I love football. And before I went gluten free, I would enjoy going to Sports bars on occasion. Besides sports, a sports bar generally offers 2 things: 1. Beer and 2. Bar food- which consists of burgers and many deep fried things (and sometimes pizza). This doesn't really bode well for the gluten free crowd. But, with the promise of a gluten free burger bun on the menu, we headed out to Big Al's anyway.
First off, let me say, Big Al's IS a great place to watch a game, and looks like it would be a really fun place to bowl a few games. With 3 huge screens and several other screens in the sports bar area, watching the game is no problem, no matter what game you came to watch.
When we arrived, after taking in the enormousness of the place, we took a look at the menu. Indeed gluten free buns were available. The problem however, quickly became evident shortly after that. It turns out, you can order a burger, but you can't really get anything that is supposed to come with it. Fries? Nope, they're beer battered. Chips? Nope, cooked in the same oil as the fries and seasoned with gluten, according to our server. Caesar Salad without croutons? No, the dressing has gluten? Plain lettuce with vinaigrette was our only option- all the other dressings had gluten. For future reference I asked our server if the chips used in the nachos were corn. He said yes, but they have gluten. I clarified- are they fried in the same oil as gluten containing products, or do they actually have gluten in them? They have gluten in them he confirmed. So, we could eat the plain proteins and gluten free bun and that was about it according to our helpful server.
So, I got a chicken sandwich, with bacon. My wife got a burger. They tried to give us some chips, even though we'd already had that discussion with the server. The gluten free bun was fine, maybe bordering on good. Taste wise, it was pretty decent for bar food. However, even after all the conversation with our server and back and forth with the kitchen, and my lame salad, I'm pretty sure I STILL got glutened. I had an upset stomach all night on into the morning.
The bottom line is this: if you are looking for a gluten free place to watch the game, Big Al's is currently not an option. However, if you can eat gluten, and for some reason want to enjoy a gluten free burger bun, Big Al's is there just for you.
p.s. If you know a good place for GF Portlanders to watch a game, please post it in the comments section here. I for one, am dying to know!