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gluten-free in SF

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Any recommendations for GF dining in SF?

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  1. I hope you get lots of responses, because I also have to follow this diet.

    I imagine you already know about Crave: http://www.cravebakery.org/

    When I eat out, I usually opt for sushi and carry my own wheat-free soy sauce. Just steer clear of tempura, pre-marinated or sauced things like eel, or things that use surimi (CA rolls). I live in the East Bay and enjoy Isobune and ManPuku, both on College Ave. in Oakland and Berkeley respectively.

    There are also national chains with GF menus, if you wanted to Google, or take your question to a general board. I would also recommend this tactic to learn more generally about strategies for eating out GF, if you haven't already done this.

    3 Replies
    1. re: WGibs

      Can't believe I forgot this one. It isn't SF and I've never actually done it, but supposedly Pizza Rustica on College Ave. in Oakland will do a rice crust pizza if you call a day ahead. You can choose your toppings once you arrive. If you try this, please report back.

      By the way, I don't see this mentioned anywhere on their website, but I read about it on a gluten-free site.

      Link: http://www.caferustica.com/

      1. re: WGibs

        I've worked at several high end restaurants and if you call and let them know your restrictions, they will accomodate. I'd imagine any top tier restaurant will do this for you (for when you want to splurge). Heck, we even did a chocolate dessert using olive oil instead of diary for a guest that was delish.

        1. re: WGibs

          I've had the gluten-free pizza from Rustica. It's fantastic!! Friends of mine you don't have to be on a gluten-free diet have tried it and they liked it. My son was thrilled to be able to order a GF pizza. It really is delicious. The bakery that provides the crust is "I Can Eat That." The "I Can Eat That" bakery also has other products that can be purchased from select stores in the bay area. In addition to their frozen GF pizza crust, they also have two types of frozen breads, a white and brown style. The breads are great for making stuffing and grilled sandwiches. You must try the GF pizza from Rustica.

      2. I don't know about GF dining, but here are some random tips I know of:

        1.) Whole Foods will print out a list of GF and wheat free items they sell. just ask at the customer service desk.

        2.) i hear that Trader Joe's will do the same.

        3.) GF chocolate chip cookies in the frozen bakery section at Whole Foods are good.

        4.) Rainbow sells Crave and Mariposa baked goods. the Crave chocolate cake is good, as are their brownies. i haven't tried the Mariposa biscotti yet though.

        5.) Pamela's pancake mix sold at Rainbow is the best GF mix i've found so far.


        2 Replies
        1. re: baconeater

          baconeater, thanks for these tips! i didn't know that about TJ or WF - I'll be sure to pass this on to my dad who eats gluten free.

          we often get him the chocolate cake at whole foods because it doesn't have gluten and it's wickedly good.

          1. re: baconeater

            I posted recently about the availability of GoMacro GF bars: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/561120

            I think you can get them in several places in SF.

          2. http://www.enabling.org/ia/celiac/#su...

            Hello all,

            My apologies - I meant to do this a long time ago, and then I saw today's message with the same question that I posted a while ago..

            Thank you all for the answers regarding SF and the Bay area GF. Some of you sent your own summaries, so I'm posting those as well.

            Stores: Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are the major ones carrying a nice selection of GF stuff in SF. I found that WF (on Franklin & California) have the better selection. Also, supermarkets such as Cal-Mart (Laurel Village) and Cala-Foods have some stuff too.


            Jane recommended Outback which has a GF menu (in Sausalito) and Nick's Lighthouse, where she was able to have the chef make a few changes.

            Terri recommended Crave, A San Francisco Bakery - cravebakery.org - brownies, cookies, etc. they have a list of locations where their goodies can be found.

            Jeff suggested www.goodhealthpublishing.com for a list of 105+
            national/regional restaurants and their lists of gluten/wheat free items.

            Summary 1:

            Anne forwarded to me the following summary that was posted by Marian from Feb. '05 list:

            Restaurant list:

            Rainforest Cafe
            Lori's Diners
            The Fish Market
            Max's Deli
            PF Changs
            Whole Foods (groceries
            )Trader Joes (groceries)

            Following are excerpts from responses I received:

            Contact Rainforest Cafe at their website and they will accommodate you =
            S.F. =20
            Alioto's and Fisherman's Grotto on the pier. Great view.

            Lori's Diners...a chain. Just make sure your eggs are not mixed in with =
            the pancakes, etc.=20
            They're all designed like 1950's era.

