Gluten Free in California
Let me preface this post by saying that I am Celiac, so my condition is a bit more extreme than someone who is intolerant, or who chooses to be gluten free for health reasons. I have to worry about cross-contamination down to the extreme — such as finding places that handle your food in a completely separate cooking area, or finding spots that are exclusively gluten free. I also don’t consume dairy or other grains (such as corn and quinoa), so this limits me even further. If you don’t have any of these extra concerns, being gluten free in Cali is super simple. There are a ton of options for you, and you will no doubt be growing a food baby throughout your entire trip. If you’re Celiac, then I don’t even need to tell you that travel is always more difficult when it comes to food, and there isn’t really a place on earth that is better than your kitchen. That being said, I still found several spots all along the pacific coast where I was able to enjoy a treat without ramifications afterward. With that, I also just had to be okay with eating from grocery stores most of the time. This is the most cost-effective solution, Celiac or not.
Imma just say this to all my Celiac brethren now: don’t travel for the food. Travel for the chance to see life lived in other patterns, and to see the amazing corners of the world that redefine the word “beautiful” for you. You need to have that mindset if you’re gonna travel with Celiac.
If you go the grocery store route, I highly recommend Trader Joes and Whole Foods. I would get a head of lettuce, a tub of hummus, a package of grilled chicken, some sliced veggies, and make lettuce wraps. I made them everywhere — gas stations, sidewalks, hotel rooms, In-and-Out Burgers (which do have gluten free and celiac friendly options, I’m just a fraidy-cat) you name it. I made my lettuce wraps and they weren’t even bad. I swapped out my veggies and got guac some times to mix it up, but it honestly wasn’t a pain and I got to eat without worrying about how I felt. I ate from the hot bar in Whole Foods a few times, which was also good. I never eat out, so even the hot bar was a treat for me. To make things a little more fun, I usually grabbed a Kombucha or two to go with my wraps.
In hotel rooms, I made “protein cereal” where you mix a scoop of protein powder in almond milk and eat it in cereal (for me thats plain rice puffs, which are the only grain that I eat.) For snacks, I ate a lot of mixed nuts and protein bars. Ya do what you gotta do.
Now I know you’re like “omg Moriah this is horrible why would I want to eat like that during my whole trip.” Don’t worry: theres more than grocery stores waiting for you. This just fills in the gaps so you can keep a reasonable food budget and spend less time scanning menus for options. Here’s the gluten free food I’ve had in California by city:
**separate post about coffee coming later because I do not mess around with my coffee**
Ok – definitely the best poke I’ve ever had. Super fresh and tonsssss of options. All of the sauces are gluten free so theres nothing to worry about here. Sooooo delish. I sat outside in the sun and watched a puppy and it was all just divine.
Greenleaf: Ok so Greenleaf has locations everywhere, but I happened to be at the one on Abbott Kinney. It was really good — the portions were just kind of small for me. Then again, thats how most health food places are. I had the spaghetti squash and meatballs.
We went to Fishouse for Happy Hour, which was really reasonably priced and had a ton of options (maybe not for me, but, ya know). The dinner menu looked really good as well and had a lot of gluten-free seafood dishes. Their website is really helpful if you want to check your options before you go. I had the ceviche, which was delishhhh. I asked for lettuce and cucumbers around it since I couldn’t have the chips, and they gave me a decent amount. My mom and brother had the fish and chips, which is clearly not something I partook in, but they looked really good.
On day two in SB I ate in grocery stores. The SB Whole Foods is probably the best one I’ve ever been to (with the exception of the three story one in Kensington, London) and they cook meat to order at no extra charge at the butcher shop. I got two grilled chicken kebabs and they were one of the best things I ate during the whole trip. You go, Whole Foods. You go.
When you’re in Monterey, you need seafood. When you’re poor and Celiac in Monterey, you need Poke. The Poke was so good — the fish was fresh and didn’t need much seasoning. They also packed a ton of food in my box, which is always appreciated. I told the guy I was hungry and he literally was like “ok you can have more.”
Melinda’s is the place to be if you like baked goods. I don’t, so this wasn’t a really stellar place for me, but I was happy to try it. They have gluten free croissants, which are about as few and far between as wooly mammoths, but they aren’t dairy free, which was a huge bummer for me — the croissants were the whole reason why I went. I had a bite of the cinnamon roll and a muffin but I was too disappointed to really like either one. My mom liked the cinnamon roll, though.
Mariposa Baking Co. (in the Ferry Building)
Mariposa was awesome — they let me look through their ingredient book to make sure there was no corn in anything, and they made a darn good sandwich. They had a ton of other gluten free baked goods that looked awesome too — they are just super expensive. I wanted to try the croissants but stuck to my sandwich for the sake of may wallet. It’s honestly the first sandwich I’ve had in years, because I generally am uninterested in smooshing my lunch between cardboard bread, but their baguette was really good and un-cardboardy. I made up a ton of words in that last sentence. Anyways, I had the Gobbler (or something named to that turkey-ish effect) which had roasted turkey breast and cranberry sauce. They wouldn’t sub the cheese for anything else, which was the only bummer. It was still good anyways, and I’d have it again.
Roam Artisan Burgers
Roam has a great name and great burgers. Everything was so bright and colorful here, and the staff was very gracious with my requests. I had a lettuce wrap on my burger and a side salad — both were excellent. They also have Sir Kensington’s condiments, which are the holy grail of ketchup and mustard. Solid.
Pressed Juicery (other locations besides CA)
Best for last: I want to live in a Pressed Juicery, and you can hold me to that. Try me. 100% serious here. If I never went anywhere else in the world, I would be totally okay with that. There are several PJ locations that have Freeze machines throughout the U.S. (you can find the list on their website) so you’re in luck even if you don’t live in CA. The Freeze is basically healthy ice cream made exclusively from fruits and veggies. Yeah, it has that “healthy” taste to it, but it’s still freakin amazing and not “icy”. They have awesome healthy topping just like a froyo bar. I had the chocolate and matcha freezes with cacao drizzle, almond butter, and a dash of Himalayan sea salt. I got the large and I was like “omg guys I can’t eat all this someone needs to help me lol haha” and then I downed it all and wanted more. SO GOOD. I’m drooling thinking about it. I wonder if you can eat it all day if you work there. Career goals.
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