Good food, but as with most Mexican places, eating paleo takes some effort here. The vast majority of dishes feature some combination of tortillas, rice, beans, cheese, and sauces which could contain anything. There are some salads (remember to omit cheese and croutons), steaks (watch out for sauces) and a few specialty dishes (Jarocha and Cancun Special are tasty) that might pass if you skip the rice (and sometimes cheese/sour cream. They do make a good tequila & soda, and one guy even knew about the Norcal Margarita. I’d be happy to eat there much more often if they put a simple meat & veggies dish on the menu with no grains/dairy/beans/gluten.
142 Market Street, DeForest
We’ve been there several times and I can’t recommend at this time. Pretty much everything on the menu involves bread/grains of some kind. I ordered the grilled chicken salad without croutons. Each time it came with croutons anyway, except once it came with a dinner roll instead! Paleo customers should (and celiacs must) go elsewhere.
300 E. Holum Street, Deforest
Best paleo options are the simple steaks. I usually get the New York Strip with double broccoli instead of the usual sides. Some other dishes are possibilities with minor adjustments. This is, however, one of those places that can’t/won’t offer any assurances about gluten. If not concerned about dairy or trace gluten, there are a number of interesting primal-friendly dishes with minimal junk in them. Preparation of food is generally better than you’d expect.
660 S. Whitney Way, Madison
Despite the name, much more than oysters: seafood, steaks, roast duck with parsnip mash, vegetable sides, seaweed slaw…
120 E. Wilson Street, Madison
You choose how much (if any) sauce you want on your meat. Excellent collard greens. They do have sweet potato fries and fried okra, but I’m pretty sure they’re fried in oil that’s shared with gluten products. Both kinds of cole slaw. Unsweet tea available.
901 Williamson Street, Madison
Although best known for bread and sandwiches, Panera has a “secret menu” of meat & vegetable bowls that are paleo or nearly so.
2627 E Springs Dr, Madison
656 W Washington Ave, Madison
3416 University Ave, Madison
6637 Mineral Point Rd, Madison
601 Providence Common, Madison
2960 Cahill Main, Fitchburg
All locations have grass-fed roast beef and pastured ham among the sliced deli meat options, and the Middleton store even has grass-fed hamburgers. Any sandwich can be customized, and lettuce-wrapped on request. Produce is often local and/or organic when possible. Great salad bar & hot bar. Check web site for daily specials: The grain-free chicken curry is excellent, as is the grain-free jambalaya. The seasoned meats on Taco Tuesday are good on lettuce, but even better on the roasted sweet potatoes. Breakfast is served in the morning, featuring local pastured meats and eggs. House-made bone broth from the meat case is occasionally found in the hot soup well. Paleo Mama desserts are available. Full service juice and coffee bar stocks house-made almond milk. As long as you’re there, check out the 90% organic produce dept, mostly local meat dept, and good selection of paleo staples. Indoor and outdoor seating. Paleo catering available.
1221 Williamson Street, Madison
6825 University Ave, Middleton
2817 N Sherman Ave.
I can’t call this a paleo friendly destination at this time. The place specializes in pies and lefse. Still, they advertise being gluten friendly, and there are potentially grain-free options on the menu. I tried the salmon dinner twice. Once I received overcooked sirloin steak instead. The other time I got dry, luke-warm salmon. Both times, I asked for extra vegetables instead of potatoes, and got a small serving of seemingly canned carrots or peas/carrots, again only luke warm. The side salad was edible with the croutons omitted. I also tried the gluten-free desert option they claim to always have. The first time it was pretty good, if a little chalky. The second time they were out. I’m really hoping they accept my offer to coach them with a few simple tweaks, as it’s a block from my house and could be a great place with a little work.
Corner of Main and Holum, DeForest
Quality, mostly locally-sourced food; nice atmosphere. Cured meats cutting board and wild salmon with beluga lentils & kale may not have been the most paleo choice (lentils, butter) but close enough for some definitions, and delicious.
121 S. Pinckney St., Madison
Hu Hot Mongolian Grill is a different sort of dining experience. There is a menu, but more popular is the make-your-own stir-fry, prepared with spatula gymnastics on a giant flat-top grill that looks like something from a medieval dungeon. Fill a bowl with any combination of meats, vegetables, noodles, fruits, and sauces – then watch as they cook it with flair and return it on a plate. This allows for pleasing a variety of patrons, including picky kids and yes: paleo/primal eaters. I picked beef, pork, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, & cilantro, with Kung Pao sauce – one of the gluten-free options. While unable to gurantee no cross contamination, telling them of a gluten allergy initiates an impressive ritual of supercleaning an area of the grill and sequestering your food, even as other workers continue to circle, mixing and chopping the rest with spatulas flying. I suggest an extra tip for this special care. I doubt anything is organic or grass-fed, but the food is tasty and you choose exactly what ingredients are used. For a chain restaurant with wide appeal, Hu Hot is surprisingly paleo friendly.
Update (7/12/2014): I’ve since made additional trips to Hu-Hot in various cities and continue to be impressed. Just tried the one in Kenosha, and they’ve upgraded handling of “allergens” another notch. You no longer need to tell the cooks when you get up there – instead the server gives you a special color bowl to alert them, and the process is the same regardless of what kind of allergy or sensitivity you have. (The person ahead of me got the same treatment for an onion allergy.) I’m not sure if this change is chain-wide, but I think it should be.
610 Junction Rd #101, Madison