            Marin county.... Frantoio's or something like that,=20
            where they actually press olives in a real olive press in front of the=20
            diners....behind glass. Expensive. Not kid oriented.

            ... Scoma's, where I've had great meals....in Sausalito...
            I think there is also a Scoma's at Fisherman's Wharf in=20

            South of the airport in the San Mateo area is The Fish Market. Loved =
            food. Lots of choices.=20

            Max's Deli, where you can buy lo-carb....just meat...dishes and I'm =
            sure, salads. Not sure of the night,=20
            but the waiters sing opera sometimes. There are other Max's Deli's in =
            city. The portions are enormous and everyone enjoyed the ice cream =

            "Hobee's" in the Palo Alto, Mountain View and Sunnyvale area.=20
            They are kid friendly, they have veggie=20
            meals, BUT I can not guarantee that you will get a gluten-free meal.=20

            PF Chang's in Sunnyvale w/ GF menu.

            PF Changs. Outback. Both of those places are kid friendly and would =
            have veg. options. Maybe not so much at Outback but they do have salads =
            and steamed veggies. =20

            I sent a summary to the list regarding SF and the Cuppertino areas for =
            food options. Here is one of the links I got for information:
            Click here: San Francisco Bay Area Celiac Support Groups Restaurants =
            with Gluten Free Items=20

            Try going to www.goodhealthpublishing.com for a list of 59 =
            restaurants and their lists of gluten/wheat free items. There's also a
            gluten free dining card that can be presented to restaurant personnel to
            ease the ordering process.

            Summary 2 ( by Shereen):

            Hi, Thanks to all for your suggestions. First there is a website,
            >www.bayareaceliacs.org/restaurants.htm, which is a blog on restaurants
            >in the Bay Area. They don't have restaurants that have gluten free menus
            >except for the usual Outbacks and PF Chang's, etc. That was disappointing.
            >I am from New York and we are fortunate to have numerous restaurants with
            >special GF menus courtesy of GFRAP. The Bay Area should too!
            >Old files were generously provided, but some restaurants and cafes that
            >were accommodating are no more, like Alma's. The Dolores Park Cafe's gluten
            >free baker passed away,I was told, and not replaced.
            >I went to an organic live food restaurant, reasonably priced and lovely,
            >Cafe Gratitude, located at 1336 9th Ave, which is near Golden Gate
            >Park. It is also at 2400 Harrison St in SF and 1730 Shattuck Ave in
            >Its web site is at www.CafeGratitude.com. They said that most of their menu
            >is gluten free except for what contained soy sauce. I felt okay after eating
            >their pizza, no stomach complaints nor telling DH symptoms. I would highly
            >recommend them.
            >I went to Eric's, a Chinese restaurant in Noe Valley (Sanchez and 27th) that
            >was recommended. They were not very communicative about the gf, and I was
            >disappointed in this. I was steered away from the mango chicken by the
            >who said that it might have soy sauce. He would not let me talk to the cook
            >or manager (not there he said). I had a cod dish and veggie/tofu with white
            >sauce dishes. I did not get sick, but was turned off to their lack of
            >communication. Would not go back there.
            >I went to Amberjack Sushi, also on 27th and Sanchez. It was fine. My friend
            >insisted on my getting vinegar free rice and they were accomodating. My
            >friend recommends this restaurant for the quality of the sushi.
            >I was told that the Daily Grill at 347 Gearywas accomodating. I went to
            >Buckeye's in Marin. The waiter's mother in law had celiac disease,
            >miraculously, and he was helpful. However, I itched my DH the next day. I
            >eaten simply with salad fish and veggies.

            Eat well and stay healthy!



            1. Two more resources:

              Gluten Free By The Bay

              Celiac Bay Area

              I've found Indian food and Sushi (when I bring my own GF soy sauce) to be the best bets here. Also don't forget the entirely gluten-free restaurant in North Berkeley, Socca Oven (http://www.soccaoven.com/)

              1. TRES AGAVES

                130 Townsend Street (at 2nd)
                San Francisco, CA 94107.
                You can call at 415.227.0500.
                You can fax at 415.227.0535

                I haven’t been yet, but I am going tonight, so I sent them an email. Not only did they email a response saying only the chocolate cake contained flour, but their chef, Alex Moreno, personally called me to discuss my special needs. He was very helpful, and, their kitchen has virtually no flour. I cannot wait for tonight.

