Food Allergies: Resources for Eating in Rockland
I’m going to say from the beginning that this was a daunting post to put together.
My goal is to provide some helpful tips for guests with food allergies, who are trying to relax and enjoy their time in Rockland. With that said, there are lots of establishments that offer some gluten free, dairy-free, or peanut-free options on their menus. Many others urge diners to share their food restrictions with their server upon arriving at the restaurant, or even before (while making a reservation). I didn’t want this project to overwhelm me, though, and keep me from writing it at all, so here’s how I proceeded.
First, I went to a local message board on Facebook and I asked the midcoast universe to recommend their favorite resources for folks with food allergies. I got a very generous response. People told me about their favorite stores and restaurants as far away as Bath! My goal was to concentrate my list on Rockland, so I kept the more far-flung recommendations in reserve.
Next, I took the names of all the recommended restaurants and looked up their menus on the internet. Where questions arose, I emailed the restaurants to ask for specifics. Here’s the big takeaway I had: almost every restaurant answered me within 24 hours with a friendly and helpful response. Any visitor with food allergies should absolutely not be shy about contacting these establishments. They are super-helpful and glad to share any information you request.
What follows is a list of grocery stores and restaurants in Rockland that offer menu items tailored to people with various food allergy restrictions. The information here was gathered as of June 2015 (original date of publication) and some new establishments were added and closed ones deleted in July of 2017. I will make notes anywhere in the post where I make further updates in the future. Please understand that, unless otherwise noted, I have not been made aware that these restaurants have special prep areas for allergen-free foods. If the owner or representative told me anything specific about the restaurant’s prep areas, I shared that, below, as a direct quote.
Disclaimer: The author is not a physician and not licensed to provide any medical, health, food or allergy-related advice or guidance. All information is to be utilized at the reader’s risk . The author hereby disclaims all obligation and liability arising out of the use of this information
Let’s start with shopping.
Health Food Resources for Food Allergies
750 Main Street
This is our local food co-op. When I went in there, I was sort of overwhelmed by the sheer number of interesting products they offered. Whether you are seeking gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, vegetarian, or raw food products, you will find something to buy here.
The Good Tern also has a popular cafe where they offer gluten-free, dairy-free, and peanut-free items ready-made on most days. However, the representative who mailed me back stressed this: “We are not, however, a GF, DF, PF kitchen, so there is no guarantee…we do make things with peanuts in our kitchen, for example.”
435 Main St.
Jennifer, the proprietor at Main St. Markets tells us that they have many offerings for folks seeking gluten-free products. Since the market offers both groceries and a ready made options, it’s important for customers know they can either buy food there or get it made for them and still have options. The counter offers sandwich and toast with gluten-free breads, as well as chopped salads, smoothies, gluten free soups and grab-and-go items that are gluten-free.
In the grocery area, Jennifer cites certified Gluten Free products that are generally available and mentions they also have access to special order local gluten free baked goods with their existing vendors: Wildflours, Hootin Gluten Free Bakery and others.
Since Main St. Markets is right in the heart of town, it can be a great options for those quick stops while you’re taking care of other things, or for a snack after the museum!
495 Commercial St. (Rt. 1)
Melanie, the proprietor of this store (just on the way to Rockport) is familiar with the struggles associated with food allergies. The Facebook page for the store describes having a “full selection of Natural Foods, Organic & Local Produce, Maine made goods, Maine raised foods, Wheat Free/Gluten Free & other foods for special diets. Vitamins, Herbs & Homeopathic Remedies.”
Furthermore, the folks at Fresh Off the Farm are happy to special order any items you want that they don’t happen to carry, and at a discount, as well. Melanie is very excited to help customers find the right products and she invites everyone to call or e-mail with questions.
Restaurants Accommodating Food Allergies
The key message I want to send about eating out with allergies is to call or e-mail the restaurant and share your requirements. Do not be intimidated or think that these folks are not interested in your concerns! I am in no way affiliated with any of these establishments and I was impressed by their thoughtful and open responses to all my questions.
I also want to share that most of the restaurants in Rockland welcome diners to share their food sensitivities and will do their very best to accommodate you. The ones listed below shared extra information with me that made them worth highlighting, so they are great places to start.
397 Main St.
I haven’t spoken with any of the owners, but based on my personal observations of the menu, this popular sandwich shop on Main Street is an excellent place to visit if you are vegan or gluten free. The menu advertises both options and gluten free bread is offered for a small upcharge. I also spotted gluten free beer when I was waiting for my order.
I’ll admit, I was a little chicken to e-mail such a renowned restaurant, asking about their policies, but I put on my big girl pants and did it. I needn’t have been shy. I got a very helpful response in just one day. The representative from Primo offered me the following information:
“Upon making reservations we recommend that the guest make note of any special dietary needs/restrictions/allergies etc. We are pleased to accommodate these requests and warmly welcome all who wish to dine at Primo. Though we do not promote ourselves as a Vegetarian/GF establishment per se, we do pride ourselves on accommodating special needs and requests to the very best of our ability.”
Haven’t got time for a reservation? Read on:
“Primo reserves a generous portion of the restaurant each night for walk in guests. In this instance, our highly seasoned and incredibly talented wait staff will work with the Chef to create a dish that meets all of the diners specific dietary requirements.”
In closing, diners are urged to call with questions at any time.
650 Main St.
I contacted The Home Kitchen Cafe directly, because I’d heard they offered gluten-free options. The (nearly immediate) response from Susan was as follows:
“Anyone is welcome to include polenta made in house, gluten free bread (which we buy commercially – it is Udi’s) or corn tortillas – made in house. We also offer any of our sandwiches on a bed of greens. We have gluten free pancakes made with our own batter, which includes rice flour. We also use a gluten free Irish oatmeal supplied by Bob’s Red Mill.”
Further, she gave this helpful information about prep areas:
“If a customer is celiac, we are happy to cook their polenta, pancakes, or tortillas on a separate surface, but we cannot guarantee there will not be any cross contamination. Oatmeal is cooked individually in separate bowls.”
606 Main St.
The Home Kitchen Cafe also runs the Home Sweet Home bakery right down the street! Susan tells me they are happy to accommodate dietary restrictions and offers the following specific info:
Home Sweet Home
Susan says, “Home Sweet Home bakery offers many gluten-free items including gluten-free birthday cakes and pie crust. Although we are not a gluten free facility and there can be cross-contamination for anyone who is a severe celiac. We also make gluten-free bread.
Egg and Dairy-Free
“We have made both egg free and dairy free birthday cakes for clients.”
10 Leland St.
This popular new pizza place just blocks from us now offers gluten free pizzas. Quoting a post from their Facebook page, “Rotary Pizza can now offer gluten free pizzas. We are using an isolated product with our gourmet toppings. We will take care with any gluten free order but for those with Celiac we cannot guarantee that no gluten will be present, only that we will do our best to make sure it is not.”
According to co-owner Sherrie Gibson, Fog can accommodate a number of food sensitivities and is always happy to offer menu adjustments. Specific standard options are as follows:
Gluten free items are marked on the menu (including Pachanga corn tortillas) and all desserts are currently (as of August 2017) gluten-free.
Fog has a vegan entree and soup every night.
Fog is completely soy-free at present.
449 Main St.
This restaurant just opened recently and their first menu features both gluten free pasta and gluten free pizza!
I hope this list gives you a good starting point, and I’m happy to add any new resources I find out about. Please feel free to leave a comment or contact us if you would like to suggest an addition.