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visiting san francisco- gluten and lactose intolerant

Hello,

We will be visiting San Francisco staying in the Fisherman's Wharf area. we are a 30-something couple with a five year old.

We love trying new cuisines and all eat fish but other than that prefer predominantly vegetarian fare. I have recently become lactose and gluten intolerant making eating out more difficult but not impossible.

I was thinking of Saha as one option but was hoping the SF chowers could recommend some great options as well. Our five year old is well behaved and has an adventurous palate. We will have a car.

Merci!

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  1. Right up my alley! I have these same issues too. In general, restaurants in SF are very accommodating of allergy requests, but here are my picks:

    Saha is great and highly recommended if you think your son/daughter will like that style of food.
    Gracias Madre, in the Mission, is excellent vegan (so no dairy) Mexican food, and the menu is 90% gluten free.
    Dosa is a great Indian place with two locations (Fillmore and Valencia), pretty inexpensive, and again very GF-friendly.
    Plant Cafe on Embarcadero is also great, mostly vegetarian with some fish, and menu items are labeled for dairy-free/gluten-free.

    Good luck!

    -----
    Saha Arabic Fusion Restaurant
    1075 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Dosa on Fillmore
    1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

    Plant Cafe
    Pier 3, San Francisco, CA

    Gracias Madre
    2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

    1. I'm lactose intolerant too. Fraiche on Fillmore makes a soy frozen yogurt that I love, though I am not sure of its GF status. I tend towards eating Asian food out as it is generally lactose free, but I realize that can be problematic for GF, so I will defer to those wiser than I.

      If you're not from a major metropolitan area, you may also have fun in Whole Foods (or Rainbow) - no kidding. There's a whole aisle of dairy free frozen desserts that I never seem to find anywhere else. Also, check out Green Valley Organics in Andronico's dairy aisle (WF sadly stopped carrying it) - lactose free real milk kefir and yogurt.

      3 Replies
      1. re: artemis

        The soy yogurt is GF. Fraiche has an allergy sheet on their website.

        However, you can eat well in San Francisco. Do you need completely dairy free or just low lactose? If the latter you are even better off.

        I can't say I love it, but my Celiac son loves it - Amici's has gluten free pizza and dairy free cheese.

        In the Ferry Building you can get gluten free bread at Mariposa. I like their quick breads the most and some are dairy free. I am too picky about gluten free breads.

        For treats, XXX truffles has gluten free dairy free almond truffles which are very good, and Scream sorbet is a must for gluten-free indulgent sorbets. Available at the Thursday Ferry Building market I believe and at their store front in Oakland.

        South Indian is a natural match - I near the south bay where South Indian is wonderful so I haven't eaten at Dosa, but would recommend the general genre.

        Poc Chuc would work well too for some great Mexican food. Their black beans are gluten free, and you can easily skip the small amounts of cotija cheese. At the Ferry Building on Saturday Primavera would also work - I have had many dishes sans dairy.

        Really, you should just search the board for food choices wihtout the gluten/dairy restriction. If you post back with your choices we can chime in on whether it is gluten/lactose intolerant friendly. Most are - I certainly don't limit myself. Exceptions are Chinese food at most places, and certain other Asian cuisines that use soy sauce ubiquitously. For Vietnamese-ish, I have had slanted door which has some fish or veggie dishes which can be ADAPTED to be gluten-free. Also, there is a Vietnamese place in the Castro that has a gluten-free menu, although it is mostly fried.

        Fish is easy too. Tadich Grill or other simple seafood places are wonderful.

        -----
        Tadich Grill
        240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        Poc Chuc
        2886 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

        1. re: jsaimd

          SD is very nice about accommodating. They made a few special dishes for a friend a few years ago who is fish-allergic (no fish sauce). Unlike smaller, less tourist oriented places where you might or might not make yourself understood in english.

          1. re: bbulkow

            For the OP - SD is Slanted Door. Yes almost everything on their menu has gluten, but they are very good with accomodating where they can and i had plenty to choose from. They are reportedly good with avoiding cross-contamination, but you sometimes miss a bit of the dish in the adaptation when restaurants have to do that.

            Recently dined at French Laundry and while they have come light years since the last time I dined there in terms of accommodating gluten free diets, they still leave components out of dishes instead of serving a different dish. I don't really blame them - it isn't easy to deal with food allergy issues, but in some cases you could tell that there was a piece missing.

