming personal obstacles to employment, extra steps can be taken to ensure job security. Tyler described how employees who may not have access to the help they need, including food stamps and government housing, can be at risk of losing their job or missing out on promotions. Success coaches step in and create a bridge of understanding in which employers and employees can work together to create compromise and meet the needs of both sides.

“One lady this summer was going to lose her job because she didn’t have anyone to keep her 10-year-old son,” Tyler said. “The employer called me that day and said ‘Look, if she misses work tomorrow, she’s getting fired.’ So, I went out there and I contacted the Waco Boys and Girls Club, and I was able to get her into the summer program. It just so happened that it was around the corner from her house so she could drop her son off

[before]

work.”

This situation with a woman and her son is only one of many in which people feel stuck in their circumstances because they are not aware of or do not have access to the opportunities for assistance around them. Tyler explained that success coaches build a detailed list of resources for these Waco employees. They do not simply tell people to call random 1-800 numbers, but instead refer their clients to local community resources. This local focus is vital to creating the community connections needed for positive WERN results.

Tyler and her colleagues exemplify the resounding theme of community cooperation and individualized case management that WERN upholds. WERN, Goodwill and Caritas have been working to see employees have the opportunity to keep their jobs and advance in their chosen fields. The improved retention rate of employees dramatically demonstrates the effectiveness of WERN’s hands-on, personal approach to helping the employees of Waco. While WERN has done a substantial amount to decrease the turn-over rate, with the help of the success coaches, and cooperation from these Waco companies, even more employees will be able to find resources and have access to job opportunities and promotions that they might not have had otherwise.


Sion Firew is a communications intern at Prosper Waco.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.