Have you ever felt homesick? Sad? Lonely? In need of a freshly baked cookie, your favorite kind of chocolate, or a bag of Lay’s potato chips? Comfort food feels like an essential part of the human diet, but unfortunately, it doesn’t make us feel good for very long. It’s true, bad food can taste really good, but what if comfort food could also be good for you?
Coquette’s Bistro & Bakery, just a short drive away on 616 South Tejon St., takes comfort food to a whole new level. Coquette’s is famously known as the only exclusively gluten-free restaurant in Colorado Springs. The owner, whose mother is gluten-intolerant, creates its unique gluten-free recipes.
Elliot Law, a server at Coquette’s, had been eating at the old location on North Tejon Street for two years before he got a job at the new location this past August. He explained that Coquette’s was originally a creperie, before “it just turned into this whole thing” when the owner discovered the infinite possibilities of gluten-free foods.
Coquette’s not only accommodates gluten-free bellies, but they also avoid many products that are common allergens, such as soy and nuts, to make items on the menu more accessible. “[Coquette’s is] so good with allergens,” said Law.
The menu transforms fried foods and big portions into nutritious and energizing meals, making indulgence in comfort food more acceptable. The variety of appetizers alone is more unique than any menu I’ve seen, with dishes such as caprese bites, which consist of four large fried crepe pockets stuffed with basil, tomato, and goat cheese, topped with a homemade lavender reduction, to dishes like the spicy shrimp bruchetta and fried beets.
On any regular menu, a gluten-free option usually means gluten-free bread, or a burger patty without the bread at all: unsatisfying, uninspired, and unfinished. Coquette’s, however, has sections of their menu dedicated to savory crepes, wraps and sandwiches, and many other entrees.
The Tokyo crepe is an option exclusive to Coquette’s: a savory crepe stuffed with stir-fried cabbage, onion, celery, carrot, wasabi cream cheese, and rice, served with ponzu sauce and a side of your choice. Like in many other dishes, customers have the choice of adding seared ahi tuna, shrimp, chicken, or a vegan bean patty.
An appetizer and entrée shared between two people is more than enough to achieve a full stomach, but the absence of gluten leaves you feeling energized and light; Coquette’s redefines food and fullness.
Fried goods are not the only kind of comfort food Coquette’s has to offer, though: the bakery section of the restaurant is the real attraction. “That’s really the draw,” said Law, pointing towards a section of the open restaurant space displaying cupcakes, muffins, and other sweet treats. “It’s crazy,” said Law. “I had a couple of girls who literally were on vacation here [ in Colorado Springs] just to come here [to Coquette’s] from, like, Nebraska.”
Although 30 percent of shoppers in the United States buy gluten-free products from the grocery store, only a small number of gluten-free restaurant options exist across the country. Thus, Coquette’s has had ongoing success by occupying a special place in this niche market. “It just took off,” said Law.
Between the wooden cabin, open air, and natural light of Coquette’s—and the old-fashioned bakery setup with giant treats made healthy—Coquette’s couldn’t get much more comfortable. “You would hardly even know it was gluten-free!” junior Noelle Edwards said.