Gluten-free eating used to mean you had to order a salad while dining out with pals. But not anymore. In San Diego restaurants have stepped up their wheat-free game, serving up drool-worthy options for every meal of the day.
Whether you’re looking for a quick snack, healthy meal, or decadent dessert, America’s Finest City has you covered. Here are 12 of the best gluten-free spots in San Diego that you—and your gluten-loving friends—will love.
Cohn Restaurant Group is winning in the gluten-free department with another outpost, Coasterra (Bo-Beau is also a Cohn classic). In contention for the best restaurant view in the city, Coasterra delivers a one-two punch with healthy Mexican fare, tons of gluten-free options, and a solid happy hour. From 3:30–5:30 enjoy $7 appetizers (we recommend the Coasterra Guacamole) and drinks. Oh, and stick around on Thursday for live music starting at 6pm.
With three locations in town, this spot is on a mission to serve up simple, healthy, and gluten-free eats that will have you coming back for more. Luckily, gluten-free doesn’t mean bread-free (phew!). Get your carb fix with The Mission’s homemade gluten-free Cinnamon or Rosemary bread, served fresh. A tip? Sample the Cinnamon bread in all its glory with an order of the French Toast. The sweet dish is topped with blueberries, berry puree, and powdered sugar—a cheat day masterpiece. Watching your waistline? Go for the Power Plato breakfast, jam packed with local farm fresh egg whites, chicken apple sausage, and black beans.
Flower Child Cafe
The Del Mar eatery has helped make fast, casual, AND healthy a thing here in San Diego. The Bohemian-styled space features a big open kitchen and plenty of patio seating. With mix ’n’ match plates, grain bowls, salads, and soups, there is plenty to choose from. Take a risk and try to the “Forbidden” Rice bowl, topped with grass-fed steak or sustainable salmon. With black pearl, red japonica, snap pea, bok choy, and more, this gluten-free dish will add a bit of spice to your plate. Cool off your palette at the lemonade and iced tea station, with flavors that change on a seasonal basis.
True Food Kitchen
There is nothing worse than a hangry (gluten-free) shopper. But at Fashion Valley Mall, True Food Kitchen has been keeping vegetarian and wheat-free shoppers’ guts safe and full since opening their doors. Dig into the Inside Out Quinoa Burger (a menu staple) — a quinoa bun stuffed with veggies, hummus, avocado, and feta. Served with a side of sweet potato hash or kale salad, even your meat-loving pals will be eyeing your plate. Save room for dessert, though! The Squash Pie topped with coconut whipped cream might just end up the best version of Pumpkin Pie you’ve ever had.
Civico 1845 offers a fresh and health-conscious spin on Italian classics. And with a vegan menu (filled with gluten-free options), you can now enjoy a plate of light and healthy authentic Italian—who knew there was such a thing? If you’re in the mood for something traditional, order the Melanzana Alla Parmigiana, a clean version of Eggplant Parmesan. Really, everything at Civico is made from scratch, full of flavor and amore, so you can’t go wrong. Snag a spot on the north end of the patio to enjoy an ocean view while enjoying a glass of wine from their impressive Southern Italy collection. Salute!
Del Mar Rendezvous
Watch out Convoy! Chinese cuisine is headed north. It’s a fact that eating a safe gluten-free Chinese meal is tricky with the wheat-containing soy sauce used in almost every dish. But Del Mar Rendezvous makes it a cinch with both a gluten-free and vegan menu. Choose from over 40 dishes including Hot & Sour Soup, Shrimp Pad Thai, and Sauteed Tofu (sourced from San Diego Soy Dairy). Rendezvous with friends on the outdoor patio to enjoy people-watching along Camino Del Mar, and a glimpse of the ocean, a short walk away.
Duck Foot Brewery
If you thought searching for gluten-free food was tough, try finding gluten-free beer. Luckily in San Diego, we have dozens of breweries churning out inventive brew safe for your belly. Enter Miramar’s Duck Foot Brewing company. The team uses a natural enzyme to break down the proteins in gluten, making it digestible and safe for those with gluten-sensitivity, including Duck Foot’s founder. We know what you’re thinking, but the enzyme is flavorless and odorless, so it doesn’t affect the taste of the beer. Cheers to that!
Where else can you find aerial yoga, ocean views, and a delicious plant-based gluten-free menu? Take the elevator up to this mini sanctuary in La Jolla and enjoy any meal of the day while basking in the sun and hanging out in their communal space (with free WiFi). Sip a smoothie or cold-press juice, or dig into a bowl post-yoga. Meat-loving friends will love the Perfect Tacos with house-made tortillas, stuffed with quinoa chorizo, sweet potato hash, avocado, pico, and spicy almond love sauce. The ambiance, the food, and the positive energy will have you coming back for seconds in no time.
Snooze, an AM Eatery
While the line may be long at Snooze, the gluten-free pancakes are totally worth it. Drop into the Hillcrest or Del Mar locations for brunch and choose from a menu of savory and sweet dishes to cure any craving. Every item on the menu can be made gluten-free with the exception of the breakfast pot pie, burrito, and gingerbread french toast. Get this: The Snooze team spent years tweaking their gluten-free pancake mix, so if you’re craving chocolate, go big with the Molten Chocolate Pancakes. On the lighter side, pick a dish from their “Light as a feather” menu—the quinoa breakfast bowl is loaded with veggies, goat cheese, and eggs.
Bo-Beau’s brussels sprouts are legendary. Charred in their stone oven and covered in balsamic vinegar, parmesan, and crispy pancetta, the popular appetizer is fit for sharing. But the beautiful (beau, in French) rustic spot in Ocean Beach, La Mesa, and Hillcrest offers more than vegetables for gluten-free diners. From Moules Lobster Bisque to Seared Pork Chop, French comfort food never tasted so good. Fitt Tip: Grab a date and stop in on Tuesdays for a “Cheap Date Night for Two”—a bottle of wine and two entrees for $39.
Red House Pizza
If you’re looking for a saucy slice of pie, look no further than Red House Pizza in University Heights. The gourmet pizza shop cooks up a variety of gluten-free appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, and pizzas, with vegan options available too. Usher in a food coma with a side of homemade gluten-free meatballs, smothered in red sauce and mozzarella. Give the gluten-free crust a try with the Jhana, a classic margherita pie. Fitt Tip: Stop in for Manic Mondays for 30% pizza and beverages.
Everything at the Encinitas and Rancho Bernardo cozy cafe and bakery is made corn-, gluten-, and soy-free. It’s too good to be true—yes, we went there. The cafe menu features everything from omelets to rice pastas to savory pies and pizzas. Craving something sweet? The bakery counter has an assortment of fresh breads, cookies, cakes, and more. 2Good2B is a safe haven for celiacs, and chocolate-lovers who want a gooey chocolate ganache cupcake (cheat day, obviously). Fitt tip: Check-in on Yelp for one free mini cupcake.