Gluten free eating is most definitely possible while on Universal Orlando Resort property. I recently took the time to eat at NBA CITY RESTAURANT knowing that it wouldn't be there much longer.  Rumor has it that this restaurant will be closing down and making way for a new venue within months (WWE Hall of Fame anyone?).  Whether you are a fan of the NBA or even basketball in general will make no difference.  Good food is good food regardless of the pictures hanging on the wall or what's being played on the huge tv screens around the building.

I must say right from the beginning that I will not eat seafood of any kind, nor do I like spicy food so you will never see me order and review any of those items.  With that being said let me get to the actual review of my visit.

I was with my wife and one of our children on this visit.  On this trip I was the only one with a gluten allergy while my wife has the legume allergy and the child with us on this trip has the peanut allergy.  The peanut and legume allergies were not an issue when ordering here, however, the gluten allergy definitely was. 

I asked if a gluten free menu was available before even taking a seat.  I was assured that while there wasn't a specific gluten free menu, many of the menu items could be prepared gluten free.  We were all seated and I made the server aware of my allergy and the server had a chef come to our table. The chef was very knowledgeable and very helpful.  He answered every question that I had and knew the answers right away, he didn't have to go elsewhere to get the right answer.  That said a lot to me about how serious this restaurant was with regards to my questions.  Whenever a chef, server or host/hostess has to go "find the answer" or ask someone else, it's an immediate red flag for me. 

I was given many options to choose from including steak, chicken, seafood, and even gluten free pasta.  For this visit we weren't looking to eat a three course meal, just a quick lunch and then back out into the parks.  I decided to go with the Bacon Cheeseburger that was served on a gluten free bun with sweet potato fries.  My food arrived separate from the rest of our table's food and was brought out by different server.  This, for me, is so critical.  Gluten free foods should NEVER be brought to a table alongside regular menu items.  The potential for cross contamination is too great and I was very pleased to see that NBA CITY RESTAURANT understood this.
Now I don't eat prepared gluten free foods often but when I do have the occasion to be out at a theme park I do like to eat a burger now and then without having to eat it with a fork and knife.  When I asked where the gluten free bun was from I was told French Meadows Bakery.  I had honestly never heard of this company before so immediately looked them up on my smartphone.  Having been satisfied with what I read and saw on their website I decided that it would be okay to go with that selection.  I am very glad that I did.  This bun was amazing, for a gluten free bun anyway.  I have plenty of experience with Udi's and Rudi's and am well aware of the "taste" of gluten free buns, but this bun was much better than what I was expecting.  It was very soft and without the typical "taste" of gluten free bread.  Enough about the bread already though. 

The burger itself was prepared as requested, tasted great, and was well proportioned.  The burger was 100% beef so there were no fillers to be concerned with and the burger was cooked on a separate portion of their grill devoted to allergy requests.  The sweet potato fries were delicious.  They were cooked in their very own dedicated fryer and while they did have some seasoning on them, I was assured that the seasoning used on the sweet potato fries wasn't the same used for their regular french fries and did not contain any gluten. 

We did not order any dessert on this trip so I have nothing to say as to what they have available and  obviously no report on how it tasted either. 

Overall, I was very impressed with NBA CITY RESTAURANT and will recommend it to other gluten free eaters.  The food that I ordered tasted great, was well portioned, and the price was not out of "league" with the area that we were eating in.  As I mentioned above, the awareness and knowledge level of the staff was more than adequate and the "typical" red flags that are set off in a gluten free person's mind weren't on this trip.  It was obvious that this staff had been trained well and were serious about making my meal as enjoyable as the rest of my family's.  I was not surprised that I did not get "glutened" and there were no adverse reactions to anything that I ate.  This last picture was great to see, although it was at the end of our visit.  It does, however, show me that our table was "flagged" and the entire team was aware of our needs.


10/02/2014 4:11pm

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