Noodles & Co. opened its first Jacksonville area location last year at the St. Johns Town Center but unfortunately, I was unaware of it.
I say unfortunately because Noodles & Co. has a good variety of gluten-free items on its menu. Fortunately, franchise owner Leigh Lommen invited me to come by and try it out, and I'm glad he did.
First of all, Noodles & Co. has a small pocket "gluten guide" with general information about gluten and what menu items can be made gluten free, and also cautions that the kitchen is not a completely gluten-free environment. Of course, most restaurant kitchens can't guarantee a gluten-free environment but I've always felt a restaurant that acknowledges it at least understands what our problems are.
The restaurant also has an allergen guide you can check to see if a menu item or an ingredient contains gluten or other allergens.
The Noodles & Co. menu has items such as Pad Thai with rice noodles that are already gluten free but also has pasta dishes that can be made gluten-free by substituting regular pasta with gluten-free fusilli.
Desperate to try something different, I ordered Pesto Cavatappi, a pasta dish I don't think I've ever heard of before and definitely hadn't seen gluten-free in any other restaurant. It was quite good and was a good portion size (I took the photo after I was already halfway through it).
You should be able to find something you like on the menu, including salads and other pasta dishes or rice noodle dishes that are gluten free.
If you're looking for it, it's at the end of a strip center beyond the Chick-fil-A (which may be why I hadn't noticed it. It's not visible from the main road). You can visit the website (noodles.com) to find out more about it.