April 2016 – Permit me to say this straight away. Gourmet Girls is one of the best bakeries and restaurants in Tucson. If you are avoiding dining there because they have “Gluten-Free” in their name, you are as foolish as I was.
In 2012, I had a particular prejudice. With minimal exposure to gluten-free breads and other foods, I was certain “gluten-free” was a euphemism for “unappetizing”. Or that you had to have celiac disease to even consider a gluten-free menu. How wrong I was.
That was the year Gourmet Girls Mary and Susan taught me that “gluten-free” foods can be just as tasty and satisfying as “regular” gluten-rich foods. It’s just that gluten makes some folks very sick. (For an explanation, please see our original Gourmet Girls review.)
Recently I stopped in at Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery & Bistro. It had been a while since I dined there and this was my chance to see all the many enhancements the ladies made since my last visit.
Most obviously, their bakery and restaurant seating space has doubled. They now serve hard cider, beer, wine, and cocktails. And their menu has expanded considerably.
Mary and Susan let me sample several items, some of which were not on their menu when I wrote the original review.
- • Raisin Challah French Toast with Fresh Fruit. $8.50. As good a French toast as I’ve ever tasted.
- • Panini using Gourmet Girls’ pizza crust as a flat bread and filled with pear, ham and Brie with a side. $11.95 Wonderful! This winner is not yet on the Girls’ menu, so ask for it.
- • Reuben on Rye (pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, house-made thousand island dressing). $11.95. I love Gourmet Girls’ Reubens. It was served with grilled chicken corn chowder with some chopped green Chiles added. I brought some home. Ms. Karen concurs.
- • Beer-battered wild-caught Haddock (yes, even their beer is gluten-free) with dill tartar sauce. As Fish & Chips (with house-made potato chips & cole slaw) $12.50. I love a good fish & chips lunch, but so often the batter is thick and greasy. At Gourmet Girls the batter is light, not at all greasy, and with their amazing tartar sauce, the best I have ever tasted … even including London pubs.
- • And for dessert … Chocolate Strawberry Mouse’. OK, that was really rich! I took some home to Ms. Karen. If this doesn’t satisfy your “sweet tooth” you need a dental checkup.
Least you think I am a complete glutton and devoured all of the above from “off the menu” portions, I did not. But even so, by the end of my “sampling” I was pretty full.
Gourmet Girls’ Cocktails
I do want to mention the cocktail I was invited to sample. It was made with CARROT JUICE. When I found this out, I started to wonder how I was going to get out of this one gracefully. I mean I occasionally snack on sliced carrots dipped in Blue Cheese dressing. But CARROT JUICE COCKTAIL … NO WAY!
On the other hand, the Gourmet Girls refer to this cocktail as a Margarita: carrot juice, Agave lime juice, & tequila. I do like Margaritas … a lot.
On the other-other hand, I thought to myself, I’ve learned to trust their judgment when it comes to foods I wouldn’t normally eat, so why not give it a try? I’ll be honest. If I did not have to drive after this lunch, I would have asked for another one. It was that good. I think these ladies get a perverse pleasure out of bursting my preconceptions.
Gourmet Girls’ Staff
Something else interesting I learned on this visit to Gourmet Girls. They have a (relatively) new staffing source … the Salvation Army Adult Recovery Center. Several of their servers are recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who participate in a Twelve Step Program. Mary & Susan are giving these folks a second chance in life, and I applaud them for it.
Following my many samples and an excellent “carrot” Margarita, Susan asked me, “So, did you miss the gluten?” To which I replied, “Not at all.” And you won’t either. Go. Enjoy.
And yes, they still have a booth at the Heirloom Farmers’ Markets in Oro Valley on Saturdays and Rillito Park on Sundays.
Gourmet Girls Gluten-Free Bakery & Bistro
5845 N. Oracle Road (Oracle & Rudisill)
Open Daily 7 AM to 3 PM