Eating Gluten Free in San Francisco

Lunch with the Best View

This summer my family ate our way through San Francisco.  Of course it was gluten free, dairy free, rice free, soy free and vegetarian.  What makes it a challenge is each person has their own combination of those ways of eating.  You can imagine that the four of us have an interesting time finding places to eat.  Brad really is not a fan of vegetables which is what Andy lives on.   Sometimes either Andy or Brad is not very happy with our eating options.  That really only happened once on this trip which was amazing.

We couldn’t get a reservation at Chez Panisse so we walked down the street to Cafe Gratitude, which I loved.  Andy liked it pretty well, Scott thought it was ok an Brad left hungry.  It’s all gluten free and dairy free and a lot of the options are raw.  I had amazing nachos that prompted me to buy their cookbook.  I recommend this restaurant but I also recommend you keep an open mind if this is something new for you.  I liked Brad’s raw pizza but it was not what he had in mind.  We ate at their Berkley location but they have 6 others to choose from.

One of my favorite places was The Plant Cafe Organic.  We liked it so much we went there twice in one week.  They offer organic meals with locally sourced food.  Their goal is organic so if they can’t get it locally they will look elsewhere.  If something on their menu is not organic it is noted.  The Crab Timbale was great as well as the Quinoa with vegetables and chicken.  Scott had the Shitake Spring Rolls and Calamari.  We shared the Scallops and Fingerling Potatoes.  I however did not share my Raw Raspberry Cashew Cheese Cake made from soaked cashews, coconut oil, agave nectar & fresh coconut, with assorted fruit or berries.  I can’t wait to meet up with fellow gluten free bloggers there next month.

A fun new find for us was Pica Pica.  The entire restaurant is gluten free.  Everything is made with corn so if you can’t eat corn, don’t go.  They specialize in arepas.  To me they were sandwiches from heaven.  To hold this warm delicious bread in my hands filled with tasty pork, avocado, sliced tomato and aioli.  It was amazing. Scott had the Pabellon which is served on a corn pancake called cachaps and filled with beef, plantains, black beans and cheese.  I loved the empanadas and the plantains too.   I will be heading there when I go back to the city in October for the BlogHer Food Conference.

While in Berkley we had dinner at Gather.  They support local food producers.  They don’t have a large menu but a very interesting one.  Everyone had a really good meal here.  Scott and I split the chicken and each had our own appetizer.  I had Crispy Pork Belly and he had Boar and Rabbit meatballs.

Before the boys joined us in the city Scott and I ate at Farallon in Union Square.  This is where Shirley and I ate at last year’s BlogHer conference.  This is a wonderful experience but save your pennies before you go.  I started with the Dungeness Crab, then the Melon Granata with Proscuttio and the third course was a Branzino with Lobster and Asparagus. When I asked if they had anything besides sorbet for dessert that I could eat, they brought me a little dish of chocolates.  Perfect!

Scott had the Crab Salad, Octopus Soup and for his third course the Branzino prepared with the dairy sauce.

Another of our favorite meals on our own was at Orson.  This is owned and operated by Chef Elizabeth Falkner.  If you are headed to San Francisco or you live there, this is a must go to restaurant.  Again not a gluten free specific menu but fresh whole ingredients prepared to order so adjustments can be made.  We started with a wonderful Melon & Arugula salad with Canadian Bacon Crisp, French Feta and Brown Sugar Vinaigrette.  I had mine sans cheese.  Scott had the Pesto Fennel Pizza with Bacon (not gluten free) and I had the melt in your mouth Bacon Wrapped Swine with Cippolinis.  It came with creamed corn but I had to pass because of ingredients.  If you can eat gluten or dairy then you must try some of the desserts.  They are masterpieces.   Scott had the Buttered Popcorn Ice Cream Sundae with caramel sauce, butterfinger halvah, chantilley, corn nuts and salted peanuts.  He said it was amazing.  I wish I had pictures but can you believe I forgot my camera.  Guess I need to go back!

Brad had a craving for pizza so we made sure we stopped at Amici’s Pizza on Lombard Street.  That location not only has gluten free pizza but soy free dairy free pizza.  They use Daiya cheese.  He said it was good but let me say I think it’s terrible how much more they charge for gluten free pizzas.

