Thursday, January 23, 2014

Eating Gluten-Free at Barrio Cafe in the Phoenix Airport

Gluten-Free Airport Eating

It wasn't even the holiday season yet, but I was looking at a layover of undetermined length in the Phoenix airport.

Undetermined because my flight had not (yet) been cancelled for weather reasons. But I can evaluate weather forecasts too.

Regardless of whether I got on my scheduled flight or not, I had enough time for a real meal. And I thought I had better take advantage of that time to get just such a meal, since the rest of my day was still so undetermined.

See, layovers are not all bad. Time for a sit-down, leisurely lunch is good. Time to chew. Time to shallow. Time to absorb. Time to digest.

But it wasn't exactly a relaxed lunch. I still didn't know when I was getting out of that airport. Or how many other airports I would have to endure in the same day. Or if I would make it to my intended destination that same day. Or not.

I'm always on the lookout for a gluten-free meal, especially when traveling. Often the gluten-free compromises are less than satisfying.
Barrio Cafe on Urbanspoon

Barrio Cafe in the Phoenix Airport

This restaurant is in the D concourse of the Phoenix airport. At prime time lunchtime, this place was swarming. I had to wait in line just to be seated. I'm glad I had time and I'm glad I waited. I don't think I would have gotten a real meal that day any other way.

My server was knowledgable and helpful. As soon as I explained my gluten-free needs and asked about the tortas, he told which things I couldn't have.  He noted that everything is cooked together.

Well trained, he was.

So, based on his information, I ordered the Ensalada del Barrio. "Grilled chicken breast over a bed of spinach, sweet and spicy vinegrette, toasted pecans, queso fresca, roquefort, apples, and roasted tomatoes."

That's what the menu said, and that is what you would be able to read above if I had managed to take a better picture of the menu.  

And it was a great salad! Fresh and tasty and gluten-free! No slimy spinach!

It was very good, and even more so, given that I was faced with common airport food otherwise. 

And by the way... if you find yourself desiring some refreshment with that fabulous gluten-free salad, they have a great house margarita that is not on the menu!

Yep, that's it. There, above my plate. Or rather, what's left of it.

As for the rest of my time in the Phoenix airport on this trip... well, there was lots of it. I spent eight hours in the Phoenix airport this day, but I did not sleep there. Thankfully. I got out before I had to do that. 

My airline could not assure me of a landing at my destination, so I chickened out and had them send me halfway across the country, with the remainder of the trip the following day. It all worked out fine.

Just remember, get your complete, gluten-free meals while you can! You never know where you might end up and what kind of food you will find when you get there, wherever there is.

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