                1. I live in SF, and am recently diagnosed celiac. I love to eat out as well as cook for myself -- I find that I am almost unrestricted in what I can make at home, but it's the ingredients that sneak into commercially prepared food that get me. So I'm beginning to more aggressively explore the options when I eat out.

                  As a former long-time restaurant worker, I'm always self conscious about being a "high maintenance" customer, and I've tended to be overly apologetic. But I'm finding that if you are pleasant and patient in your requests, you will be met with the same consideration. It always helps to try to visit off-hours.

                  I tried Rustica today, and it was LOVELY.

                  Also, in SF, Slanted Door (as well as its more casual counterparts, Out the Door) has a comprehensive ingredients list in a looseleaf binder you can ask to look at. The book also has a page explaining the difference between celiac and wheat allergies, which allows the staff can better help you. They list alternates on some of the dishes that are partly off-limits (ie, veg spring rools are ok but the dipping sauce is not, substitute the non-veg dipping sauce).

                  For more "comfort food" fare, Chow also has helpful waitstaff & cooks and a thorough ingredient book.

                  Asquew Grill has a decent ingredient list, but less-informed staff. First visit it seemed there were many options, but it turns out that very few items are ok (almost all meats are pre-marinated in a sauce containing soy sauce. fish is safe though).

                  There is an AMAZING sushi restaurant (Eiji on Sanchez at 16th) that uses wheat-free tamari in most of its dishes (but not all, so do ask) and will bring some to your table for dipping. When I went I also had them double check that the miso was barley-free, and it was (not sure how common that is elsewhere. a lot of storebought miso I've found has barley). The staff were very friendly, and the food delicious. Look for the daily specials, and try their homemade tofu!

                  Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Rainbow, mentioned above, are all good resources. TJ's is a little inconsistent in its published list, but overall has lots of options. In addition to Crave's tasty brownies (the chocolate chip cookie bars are even better), Rainbow carries a gluten-free carrot almond cake made by AG Ferrari foods that is AMAZING (it's not, alas, available online direct from AGF. write to them so it will be! I want celiac relatives in other parts of the country to be able to try it!).

                  Beer -- BevMo has Bard's Tale, and Whole Foods now carries Redbridge! Also, a bar in my neighborhood recently started to carry Redbridge -- Noc Noc (557 Haight between Fillmore and Steiner). A friend who works there ordered it for me (yay!) and the owner decided to keep it in stock -- it is apparently selling pretty well beyond what I am drinking! Also, he says that Samuel Smith (they make an excellent oatmeal stout, if I recall correctly) is releasing a gluten free beer soon, he will be carrying that as well. Next door at Toronado, they do not have any gluten free beer, but the Two Rivers cider that they have is gluten free. Rosamunde sausage grill next door (you can order food and bring it to either of the bars) will serve sausage without a bun, cut up into bitesize pieces. The sausages appear to be safe, but I have not confirmed.

                  Tres Agaves has gooood tequila (and, er, food)!


                  5 Replies
                  1. re: k_b

                    Not sure if they sell at any markets in SF, but Cerise mentioned that Phonix Pastifico sells some pasta made with spelt

                    1. re: rworange

                      Sadly, spelt is not gluten free.


                      But rice flour is, so check out the "Orange-Rice Flour Pancakes with Blueberries (wheat free!)" at Rick & Ann's on Domingo at Ashby in Berkeley.

                      1. re: lexdevil

                        Hi all. There are these cheese breads that I buy at the San Rafael farmer's market that are really good and are gluten-free. They were just reviewed by the NFCA. It's made by the Brazilian Cheese Bread Company (www.braziliancheesebreadco.com) and here's the review:

                        Hope this helps...these breads are really good.

                        1. re: Annie.G

                          Lulu Rae on College Avenue in Rockridge (http://www.lulurae.com/main.htm) also sells this gluten-free (and I believe dairy-free and egg-free as well) mocha almond brownie that I really enjoy. It's not too sweet and is lighter than most brownies. You also get some crunch from the tiny almond bits. I think it's around $2.50-ish. Here's a picture of it, even though it isn't exactly appetizing-looking.

                        2. re: lexdevil

                          I can't believe I didn't know that Rick & Ann's had a GF option! I'm going t here ASAP, THANK YOU!!!