            In most cases I choose dishes that are inherently gluten free. I always ask my servers here in the Bay Area to let me know if there are substantial changes that must be made, so I can just order something else if the change is substantial enough

            -----
            Slanted Door
            Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

            The French Laundry
            6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

      2. If you have any plans to get to Berkeley, Gather is a great spot for you. Really great food, at least half of it is vegetarian, and the menu tells you anything that is gluten free. Not far from the Downtown Berkeley BART station and there's parking nearby (though, as in SF, parking in Berkeley can be challenging sometimes, but there's a pay lot not far).

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        Gather
        2200 Oxford Street, Berkeley, CA 94704

        1. Asian cuisines are generally good for gluten-free items, alhtough not necessarily meat free.

          When my celiac friend visited a while back though, we went to Pagolac, which she really enjoyed, and they have quite a few good fish dishes.

          -----
          Pagolac
          655 Larkin St, San Francisco, CA 94109

          1 Reply
          1. re: vulber

            Personally, I find Asian restaurants (particularly Chinese, Vietnamese, etc.) challenging because soy sauce has wheat in it, and I have a hard time finding vegetarian dishes without soy sauce that still taste good. Thai can be easier, though.

          2. If you are coming to the East Bay, Mariposa Bakery might be worth a stop.
            http://www.mariposabaking.com/

            1. thanks so much for all the great information. keep it coming!

              We live in Minneapolis and have lived in NYC and Philly previously so are very familiar with Wholefoods, co-ops, etc.

              Saha, Dosa, Gracias Madre all sound wonderful ( and menus and reviews look good too). We will also try Fraiche for the yogurt and Slanted Door ( lunch defeinitely seems better priced!). I think French Laundry is beyond our price pint or rather better saved for a trip when we are not travelling with our daughter ( rare but Grandma does occassionally babysit for a week!).

              XXX truffles and scream sorbet aready have my mouth watering.

              I will do some more chowhound searching , try and put together some foodie/sightseeing itineraries and update later. Merci again! Would love any other advice.

              -----
              Slanted Door
              Ferry Slip, San Francisco, CA 94111

              The French Laundry
              6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

              Gracias Madre
              2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

              3 Replies
              1. re: ramekin

                Another potentially interesting idea - La Ciccia. Sardinian food traditionally uses very little dairy, if any, so they should have no trouble coming up with lovely lactose free food. Of course, the GF hitch would eliminate pasta, but I would imagine that their whole roasted fish and daily veggie would be GF friendly and still fabulous.

                -----
                La Ciccia
                291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

                1. re: artemis

                  We usually don't have a problem eating at the Italian restaurants in the city but we are not vegetarian. I tend to eat fish if it is available, so if you are OK with 1-2 options then you can do well with Italian or similar in the city.

                2. re: ramekin

                  It'd XOX Truffles (just wanted add correct name so you can locate it).

                  -----
                  XOX Truffles
                  754 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                3. One major change in plans: no car, will be relying on MUNI to get around. hotel is in 'Marina' district.

                  plan so far:

                  arrive feb 19th (sat)
                  go to chinatown for new year's parade
                  Dinner at Jai Yun

                  feb 20th (sun)
                  pier 39. watch sea lions
                  lunch??
                  dinner at Plant cafe

                  feb 21st (mon)
                  exploratorium
                  lunch??
                  dinner @ Dosa on Fillmore

                  feb 22nd (tue)
                  Golden gate park, California academy of sciences
                  lunch??
                  Dinner @ Saha

                  feb 23rd- time for breakfast only.

                  any recommendations for lunch/ suggested changes, etc? I am not sure how convenient it is going to be to get to any of the 'treat' ( sorbet, chocos)places but would love to if we can.

                  -----
                  Jai Yun
                  680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                  Dosa on Fillmore
                  1700 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: ramekin

                    If you're going to Dosa, you're a stone's throw from Fraiche. I am probably overhyping this but Fraiche is the only frozen "yogurt" I can eat and I love it so. Get one of their fresh fruit purees on top - I prefer the olallieberry.

                    Do you have a Cantonese (or is it Mandarin?) speaker? I wonder how GF Jai Yun will be, though it will probably be lactose-free. I would be surprised if the meal I had at Jai Yun was GF.

                    How about Marnee Thai for lunch after the Academy - you won't even need to repark, and there should be some good GF options.

