Being a Texan, where cattle is a $12 billion industry, you wouldn't expect Cosmic Cowboy Grill founder Steve Eller to be vegan. And he's not. But if you are, that's fine. More than fine. It's cosmic, man.
"We've been gluten-free since the beginning," says Eller, who saw an opportunity to niche-market a vegetable-forward menu that catered to practitioners of vegetarian, vegan and even low-carb eaters.
"It's pretty easy to find one of those items on our menu," says Eller, who relocated to North Idaho and began building the Coeur d'Alene restaurant in 2016. He recently opened another location in River Park Square in downtown Spokane.
GF applies to many standard items on the menu: numerous salads, like the "over easy" Cobb; rice bowls; anything with corn chips like guacamole and the hummus platter; and many animal protein entrees, including the tri-tip, their most popular dish. Wraps and buns for the burgers they recently added to their menu both have a gluten-free option, as does the dessert menu: chocolate decadence cake.
Because Cosmic Cowboy meals are made-to-order, says Eller, the staff can be more flexible with customer requests. They're trained, for example, that if someone orders anything gluten-free to be especially attentive to the whole order, prompting with options like lettuce wraps in lieu of a tortilla.
If someone wants the tortilla, however, they can get it at Cosmic Cowboy and it's not going to taste like cardboard. Sourcing it was a challenge, admits Eller, but worth it.
"That tortilla is like a unicorn; it's so hard to find," he says.