This Gluten-free San Diego #nimatested guide is brought to you by Christina Kantzavelos, Nima community member and gluten-free travel blogger. Check out Christina’s Breaking Bread post where she talks about navigating her globetrekker life with her Nima.
San Diego, also known as America’s Finest City is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Balboa Park, Legoland, Sea World, La Jolla, beaches, boardwalks, state parks and much more. It’s a never-ending summer paradise, complete with a never-ending amount of things to do and places to eat. Luckily for you, this guide has Nima tested and tasted the best gluten-free and celiac spots throughout the city and county of San Diego, so that you can enjoy San Diego’s best-of’s with a belly full of delicious food the entire time.
#nimatested Dishes: Chicken Sandwich
Notes: This cafe is low-key, healthy and sweet. It’s 100% gluten-free, with many paleo, vegetarian and vegan options. They use all organic and local ingredients, and have a micro-market inside with packaged or ready-made foods. It was here, that I ate the BEST cinnamon roll I’ve ever tasted (see photo). It truly rivaled Cinnabon (and I wouldn’t joke about that). They also have great sandwiches, bowls and other light meals.
#nimatested Dishes:Chicken and Waffles & Cinnamon Roll
Notes: This is Health Creation’s sister restaurant. Although the menu is different, it’s just as delicious. They are also 100% gluten-free, with paleo, and vegan options. Once again, they attempt to use all organic and locally sourced items. Breakfast is served all day (as it should be), and you can get anything from chicken and waffles, eggs benedict, to a poke bowl or paleo pizza. Did I mention that the chicken is crusted with plantain flour?
#nimatested Dishes: Short Stack
Notes: We are happy to have such a gem in east county, especially around the corner from the Mission Trails Regional Parks hikes. The owner has her own diet restrictions, including gluten, and goes above and beyond to prevent cross contamination. They have an entire gluten-free section on their menu, and if dairy doesn’t bother you, then you can’t leave without trying their cinnamon roll pancakes. I went with the regular stack of pancakes, which are scrumptious. They also offer sandwich bread, and great dessert options.
#nimatested Dishes: Chocolate Chip Cookie and Chocolate Doughnut
Notes: This wholesaler makes great gluten-free treats, bread, doughnuts, bagels, cakes, eclairs, crepe batter, and more that can be found all around San Diego, such as in BCB cafe, Communal Coffee, Holy Matcha, The Crown Plaza Hotel, SoleLuna Cafe, The Manhattan La Jolla, Gelato Vero, Hawthorn Coffee, The Hyatt Manchester, and James Place Sushi. Whew! The list goes on. They also make amazing wedding cakes. In addition, you can contact the owner ahead of time if you want to order straight from the bakery, and pick up, or have them deliver to your hotel. It should be noted that I tested at their (100% gluten-free) facility, and they can’t guarantee their products are free from cross-contamination at the locations their products are offered. This is why I recommend carrying toaster bags and a Nima sensor with you at all times.
#nimatested Dishes: Fried Rice, Brain Food and Mango Sticky Rice
Notes: When eating at Saffron, the question asked is “what items do contain gluten?” This restaurant’s staff is informed on Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance, as well as soy avoidance. They also have plenty of vegan options to choose from. When I inquired about certain ingredients, the manager physically looked at the ingredients and showed it to me. They go above and beyond to accommodate, and to create healthy, and tasty Thai food.
#nimatested Dishes: Vanilla Cupcake
Notes: A dedicated top 10 allergy-free restaurant in San Diego, that is 100% gluten-free. Their wide assortment of delicious goods are baked fresh everyday, and their bread is phenomenal. You literally can’t taste a difference according to my gluten-eating counterparts. Their pastries are also pretty amazing, and it’s nice to know you’re safe, especially since they do not allow any outside food or drinks inside the facility.
Location: (Throughout San Diego)
#nimatested Dishes: Pavona Pistachio Cake
Notes: This wholesaler makes makes the most amazing mini tea/ bundt cakes, and thankfully they are sold around San Diego, such as at Kettle & Stone, Cafe Mingei, Better Buzz, Achilles Coffee Roaster, Meraki, Grants Marketplace, Royal Food Mart, Living Room and more. They also make breads and cookies, and you can pick up directly from them with a 48 hour notice. It should be noted that I tested at Kettle & Stone, who keeps their cakes in a separate area. Pavona can’t guarantee their products are free from cross-contamination at restaurants and cafes that offer their product. This is why I recommend carrying toaster bags with you, and Nima sensor on you at all times.
#nimatested Dishes: Pesto Sandwich with Cashew Cheese
Notes: An organic, non-gmo cafe right across the street from the beach, in northern San Diego. Nearly everything is gluten-free, except for a few beers and two different breads. But no need to worry, because they offer not one, but four types of breads. The owner has her own intolerances, including wheat, and her employees are educated on Celiac and gluten intolerance.I love their sandwiches here, and that’s what I tested. They also offer some amazing desserts.
#nimatested Dishes: Matcha Waffles and Blondie Bar
Notes: A super cute and relatively new cafe in La Jolla. They offer everything from bowls, to tumeric lattes, to matcha waffles, with many gluten-free options. In addition to being very ‘instagrammable,’ the food is organic, light, healthy and delicious.
#nimatested Dishes: Pineapple Basil Sorbet Gelato and GF Waffle Cone
Notes: This adorable gelato spot took over what use to be an actual dry cleaners, leaving lots of room for food puns (i.e. Cones not Clothes… cue knee slap). They have both dairy and non-dairy options, all of which are delicious. They also recently introduced the first and only in-house made gluten-free waffle cone, that is just yum. They do not have any loose flour in the kitchen, so you know you’re safe. Always small batch, they use local ingredients, and this place is a neighborhood hotspot for good reason.
#nimatested Dishes: Gluten-free Rosemary Focaccia Bread and Custom Gluten-free Pasta
Notes: Chic Italian fare offered in the hip Liberty Station shopping district. The executive chef is Sicilian and makes fresh gluten-free rosemary bread everyday, allowing you to indulge in warm, GF table bread before your meal. They also make their own pizza crust, and offer gluten-free pastas (they made me a custom pasta to accommodate my low-histamine diet). They take extra care to train and educate their employees regarding food allergies and intolerances and take many necessary precautions to avoid any cross-contamination. True Italian food that you can feel safe eating. Molto buono!
The Nima App
Note: As with all our guides, always use precaution when dining out. The ingredients or staff can be different day by day and a Nima test does not guarantee the whole plate. Bring your Nima along with extra capsules and always let Nima take the first bite!