                    Lunch at the wharf - does "all fish" include crustaceans? Consider going to Alioto's stand and get some fresh, local steamed dungeness crab and lots of fresh lemon.

                    -----
                    Jai Yun
                    680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                    Alioto's Restaurant
                    8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    Marnee Thai Restaurant
                    1243 9th Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122

                    1. re: artemis

                      Artemis- thansk so much!

                      Ok, dosa followed by dessert @ Fraiche.

                      No mandarin/cantonese speaker- the gluten is a mild ( albeit occ. worse) intolerance the lactose a big no- no so I was hoping that I should be ok?

                      Marnee thai looks good and I've read several places mention Alioto's but was not sure if it was all hype but I think we will have to give it a try!!

                      -----
                      Alioto's Restaurant
                      8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

                      1. re: ramekin

                        I know very little about hidden gluten, but I would bet that my Jai Yun meal was lactose free. I'll also note that my table found the portions (of truly delicious food) a bit small - the talented chef seems good at cooking appropriate portions for even numbers of diners (4, 6, 8), but we had a table of 7 and it seemed like we received the right amount of food for 6, not 7. The food was delicious, but you may be a bit snacky after, depending on your appetite size.

                        I've never been to Alioto's but it does seem like a good place to get fresh, local cooked, cracked Dungeness while you're over gawking at the (stinky) sea lions.

                        -----
                        Jai Yun
                        680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        Alioto's Restaurant
                        8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    2. re: ramekin

                      If you aren't too worried about gluten than perhaps Jai Yun would work, but I always find Chinese especially difficult. Beyond soy sauce many of the sauces used in cooking contain gluten, often wihtout the chefs knowing (like fermented bean paste). It depends on the brand used.

                      If you want on Sunday you can jump in to Canteen for a late breakfast. I believe they are open on Sunday and a very easy Muni ride or nice stroll. I am usually full enough from their brunch for lunch. Townsend is also not hard to get to.

                      Near GG park, there is also Chow which has solid food and is gluten-free allergy friendly. That will be a full day. My kids would live at GG park if they could (we are there a lot).

                      If you are open to the BART, then that will get you into the mission - easy walk to good Mexican food from BART stops. Also in the mission is Bi-Rite, from which you can get many Bay Area culinary delights. My kids love to go grab ice cream (or sorbet in your case) from Bi-rite creamery and eat play at Mission Dolores park.

                      -----
                      Jai Yun
                      680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                      Mission Dolores
                      3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA

                      1. re: jsaimd

                        With gluten and lactose intolerant friends, I go to Thai for Asian food since they rarely use soy sauce/wheat - rather use fish sauce with no wheat/gluten. Lots of good Thai places on these boards . . . And of course Mexican food!

                      2. re: ramekin

                        I don't think Jai Yun is a good idea for you. There is a significant language barrier, and they serve a multi-course chef's tasting menu. Each time I have gone, one course has been a textured wheat protein fake meat, which I think is about as bad as you can get if you are gluten intolerant. We often don't even know what we're eating, because the server doesn't know the English words to describe it. An adventure for me, maybe a nightmare for you.

                        -----
                        Jai Yun
                        680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        1. re: SteveG

                          ?other recs for Chinatown appreciated!!

                          1. re: SteveG

                            I had not realized Jai Yun is prix fixe only. And with all the language issues I've been reading about I agree it would not be a good idea for us. How about lucky creation vegetarian restaurant in chinatown? I know they do a lot of faux gluten stuff but I've read reviews of them being accomodating to gf/sensitive clients?

                            -----
                            Jai Yun
                            680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                            1. re: ramekin

                              I'm sorry, but gluten free is really not on my radar. I just know I've specifically had gluten-featuring dishes at Jai Yun. We had some recent posts here on CH that Jai Yun has hired front of house staff with good English, so it may still be an option. Lunch may be more a la carte. If you are interested in going, call them up to see what kind of menu they can do. If their knowledge and responsiveness is good, then go--otherwise don't rely on reviews on the web to make your decision.

                              -----
                              Jai Yun
                              680 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                        2. was hoping to get some good 'mexican' ( I am using the term generically and do not mean to offend anyone!) as well but Gracias Madre as yummy as it sounds might be too much of a hike by MUNI for us. Hmmm.

                          -----
                          Gracias Madre
                          2211 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110