Since being diagnosed with celiac disease we have been scouring the city for gluten free restaurants where we can eat safely and enjoy a meal like normal people. Heaven Artisan GF Cuisine Restaurant and Bar has been on our to do list for awhile and we finally tried it. It was worth the wait!
One of the reasons it took us so long to try it was because we were not familiar with Venezuelan food so we were intimidated by their menu and worried that the kids wouldn’t like anything. So, with Grandma in town we finally took the plunge and went there for a date night without the kids. Now that we tried it, I am kicking myself for waiting so long!
We were greeted by Patricia, who owns the restaurant with her husband. Patricia took the time to walk us through the menu and explain what Empanadas, Arepas, Plantains, Yuca Fries and Patacones were. She also shared that they have gluten free mac & cheese and that she was certain she could find something our kids would enjoy when we bring them.
While we talked to Patricia we learned that Heaven didn’t start out completely gluten free. Most of the food on their menu is naturally gluten free though and celiac customers kept asking for gluten free. Other customers asked for vegan options too. Patricia and her husband worked with the Celiac Association to learn about how keep celiacs safe. Heaven’s menu has a number of vegan options as well and they even collaborated with a local vegan on a special non-traditional Apple Pie Empanada. As they moved their establishment from the farmers’ market to a stand alone restaurant, Patricia said she wanted to open a place where people who NEEDED to eat gluten free could come and enjoy great food without having to worry. She understood how hard it is for us to go to restaurants and feel safe from cross contamination. The ability to go to a restaurant and order ANYTHING off the menu is something we can’t often experience.
As with every gluten free restaurant we go to, I wanted to try one of everything on the menu. What a dream, to be able to order anything! Heaven Restaurant anticipated my desire and they had an appetizer on the menu that had Yuca Fries, Empanadas and Plantain Chips (and the yummiest selection of dips to dip everything in). Everything was amazing! I had a hard time picking my favourite, but I think the cheese Empanadas were the best, so don’t miss out on those. For my entree I had a Shrimp and Avocado Arepa. It looked so appetizing when it arrived that I ate half of it before I thought to take a picture and at that point it didn’t look as scrumptious anymore so you will have to trust me. The shrimp was warm and delicious and the guacamole was fresh and yummy. I am drooling thinking about another one right now.
We were stuffed when we finished our meal and didn’t have room for dessert. They had some great looking pastries though. I also heard recently that Heaven Restaurant will be offering gluten free Mountain Rhino Donuts (another Calgary treasure), yum! Dessert is definitely on the to do list for our next visit.
If you are not from Calgary, Alberta? Check to see if you have a Venezuelan restaurant in your city. Calgary also has a gluten free food truck that is Salvadoran called Que Chivo (my husband likes their food but I haven’t had an opportunity to try it yet). Que Chivo’s menu has some similar items to Heaven Artisan GF Cuisine so maybe look for any local vendors from those regions in your hometown to see what they offer.
If you don’t already follow the Gluten Free Vendors that I have mentioned, show them some love and Like their Facebook pages. They support our gluten free needs so let’s support their businesses!
- Heaven Artisan GF Cuisine: https://www.facebook.com/heavenyyc/
- Mountain Rhino Donuts: https://www.facebook.com/mtnrhinodonuts/
- QueChivo: https://www.facebook.com/QueChivoCalgary/