One excursion took us out to find Blue Bottle coffee on Mint Street for Andy.  That was were I had my first cup of coffee.  We were all hungry so we walked around the corner Chez Papa Restaurant.  It was early so we could got a lot of attention.  They were great at asking questions and checking with the kitchen.  I had a Chicken Salad which had grilled romaine and tasted great.  Scott had a Tuna Nicoise salad, Brad had his favorite burger and fries and Andy had a roasted red pepper soup and a Mozzarella Tartine (gluten and dairy).

We had lunch at The Slanted Door which you can read my review from last year to get more information.  I had the same meal and it was as good as I remembered.  That place is a little challenging for me because I also cannot eat rice.  But if you’re living a typical gluten free life than this place has lots of options.  Just confirm the dish does not have soy sauce.

Tacos El Pastor

Tropisueño we went to twice.  I love their Tacos el Pastor.  I could eat them every day.  To read more about this restaurant you can check out my review from last year.

A quick stop was made at the Ferry Building.  We had great fish tacos at the San Francisco Fish Company.  Brad had a few treats from Mariposa, the gluten free bakery and Andy more Blue Bottle Coffee.  I actually got a wonderful vegan hot chocolate from there too.

Fish Tacos

We walked all over the city and as you can see we ate really well.  I find that San Francisco has so many options.  I don’t usually look for restaurants with gluten free menus, but ones that create from fresh whole ingredients.

If you find yourself in San Francisco and you love to play in the kitchen, make sure you visit the flag ship store of Williams-Sonoma in Union Square.  I was like a kid in a candy store.  It’s three stories high filled to the brim with all they have to offer.  When you see pictures come from their kitchen it’s here.  I of course had to jump into that kitchen to get my photo taken.  However when Scott saw how I was drooling over the amazing stoves, we left.  Don’t miss this stop.

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11 Responses to Eating Gluten Free in San Francisco

  1. Shirley @ gfe September 30, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    Wow, Diane, what a beautiful job you have done sharing all of these spots! Rekindled some wonderful memories from our trip last year, too. 🙂 To think, we'll be there in a week … now that I've seen that raw cheesecake, yep, I must have that for sure!


  2. Anonymous September 30, 2010 at 8:04 am #

    Thank you Shirley. I can't wait to go back. I have a feeling this trip will be even more fun than the last. I'm going to see if they can ship the cheese cake. If so my family will be dancing in the kitchen!

  3. Carol, Simply...Glut September 30, 2010 at 9:38 am #

    You did an incredible job on this post and you are making me homesick! I moved to Florida from the SF area. Sorry you couldn't get into Chez Panisse – it was one of my most memorable dinners, but there is always next time. I think we should plan a gf dining/road trip across country – you in? xo

  4. Melissa September 30, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    I'm soooo disappointed not to be part of the GF BlogHer group this year. Your photo/food journey through the restaurants of San Fran looks wonderful. I guess I'll be living vicariously through tweets of food love. =) Maybe next year. Have a piece of that raw cheesecake for me. It looks amazing!

    Have fun, girls!

  5. Kim-Cook It Allergy September 30, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

    Okay, you have two of my most favorite restaurants on there: Farallon and The Slanted Door!!! You are awesome! What a great round-up of GF restaurant offerings in the city by the bay!! I am so so excited to get out there next week. For me, going there is still considered going "Home". I just light up once I get back into that city!
    So So So SO looking forward to being with you all!
    This was such a great post and so so timely! Going to go tweet about it now for the #blogherfood tweeps!!

  6. Anonymous September 30, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    I'm always up for gf and road trip. I'm in!

  7. Stephanie O'Dea September 30, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Diane, this is FABULOUS! We love Pica Pica, and seek out their stand at street fairs.
    I wanted to do a shout out to a brand new bakery on the peninsula, on Arroyo in San Carlos: Zest. They have the most moist brownies I've ever tasted, and they're GF/Vegan!


  8. Anonymous October 1, 2010 at 8:24 am #

    Thank you for the tip. Always looking for new eats and that sounds wonderful. Can't wait to get to SF! See you soon!

  9. Kathleen October 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm #

    What a great summary. I wish I had this last year. Out of an 8000 mile road trip, SF was the only place I got sick.

  10. Anonymous October 4, 2010 at 8:35 am #

    Wow that is some road trip. Sounds like a book to me. Hope you get back to San Francisco for good eats.


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