Gluten-Free on the White River

Last week I was in Arkansas. My aunt passed away last month, and the gardener and I went to visit my uncle. He’s my dad’s twin, and it was wonderful to spend time with him. As usual, we did a lot of sightseeing, but I don’t have time to put all that in this post. However, I wanted to share about a restaurant that we went to in rural Arkansas. My uncle gave me the name PJ’s White River Lodge to investigate for gluten-free dining, so I called ahead to check on it. So often, when I call, the person who answers the phone doesn’t even know what gluten-free means. This time, I was immediately told about their gluten-free menu. Plus, it was the owner who answered–and he recognized my cell phone area code, which is still from California. Turns out, he was from the same town in California we lived and where our kids grew up!

Truly, this area of northern Arkansas is very country as in out-in-the-country, except that the restaurant and lodge is on the White River which is a big fishing spot. I didn’t expect such an elegant, though casual (the gardener wore nice shorts and a button down shirt), restaurant. This was the view from our window. You can see the interior light in the reflection.


We ordered the Chilean Sea Bass and the Lobster Ravioli (a special) and the Pan Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops. My sangria was also a special. The gardener was eating the scallops before I could get a pic. The food was so delicious, and because I added in the deep fried potato roll (think twice baked potato meets egg roll–to die for), I had enough food for two meals. Fresh ingredients, well-blended flavors, and unique creations. That’s why I am writing a whole post about the restaurant. What a find for anybody in northern Arkansas (near Bull Shoals, White River, etc.), but for the gluten-free it was heavenly.

I picked up this take-home menu which has a better photo of the deck.


I was sorry to miss my aunt’s funeral, but glad I could spend some quality time with my uncle. Aunt Dolly passed away of leukemia, just as Aunt Jean did last year. I couldn’t make it to Aunt Jean’s funeral last year, but there is much more family around that uncle, including my mom (his sister).


My gratitude toΒ The Disappointed Housewife for publishing my lyrical prose/ flash nonfiction piece, “Multicolored,” last week. I haven’t been able to write much recently (same old complaint) because my daughter has been around and then I was traveling. More travel is coming up, and I am already exhausted!

My uncle regaled me with stories of the old days. I took some notes, just in case ;).

Happy Monday and Happy July!


Filed under #writerlife, #writerslife, Family history, Flash Nonfiction, Food & Drink, gluten free, gluten free restaurant, gluten free travel, Nonfiction, Writing, Writing Talk

65 responses to “Gluten-Free on the White River

  1. Food looks most inviting.

  2. What a wonderful feast! Reconnecting with your uncle sounds rich and wonderful, too…

    • It was all wonderful except of course the reason for our trip. I got to see my cousin and his wife and grandkids, too. I hadn’t seen that cousin in decades. Still the same!

  3. That is a lot of food! I love “restaurant finds” where you least expect them. While traveling in a rural area outside of San Antonio we came across a barbeque place. Best damn food we had on the entire trip yet it was in the middle of nowhere. Finding a good place with gluten-free is extra special!

    • It makes you wonder how they draw enough people night after night, doesn’t it, when they are out so far? It sounds amazing. Yes, so hard to find gluten free. And you don’t expect much in the country or small towns.

  4. I am sorry for your loss!
    That restaurant is fantastic: I am getting hungry, very hungry.

  5. A beautiful spot with yummy looking food! So glad you got to reconnect.

  6. So sorry about your aunt. Everything else in your post is wonderful though.

  7. The place looks beautiful, and that meal looks and sounds delicious. And now I’m hungry! Now I want vegetable samosas and this meal. πŸ™‚
    I’m sorry about your aunt, but I’m glad you got to visit with your uncle.
    And congratulations again on your lyrical prose/nonfiction piece.
    I have to thank you because you gave me the courage to try writing a creative nonfiction piece–and it just got accepted in another journal.

    • Congratulations, Merril! So happy to hear that you got another acceptance! Woot!!
      Thanks re “Multicolored,” too!
      Do you ever make vegetable samosas? I have not not tried them, but I wonder if they are hard to make and if they could be made completely gluten free.

      • Thanks, Luanne. Yeah–I got a bunch of rejections. It was nice to have something accepted. πŸ™‚
        I haven’t made vegetable samosas. I don’t think they’d be that hard to make, but I don’t know about gluten free. Now you have me craving them again. Haha. At this Pakistani restaurant we like, the vegetable samosas are so good–served with green chili sauce.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. I have to tell you (maybe I already have elsewhere), Multicolored is such a moving, really really really well-done piece. Congrats! Your work is so inspiring to me.
    Family stories–is there anything better? Well, maybe that twice-baked potato meets egg roll πŸ™‚ Here’s to a happy writing-full July!

    • Thank you about my aunt, Cheryl. Such a shock to have her get sick so quickly. And thank you re “Multicolored.” It was a piece I worked on for a long time as I kept putting it away and making little changes. You know how that goes haha.
      That potato roll was really something. I probably should have clarified that it is NOT gluten free ;).

