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Gluten-Free Guide to San Diego

A Gluten-Free Globetrotter Guide to Gluten-Free in San Diego

San Diego is one of my favorite West Coast cities. Having family and friends that live near San Diego has a lot to do with it, but so does the proximity to the beach, the blue skies, and the palm trees. Our most recent visit was in December and far too short. It also got a little rainy but we made the best of it! Putting together this Gluten-free Guide to San Diego makes me want to go back for a longer trip.

As usual, I had a list of gluten-free friendly places to eat longer than the number of actual meals I could consume in a 4-day trip. I’ve gotten a ton of requests for this list over the past few weeks, so please accept my apologies it has taken so long. This gluten-free guide will also include gluten-free suggestions based on my two most recent trips to San Diego.

Please note, not every restaurant on this Gluten-Free Guide to San Diego is 100% gluten-free. There are many places with shared kitchens. I tried to include what I ate and the questions I asked in order to give you a better idea how to navigate. Mexican food is abundant in San Diego, but you always need to ask if the chips and tortillas are made in a dedicated fryer. If you are in doubt, skip them!

Table of Contents

Where I stayed: December 2022

We stayed in the cutest and most family-friendly Airbnb that I have ever stayed in near Mission Bay/Pacific Beach. We had full intentions of using the kitchen but actually never did except to make sandwiches. Let me tell you that if you are a parent of a toddler, find a family-friendly house to stay in. It makes you worry a little less, plus new toys keep your kid occupied. We loved our little house and would definitely stay there again.

Where I stayed: February 2020

This was our first experience of staying at an Airbnb with a kiddo. He was just learning to walk and I didn’t really take into account that nothing would be baby friendly for a wobbly almost one-year-old. (Pointy table corners at eye-height are scary!) That said, the location was perfect for us. It was right in Hillcrest which is one of my favorite San Diego neighborhoods. You could easily walk to Better Buzz coffee which is my favorite San Diego coffee shop.

Where I Ate Gluten-Free: December 2022

In-N-Out Burger
Multiple locations

No trip to California is complete without a stop at In-N-Out Burger. This was actually our first stop after getting our rental car! My order is usually the Double-Double with onion protein style which means the bun is replaced with lettuce. The fries are also gluten-free since they are made in a dedicated GF fryer. Here is the allergen menu from In-In-Out. This restaurant is not dedicated gluten-free.

Cocina de Barrio 
3707 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92104/

We were looking for some authentic Mexican food so after a few online searches I happened upon Cocina de Barrio in Hillcrest. This restaurant is not dedicated gluten-free, nor was it on the FindMeGF app, but the menu looked mostly gluten-free and I was prepared with my usual questions. As soon as we got there, my husband started asking questions for me in Spanish. (He is my best translator and advocate!) The waiter was very helpful and walked me through everything on the menu. I had to stay away from some mole/sauces but almost everything on the menu could be prepared gluten-free or was naturally gluten-free. Bonus was the gorgeous margarita!

Snooze, an A.M. Eatery
3940 Fifth Ave., San Diego, CA 92103
8861 Villa La Jolla Dr, San Diego, CA 92037

Snooze is one of my favorite breakfast restaurants ever. I have been here multiple times at both San Diego locations. They have an extensive breakfast menu and bottomless coffee. When we arrived at the Hillcrest location and I asked about gluten-free, the waiter asked “Are you Celiac?” YES! I love places that get it from the beginning. I already knew what I wanted from my last visit so I ordered the Spuds Deluxe which is a HUGE pile of hash browns, covered with melted cheddar cheese & jack cheese, scallions plus choice of two fillings. I chose bacon, spinach and scrambled eggs. The next day, we went back to the La Jolla location and I opted for the 3-egg scramble with a side of corn tortillas.

Please note: This is a chain restaurant with 37 locations across the United States. I have only been to two of the San Diego locations. As with any restaurant, especially chain restaurants, be sure to ask lots of questions about the gluten-free options. Just because you ate safely at one location doesn’t mean you will get the same results everywhere. This restaurant is not dedicated gluten-free.

