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The Camasonian

Op-Ed: Finding Safe Meals for Celiacs

Fish and chips and calamari from Coast to Coast Fish House

When you’re allergic to gluten, there are limited safe restaurants in Camas. While there are plenty of places across the river in Portland where you can grab a gluten-free bite, Camas has a serious lack of options. While places like Burgerville, Red Robin, and Bellagio’s Pizza have gluten-free options that work well for celiacs, it’s difficult to find a gluten-free meal in Camas that isn’t just a plain burger on a lettuce wrap. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the options dwindled even more as restaurants shut down over the lockdown. However, for celiacs like me, all hope is not lost.

My favorite location in town to find a delicious gluten-free dinner is the Coast to Coast Fish House. Located just across the parking lot from Costco, the restaurant boasts gluten-free fish and chips, delicious sandwiches, and all the fried seafood you could ask for. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, that location housed the gluten-free Corbett Fish House, which sadly shut down during the lockdown. Corbett had been one of my favorite restaurants for years, and I’m still sad sometimes that they had to close their doors. Luckily, we weren’t deprived of fish and chips for long, since Coast to Coast opened its doors in the same location. 

Besides offering a wide selection of gluten-free seafood, they also carry pre-packaged desserts from Portland’s Gluten Free Gem bakery. (Pro tip: grab some tiramisu from the case while you’re there.) My personal favorites on the menu are the calamari, the lobster mac & cheese, and the fried pickles. All three are very rare to find safely gluten-free, so the food from Coast to Coast is always appreciated. Live music nights are also common, which is always a fun experience. They even have a “puppy lunch” option for dogs, which are welcome on their patio.

While the food quality is amazing, the real benefit (for me, at least) lies in their celiac-safe kitchen. Nearly everything in their kitchen is gluten-free, and according to their website, anything containing gluten is prepared in a separate location. Their fryer is also completely gluten-free. While this may not be a big deal to many, it’s important to people with celiac disease like me. Even the smallest amount of gluten contamination in my food could cause me to get sick. 

Many restaurants claim to offer gluten-free options but don’t take any precautions to prevent cross-contamination with their food that contains gluten.

They use the same utensils, don’t change their gloves, or don’t clean the surfaces before they prepare the food, and suddenly the food is no longer celiac-safe, even if it’s technically gluten-free. That is why it’s so hard to find restaurants in Camas where I can eat safely. Even with gluten-free options on the menu, the lack of awareness of celiac safety makes it too risky for me even to try eating at most restaurants. That’s also what makes restaurants like Coast to Coast special. The rarity of restaurants that take care to think of cross-contamination, to think of celiac safety, is insane. It should not be as hard as it is for me to find a good meal at a restaurant without getting sick, but it is.

 I appreciate restaurants like Coast to Coast for providing a delicious option for me in an area with few other options. And of the options in the Camas area, I believe that Coast to Coast is the best out there. If you don’t want to cook dinner some night soon, head out and give it a try or order some takeout. Plenty of people avoid gluten-free food simply because of the “gluten-free” label, but I promise that once you try Coast to Coast, it’s the only thing you’ll want.

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Sophie Jacobs
Sophie Jacobs, Staff Writer

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