This past weekend I had the pleasure of going ‘down south’ with my husband’s family. We all spent the weekend together in a hotel in Grand Forks, ND (yes, that is actually south for me). Now, anytime we go anywhere, we do our research on what I can eat, where, and make a plan. I am very happy to say that I did not get glutened this past weekend, and that always makes for a more enjoyable weekend away, doesn’t it?
Our first stop in Grand Forks is either Hugo’s Family Marketplace on 32nd, or the Super Target. That Hugo’s location has a lot of gluten-free foods available, and it makes it easy to ‘stock up’. This time though, we stopped at the Super Target (also on 32nd), and bought our provisions for the weekend. Some Honey Nut Chex, 2 L (or 1/2 gallon down there) milk, corn chips, jar of salsa, bananas, yogurts, cut up mixed fruit from the deli, sliced up cheese from the deli, and a few great salads that had romaine lettuce, grilled chicken breast, strawberries, blueberries, goat cheese and a poppy seed dressing. Those salads are my favorite, they are such a great value for under $5! And they are huge! So, for breakfast & lunch, we just ate at the hotel room. Our room did not have a fridge, but we have an electric cooler that we brought along, worked GREAT!!
We did also go out to eat. Once at Paradiso (chips free, dinner extra). Although they do not have a gluten-free menu, they are very accommodating, and knowledgeable about serving someone on a gluten-free diet. The manager came out to talk to me, told me what my options were, and I just ordered based on his recommendation. Although it would be much easier with a printed gluten-free menu, this worked just fine. We ate well, and I didn’t get sick, which is always the deciding factor on whether or not we will go back there again.
Another place that we ate at, and this was not planned, was at Pizza Ranch. I had seen this restaurant (which apparently only opened at this location in December 2011) when we had gone shopping. I liked that the location was so close to our hotel, and the stores, and decided to Google it while we were sitting around the pool, watching the kids get their last swim in. Lo and Behold…they have a gluten-free menu online! I was rather amazed. Now, I am the only one that has to eat gluten-free in our family, but this place had something for everyone. Let me fill you in on how Pizza Ranch works.
Basically, Pizza Ranch is a buffet pizza place. So, you do not have to order a pizza that everyone likes (we all know how difficult that is). Everyone else could enjoy a slice of this, a slice of that, and no one had to commit to a whole pizza. Well, no one, except me. Although it is a buffet place, you can also order off the menu, which is what a gluten-free person will have to do. They also have a number of items on their buffet that are gluten-free. In addition to pizza, they had a cold salad bar, as well as fried chicken (not gluten-free, but others said it was very good), mashed potatoes, green beans, etc. So, the rest of the family could easily pick what they wanted, and I could have my own gluten-free pizza.
When you order off the gluten-free menu at Pizza Ranch, expect your pizza to take about 15-20 minutes to get to your table. We had a manager tell us the pizzas take about 15 minutes because they have to make the pizza in a different area of the kitchen (I liked hearing that), and when the pizza arrived, it was baked on it’s own disposable pizza pan, which let me know that they didn’t bake it on the same pans they make their regular pizzas on (loved seeing that). The crust for the pizza is thin, but not really crispy. It’s not the greatest crust that I’ve had, but also not the worst. As far as take-out pizza goes, I’d rate it pretty good. I had the Texan pizza, and it was very good. The gluten-free pizzas are about 12-14″ across, and 8 smaller slices. For our family of 4 (three having the all-you-can-eat buffet and me having my own pizza) it cost $32. I thought that was very reasonable for eating out, especially when everyone gets whatever they want, and how ever much of it they wanted. That also includes drinks & desserts, which were also part of the buffet. All in all, a fantastic experience, and we will be stopping there again when we travel in the U.S..
The next time you are heading down to Grand Forks or Fargo for the weekend, whether you eat gluten-free or not, strap on ye ol’ feedbag and head to Pizza Ranch, partner. I think you might be mighty pleased that ya did. Yeehaw!