                          Rick & Ann's Restaurant
                          2922 Domingo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705

                    2. We're vegan and I'm gf. We found good food at Greens, Herbivore, Cafe Gratitude, and Millennium. It was easier to find gf at Herbivore and Cafe Gratitude than at the higher priced places. There was another place called Urban something but I don't see it listed on happycow anymore.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: lgss

                        You also might want to try Lettus on Steiner and Chestnut in the marina. Most of their food is organic and they have a lot of vegan and gluten-free options. Everything is clearly labeled. I also recently put up a post about Zadin but I cannot find it anymore. Zadin is on 18th near Castro st and has many gluten free options. It even has gluten free beer!

                      2. Bewitching Elegance make gluten free cakes and will work with people with allergies. Everything they make is custom ordered so you have to call them.

                        1. Pizzeria DePaoli in Windsor has Gluten free pizza all the time, also crackers and pasta to go along with their risottos. Here's a website that is a good resource for gluten free dining. http://www.northbayceliacs.org/dining...

                          1. If you want to splurge. Greens has been one of our long time favorites. We are planning a visit to the Bay Area in the near future with our granddaughter who has Celiac Disease. I e-mailed Greens and was pleased to receive a response from their Executive Chef, Annie Somerville. She confirmed the menu contains gluten free items and advised us to call on the eve of our visit for further info.

                            1. Anyone with a gluten intolerance should definitely check out Zadin in SF. It's Vietnamese food (which we had never had before) and it is AMAZING!!! My boyfriend was able to eat fried calamari for the first time ever, and it more than held its own against its gluten encrusted counterpart. Best meal ever = "Bo Luc Lac – Shaken Beef.
                              Filet mignon cubes, wok-seared medium rare with red onions, scallions, and garlic. Served on a bed of spring mix and topped with yam fries"! You will not be disappointed.

                              4039 18th Street, San Francisco, CA 94114

                              1. I agree about Zadin. As a newly diagnosed celiacs sufferer, Zadin was a miracle to find. an't wait to go back! I had given up on ever eating Calmari again....

                                1. Great news! Yet another gluten free beer available at San Mateo BevMo! (and probably others). Green's Discovery and Endeavor. I recently had Green's Discovery and Quest in Boston at Publik House brewery - fantastic! Just had Endeavor with a pizza from Mariposa Bakery in Oakland. Heaven.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rh0nda

                                    They also have it at Le Trappe in North Beach!! They have the dark one too (Yum!)

                                    La Trappe
                                    800 Greenwich St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                    1. Teacake Bake Shop (www.teacakebakeshop.com) just added a new Gluten-free cupcake which is amazing! It's an almond vanilla cupcake with a swiss meringue buttercream. Locations in Corte Madera, Burlingame, Emeryville, and Layfette.

                                      Teacake Bake Shop
                                      119 Corte Madera Town CT, Corte Madera, CA

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Myriah

                                        Joining Sprinkles and Karas. i will have to try it out.

                                        1. re: jsaimd

                                          Here is a link to a wonderful new GF bakery in Danville.


                                          1. re: jsaimd

                                            You might (definitely) love Taste of Happiness - Heather Gokham does all Gluten Free cupcakes and delivers! She just did mini cupcakes with bourbon frosting for my birthday party and they were amazing!

                                        2. Mariposa Bakery in Oakland is a completely gluten free bakery. All types of bread including bagels and a wide selection of baked goods, cookies, cupcakes, etc...


                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: lucymom

                                            I've never tried it, but I got my wheat-free friend a pizza crust from Mariposa and she has declared it the best gluten-free crust she's tried. She isn't a huge fan of some of the other offerings, like the crumbly hamburger buns, but swears by the pizza crust.

                                            1. re: lucymom

                                              They also have a kiosk in the Ferry Building. I love their crescent cookies and french bread.

                                              1. re: lucymom

                                                Mariposa is surprisingly good. I was on my way to the wine shop next door and noticed they had some samples, went in and tried them, had no idea they were gluten-free until after. None of the usual health-food alternative-ingredient texture or density issues.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  I find Mariposa depends on the product and the taster. I detect a gluten-free flour aftertaste that comes from some sources of bleached GF flours i believe. But others i know can't detect it. I can taste it in a blind taste test (and have done so) so I know it just isn't my imagination. But their stronger flavored items you can't taste that. i think their quick breads are their best products. Their weakest I think are their breads - IMO, but I know others that really like them. Their cupcakes come from Miglets and i like many of Miglets products (their bakery is in Danville). The last taste of cookies I had from zest in San Carlos proved nice too.

                                              2. Check out the Hipp Kitchen:
                                                They have special food events for people with food allergies, including gluten free. It has a NFCA certification as well.

                                                1. Sorry about my previous post everyone! I've moved my blog link to my profile, where it belongs. I live and learn right?

