I’m always on the lookout for restaurants in the Phoenix metro area that have gluten-free menus. I write a food column for Arizona Weekly Magazine. While I don’t have to limit my selections to places with gluten-free menus, I definitely prefer those that do. I follow a wheat-free and gluten-free (GF) diet and so do many of my cooking students, book customers, coaching clients, and friends.
Its easy to skip the bread basket, ask your server to leave off the croutons, or order a burger without the bun. But that’s not enough for people who have celiac disease and for many people with autoimmune disorders or a wheat or gluten allergy or intolerance, even trace amounts of wheat protein or gluten in a meal can cause side effects that may last hours, days, or an entire week. While I don’t fall into that category myself, I am sensitive to the needs of people who do.
I found Ingulge Burger, located at 10392 N. Scottsdale Road on the Southwest Corner of Scottsdale and Shea (in the Scottsdale Commons Shopping Center), online earlier this year. They have a GF menu and they also offer an extensive list of GF selections. They’ve been in business for two and a half years, I just hand’t heard of them until recently.
Indulge Burger is known for their signature burgers and specialty burgers. You can get one made from beef, chicken, turkey, salmon*, or black beans. Indulge uses only certified humanely-raised and handled beef free of hormones and antibiotics. That’s a big plus to me. If you order a beef burger, you can choose between naturally-raised and Kobe beef, choose the size (1/2 pound or 2/3 pound) and how you want it cooked. You can have your burger served on brioche, an English muffin, a whole wheat bun, a gluten-free bun, or bread-free on a bed of greens (the paleo, primal, and low-carb option).
*Note: If you like salmon but avoid farmed fish because it contains higher levels of contaminants and it’s eco-unfriendly, then I suggest you let them know that you would order a salmon burger or salmon on a salad if they used wild-caught fish. When I asked, they told me they haven’t gotten requests for this. You could help change that.
Here’s where the choices come in.They offer nine different kinds of cheese (just check off what you want, if you want it). They have 15 different veggie toppings from pepperoncini to pineapple. Im partial to the caramelized, grilled onions. They have a selection of 20 side sauces, which they say have all been tested and certified gluten-free. My favorites (I didn’t try all of them) include the Aioli, Apricot Chipotle, and Honey Mustard sauces. The menu also includes additional toppings, such as honey-cured bacon, sautéed mushrooms, sliced avocado, and fried egg.
A caveat on blue cheese GF diners
If you have celiac disease or some other serious health condition requiring a strict GF diet, you need to know about one error I believe I found on their menu. Under the cheese selection they list blue cheese as an option. I’ve read that the variety of mold used to make blue cheese is grown on wheat, making blue cheese a no-no for anyone with celiac disease or a related condition.
I rarely eat burgers on a bun. I don’t miss it. I’m so used to eating a burger as a side dish with salad or cooked leafy green or mixed vegetables with a side of baked or roasted vegetables or fresh fruit. Still, I enjoyed eating a burger on a GF bun. I thought it had a good flavor and texture and held together well.
Indulge Burgers’GF menu also includes three side salads, three main dish salads, a fish sandwich, chicken sandwich, grilled veggie pesto sandwich, and an all-beef hot dog (it’s GF) on a GF bun. For people who don’t follow a GF diet, they have some additional menu options.
Indulge serves baked GF French fries. However, their sweet potato fries and crispy fried onion strings are not GF! To make these GF, they’d need to have a separate fryer or use a GF batter for all of the items they bread before frying.
I wanted to like the French fries. So did my friend who needs to adhere to a strict GF diet. Instead, we found them dry and lacking in flavor (other than a strong saltiness). I gave them a second chance and had the same experience. I suspected they were pre-cut (possibly blanched) and frozen. They have a very small kitchen and items made GF in house require extra space to avoid cross contamination. I had my suspicion confirmed when I called the restaurant.
Indulge also serves GF desserts, including cinnamon rolls, Red Velvet, carrot, chocolate, and lemon cupcakes from a local bakery, Julia’s Gluten-Free Bakery. If you follow a dairy-free diet, a low-calorie or low-carb diet, or avoid refined sugar, these are not the cupcakes for you. If you’re looking for a treat and the main determinant for you is whether something is GF or not, then go ahead, indulge. I did try part of one of Julia’s Red Velvet cupcakes a year ago (at Nourish Café), and thought it was tasty.
I thought the food tasted good and I found the portions generous. I would go back. However, if you’re looking to avoid HFCS and other refined sugars and refined, polyunsaturated oils, maybe you’re better off dining at home. If you eat out infrequently, then I wouldn’t worry about ingesting small amounts of these ingredients (I don’t). I’d say, go ahead, indulge! It’s the overall composition of your diet that makes the biggest impact on your health. One meal out of 21 per week is unlikely to be the tipping point.
Hours of operation
Indulge Burger is open Monday through Friday from 11am to 10pm; Saturday from 9am to 10pm; Sunday from 9am to 9pm. They serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. Happy Hours run from 3:30 to 6:30 pm daily with Ladies night on Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 pm to close.