Celiac Roadtrip, Part 6: Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Red Robin

During my family road trip from California to Colorado, we saw amazing sights and devoured delicious food. No day proved to be more surprising in both categories, however, than our last day at Colorado Springs.

Our last planned hurrah was a trip to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, ancient home to the ancient Anasazi. Honestly, I had no idea what to expect when we drove through the iron gates of the park. Hollowed out caves? Child-like artwork? Overpriced souvenirs? (At least I got the last one right). 

Welcome to the Cliff Dwellings!
With only a glance, the cliff dwellings shattered all of my expectations. The homes were actual homes, carved directly into nature instead of built with wood, cement and beams. As we walked through the rooms, I gawked at the food storage containers (blocks of rock carved next to the wall), meticulous windows and fire pit. Even more amazing, as we climbed deeper into the caves, the heat that forced Mom and I to hide under sun hats (comfort > fashion), disappeared. No need for air conditioners here!

The Anasazi even built buildings of multiple levels held up by carved beams and a used a stone cooking mechanism that reminded me of a pizza oven (of course, I narrow in on the food). My favorite part, though, was smelling a tree that the Anasazi used for cooking: no kidding, it smelled exactly like vanilla! Can I please grow one of those by my bedroom window? 

The Anasazi's home-sweet-home!
After a few hours of exploring, heat and hunger forced us back in the car. With the goal of celebrating our last day at the Springs, we drove to our planned lunching spot: Coquette's

Except as I eagerly pulled on the entrance door, I noticed the "closed" sign hanging in the window. So much for my stellar food planning...Find Me Gluten Free  to the rescue! After scanning the phone app's options while my folks drooled over houses, I settled on Red Robin. I'd heard stellar reviews of their gluten free protocol before and, with the clock inching close to one, our stomachs were getting desperate. Burgers, here we come!

Red Robin to the rescue!
Despite the pack of parked cars surrounding the restaurant, we were quickly seated at a booth in the corner. During my pre-trip research, I'd heard that Red Robin only provides its gluten free menu online or through their phone app, so I quickly downloaded the app. A few clicks later and presto! I had a plethora of mouth-watering options literally at my fingertips

Like usual, I spelled out my celiac autobiography to the waitress, who directed me to use the app and promised to "work with me." I also confirmed that there was a dedicated fryer for the steak fries, since my research showed it can vary by location. 

We all liked this location!
In the end, I ended up ordering a turkey burger with lettuce on their gluten free bun with a side salad. I was hesitant about ordering the bun since I'm usually disappointed with restaurants' gluten free bread, but decided I needed something besides lettuce on my burger! My gluten free mom also gambled with the bread, but got a loaded hamburger and GF steak fries. 

When our food arrived only a short time later, all of our jaws dropped. The burgers were monsters and all of our sides took up half the plate. 

My first bite of my turkey burger, though, skyrocketed me to heaven. Even with limited toppings, it didn't taste plain. Instead, the turkey was light and juicy, but charred on the edges and my lettuce provided the perfect crunch. The bun, though, surprised me the most! I planned on eating maybe half of it if it was slightly edible, but I devoured this baby! Fluffy, solid enough to not fall apart and perfectly crisp. The best bun I've had at a restaurant (Coquette's excluded), hands down. 

My delicious meal!
My side salad was equally huge and delicious. The mixed greens were fresh and crisp, the cabbage added a great crunch and I loved the thousand island dressing on the side.

The star of the sides, though, were my mom's gluten free steak fries. They tasted fluffy, hearty and lacked the typical grease. I also loved that I ate them feeling entirely confident in their "gluten free" label. I ended up devouring most of my mom's fries, which wasn't a problem since Red Robin's steak fries are bottomless. Never-ending gluten free fries? Count me in!

Mom's loaded burger and GF fries!
The rest of my family was equally shocked at how good their meals tasted. My mom adored the gluten free bun and her burger, which was cooked to be lightly pink on the inside. My dad devoured his BBQ burger and my sister destroyed her plate of fried chicken and shrimp. Considering my sister slurped down a mint brownie milkshake, my dad almost finished a second serving of fries and my mom and I wreaked major havoc on our plates, I can say it was so good, we couldn't stop eating. 

I felt extremely safe during this entire meal and our leftovers (we all saved half a burger/chicken fingers and some of our second round of fries) kicked butt when we started the drive back home the next day. I haven't tried the Red Robin near my house, but we are already craving an encore and hope the San Diego location will be just as great. 

On the way home!
The last day at Colorado Springs was full of surprises, but we didn't leave with any complaints! A day of beautiful historical sites, delicious burgers and time with the family? This college celiac can't ask for any more than that! 

How do you eat gluten free on the fly? Have you ever eaten at Red Robin? Comment below!

*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*


  1. I LOVE red robin!! We have one down the street from my house and I grew up going there a couple times a month with the fam. It is delicious and there are so many great things on the menu! and those fries.. ADDICTING! So glad you had a wonderful last day in CO!

    1. Another restaurant we can hit when you come visit Cali! :) Yep, I totally agree about having a Red Robin fries addiction and can see how my family may start hitting it severeal times a month! YUM!

  2. Actually when I was just gluten-free and still ate out, I actually had the best chicken burger at Margarita Ville in Myrtle Beach! I forgot all about that! The bun was perfect!

    1. Wow! If I'm ever in the area, I'll definitely try it out! It's amazing how much of an impact a simple peice of delicious safe bread can have! :) Just out of curiosity, what else are you avoiding in food now? If I'm prying, no worries about responding. :) Have a great day!

  3. I love LOOOOVEEEEE Red Robin! It's not gourmet, bUT it is ONE of the very few restaraunts I can eat and feel SAFE at. The location I go to, brings out the ALLERGEN binder, so I can happily scan for gluten free and lactose free items AND THEIR BUNS ARE THE BEST :) SO happy you got to experience this deliciousness. Their guacamole isn't GF so this is what you should order next time:

    Turkey Burger
    Avocado SLICES *which are gluten free

    and see if they have sweet potato fries, cause the location I go to does, and they're GF as well :)


    1. That is soo cool that they have an allergen binder you can look at! You special girl, you! HOW SMART TO ORDER AVOCADO SLICES!!! I was so bummed that their guac wasn't GF and I didn't think about asking for plain avocado. I'm definitely gonna order that next time nad check out the sweet potato fries! :)

  4. I'm craving Red Robin now! I actually haven't tried their bun- I usually get my burger on a lettuce wrap so I can eat more fries!

    1. Haha so true! Their fries are rediciulously addicting! :)


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