                                                  I want to add that if you go to any nice restaurant in the Bay Area (try to steer clear of Italian and French, though the new Cafe des Amis does have a delicious Tripe dish that's GF), they'll mostly understand celiac disease and try their best to work around gluten intolerance though you might want to make sure if they do any cross contamination.

                                                  Raw food (Alive! Cafe Gratitude, is mostly gluten free - the use all gluten free grains (except for wheat berries and kamut).

                                                  Lastly! Ethiopian restaurants are great for people on a GF diet. They use teff to make pancakes (completely GF) and they're known for awesome vegetarian food (as well as awesome meat centric food - both sides of the coin!)

                                                  5 Replies
                                                  1. re: karmicoma

                                                    Very few bay area Ethiopian restaurants use 100% teff in their bread. Most use wheat and/or Barley in addition so they are NOT GF.

                                                    1. re: jsaimd

                                                      Good to know! The one I went to was "Ethiopian Restaurant" in Berkeley (on telegraph and ashby) and they told me that it was gluten-free.

                                                    2. re: karmicoma

                                                      We went to Moya in SF where they do have completely GF injera bread and my kids actually preferred the 100% teff to the regular injera. overall good, although they skimped on the spice due to the kids and i wish they hadn't. Their braised lamb was fantastic.

                                                      1. re: karmicoma

                                                        I believe Cafe Colucci in Berkeley is 100% teff. I have nothing against gluten, but their injera is my favorite.

                                                        Cafe Colucci
                                                        6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          I called Cafe Colucci once and they said it was not 100% teff. I wish I could have gluten - it would make life easier!

                                                          Cafe Colucci
                                                          6427 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

                                                      2. Amici's has a bunch of locations that offer gluten-free menus (crusts from Still Riding Pizza) -- the Lombard St. location in SF is one of them. It's the best gluten-free pizza I've found, and I've been actively trying every option I've heard about in the Bay Area.

                                                        Many crepe places work for gluten-free if they offer a pure buckwheat batter. I don't live in SF, so haven't asked at places like Ti Couz, but a traditional savory crepe recipe doesn't have wheat. In Palo Alto, I like Bistro Maxine best.

                                                        Pica Pica in the Mission (original location in Napa's Oxbow Public Market) has outstanding gluten-free food (the whole menu, I believe, is GF).

                                                        Oxbow Public Market
                                                        610 First Street, Napa, CA 94559

                                                        Bistro Maxine
                                                        548 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: Cialti

                                                          Ti Couz is not 100% buckwheat. Is Bistro Maxine?

                                                          Bistro Maxine
                                                          548 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                          1. re: jsaimd

                                                            Yes, I confirmed with Bistro Maxine that their buckwheat batter has no wheat flour and is gluten free.

                                                            Bistro Maxine
                                                            548 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                            1. re: Cialti

                                                              i just talked to Bistro Maxine and they said their crepes use both wheat flour and buckwheat flour, but you can request a gluten-free crepe. Also checked in SF at Butler and the Chef. The very French chef is obviously not from Brittany, as he exclaimed "If I used all buckwheat they would taste like rocks!" I guess my love of buckwheat is unique!

                                                              Bistro Maxine
                                                              548 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                              1. re: jsaimd

                                                                I just had the gluten free "crepe" at Bistro Maxine, which isn't their buckwheat batter at all. In fact it was the worst attempt at gluten free cooking ever. I don' t mind when places try but fail, but they just stuck some tapioca flour on the griddle which ended up with a plate full of a 1/4 inch thick undercooked glop. I kid you not. It was pretty gross and frankly an insult to folks with Celiac to think we are that desperate that we will eat anything that is "gluten-free". Anyway, I did suggest to them that they re-explore the buckwheat batter for GF. The waiter was nice, and said the recipes all came from their French owner? and they just trusted him. I had to chuckle because in France the creperies owned by folks from Brittany seemed offended that we asked if they added wheat flour! Anyway, they were nice, but did not take anything off the bill. The filling was described as spinach mushrooms and tomatoes, which I expected to have some carmelization, but instead were just steamed. Overall pretty poor experience, but it is just commentary on their gluten-free crepe. I didn't try their normal variety. However, the filling was pretty subpar too... too bad.

                                                                Bistro Maxine
                                                                548 Ramona St, Palo Alto, CA 94301

                                                          1. This is a really great blog for gluten free recipes, restaurants, and products in San Francisco: http://www.gfinsf.com