  9. Food looks terrific. Luanne. It was a good thing to visit the uncle.

  10. Lovely place and the food looks delicious. Nice, you were able to spend time with your uncle.

    • How is your writing coming, Susan?! I am still waiting for book 2, ya know. The food was SO good. And, yes, I loved spending time like that with my uncle!

  11. Sorry about your loss, Luanne. Delicious looking photos!

    • Thank you so much, Elaine. That restaurant was such a find. I hope people who are visiting northern Arkansas find this blog post and give them a try!

  12. I’m so sorry to hear about your aunt. It was kind of you to visit your uncle and it sounds like you had a nice visit … food for the soul and food for the stomach πŸ™‚ Those photos made me hungry!

    • You put it so lovely, Marie. “food for the soul and food for the stomach” Aww. I just looked at the photos again. Yup, me too. I would love a repeat of that meal.

  13. And congrats on your flash piece in TDH!

  14. That restaurant sure sounds worthy of a visit – I’ll have what you had! Do I see a future full of family research……. ?

  15. Oh my goodness, what a dreamy menu! And gluten free for once! Phew! I would seriously get down with that food!
    We have White River here in Indy, too, so I like that bit.
    Glad you had such a nice visit πŸ˜‰

    • The same White River?! Gotta go to a map. BRB. Must be a different one. This one is in Arkansas and Missouri. But aren’t all rivers amazing? I find them to be fascinating, more so than lakes although I love lakes.

  16. How nice you were able to find that restaurant. It looks good, too! Sorry to hear about your aunt though.

    • Thanks, Carrie. My aunt’s time between diagnosis and death was devastatingly quick, especially for my uncle, who is still in shock, I think. I think it was good that my aunt didn’t suffer much though.

  17. I’m sorry to hear about your aunt, Luanne. That’s nice that you paid your uncle a visit. I’m sure he appreciated it.

  18. I’m sorry your aunt died. But I’m glad you had a good visit with your uncle and found such a good restaurant. I’m not on a gluten-free diet, yet I wish I were there.

  19. I’m sorry to hear about your aunt – we are rapidly losing that entire generation which makes me incredibly sad. I am also so very happy that you went to see your uncle. I hope you had a tape recorder for those conversations – a treasure.
    Yummy, yummy, yummy for the food pictures and the dining experience in Arkansas!! Enjoy all your family times…special days…

    • Yes, they are special! I didn’t ask to record or anything like that because of my uncle losing his wife so recently and having such valuable time with him, ya know? But I did jot down some good notes. Even when I rehear his stories I am impressed that the details don’t vary. He is a very reliable witness to life.

  20. Condolences regarding the loss of your aunt, Luanne! I just lost an aunt, my dad’s only remaining sibling, a couple of days ago, and I have one aunt left, my mom’s only remaining sibling. So glad you could enjoy some time with your uncle, and it must have made you feel your dad’s presence! What a lovely restaurant. We had visited northern Arkansas several years back and thought it was so beautiful. We were by a very large lake, though I don’t recall the name of it now. Happy travels.

    • I’m so sorry about your aunt, Carla. It’s a hard time of life, to see them go one by one. I wonder if it was Bull Shoals! Since Arkansas we’ve been back to Cali for work, although the gardener ended up getting sick and going to the ER, as you know. One thing after another this summer! xo

  21. Luanne, I”m so happy for you and the gardener that you discovered this lovely gem in N. Arkansas. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  22. I’m sorry about your aunt Luanne, but glad you could spend some time with your uncle. The food looks lovely, great that you could both enjoy it.

    • Thank you so much, Andrea! It’s so wonderful to find a restaurant where the gardener can eat food that is actually well prepared and the ingredients just a bit different than he can get at home!

  23. Val

    My condolences, Luanne.

    Looks like you found a good restaurant, there!

  24. Oh Luanne, thank you for taking the time to share this! The photos look divine – the FOOD looks divine – and I’m not even really a fish-lover! Tell me, just curious – does gluten-free cost more in a restaurant than ‘regular’ food? I would think it does…

    • Ellie, that is a really interesting question about the cost. In most restaurants, it does not cost more because you usually end up getting 1) something on the menu that happens to be naturally gluten free, or 2) getting less of whatever the usual is. By #2, I mean that if the steak comes with a special glutenous sauce on potato and fried onion ring, and if you substitute a plain potato and butter or plain rice and skip the onion, then you don’t get all the food. Make sense? But there are restaurants where you pay more. P.F. Chang’s, the “Chinese” food chain, is a reliable source of gluten-free dishes, but you pay a premium for them–maybe $2 more? What is cool about P.F. Chang’s is that they use a different plate for gluten-free food so that it’s clear to both the server and the customer that the dish is GF–and which ones are not.

      • Glad it doesn’t cost more, too often!
        The “different plates” idea reminds me of my late mom – she had a whole different set of dishes for Passover. After she passed away and I had to go through her stuff, I kept a few things, among them several little blue “dessert” bowls. And every time I use one, I think of her and of Passover. Sigh…

  25. That does look fabulous. And you took good food pictures, which isn’t easy to do. I know your uncle was glad to have you, and I hope your schedule allows for a tiny breather.

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