Solare Ristorante Italiano
2820 Roosevelt Road, Liberty Station, Point Loma, San Diego, CA 92106

To be honest, this was the meal I was most nervous about during our trip but it turned out to be our best meal. I was nervous because Italian restaurants aren’t always the most celiac-friendly. Our friends from Escondido wanted to meet for lunch and suggested Liberty Station. This was an area of San Diego that I had never been before and I was excited to explore. The first thing I did was go go the Solare website to check out the menu. The website said:

“vegetarian and gluten-free options available upon request ~ please notify your server if you have any food allergies ~ consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness ~ to ensure that any food allergies managed correctly, the Solare team works to prepare dishes with the right ingredients, and each customer or guardian must also check with the server at the time the dish is served to ensure any ingredients that need to be avoided are not on the plate”

Ok, this made me feel a little bit better. I then went to the FindMeGlutenFree app to see what others were saying. I then contacted the restaurant directly asking if they could provide a safe gluten-free meal for someone with celiac disease. They said they would walk me through the menu and that is exactly what they did! The waiter was fantastic and basically helped me put together a meal that would be prepared safely and separately. I wanted Bolognese sauce but he said it was prepared next to meatballs with gluten and wouldn’t be safe. I ended up with gluten-free pasta primavera with grilled chicken and a side of gluten-free bread. The wine was flowing and the visit with our friends was wonderful. Plus, the restaurant and service were lovely. This restaurant is not dedicated gluten-free.

Bottlecraft at Liberty Public Market
2820 Historic Decatur Rd., San Diego, California

After our late lunch at Solare, we strolled over to the Liberty Public Market. I love markets like this with a ton of food vendors and something for everyone. My family wanted dessert and I opted to get a gluten-free beer for dessert. Bottlecraft is tucked in the back of the market and has a decent selection of gluten-free bottled beer and cider. I had never tried Holidaily before so that was my choice. I think my favorite part of the night was sitting outside in the wooden boat with my family and friends enjoying the December evening. Such a nice way to end the evening.

Gluten-free Holidaily Craft Beer in front of refrigerator of cider, mead, and gluten-free beer

Sprouts Farmers Market
Multiple locations

Our first night in San Diego, we picked up some food from Sprouts so we could make sandwiches for the days we were on the go. They had a decent gluten-free section but OMG were they expensive! I am used to NYC prices and Sprouts was almost double. I honestly cannot bring myself to pay $14 for a loaf of gluten-free bread. I found the least expensive GF bread and found gluten-free deli turkey and cheese. I’ve also always loved that you can buy wine in the supermarket in California, so I got some cans to go. This is a novelty that I will never get used to as a New Yorker. I think I would opt for Von’s or Grocery Outlet over Sprouts though since they are both easier on the wallet!

Where I Ate Gluten-Free: February 2020

San Diego in February 2020 was our last trip before the world changed forever. Our neighbor during this stay definitely had COVID and we didn’t know it yet. Little did we know at the time that this would be our last trip for a VERY long time.

El Tianguis
2810 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104

Ok, I didn’t actually eat here during this trip but did when we were in San Diego in February 2020. I wish I made it back this past trip and was bummed we didn’t have enough time. This restaurant had been recommended by multiple people because it is a completely gluten-free restaurant. Even their website says: TODO SIN GLUTEN! (Everything without gluten!) This restaurant specializes in rolled tacos also known as taquitos. I honestly think we went back and ordered twice more because we couldn’t get enough. There are three locations around San Diego and you need to add this place to your list. This restaurant is dedicated gluten-free.

Starry Lane Bakery
3925 4th Ave., San Diego, CA 92103

This is a dedicated top ten allergen free bakery. As someone with celiac disease and a child with a peanut allergy, this is the kind of place that puts you at ease. We also didn’t make it here on our most recent trip, but stocked up on our 2020 trip. They are famous for their gluten-free pretzel rolls so be sure to pre-order some for your trip home! The best thing about a bakery like Starry Lane is the full transparency. They will answer all questions and understand if you have additional allergies. A few items contained oats, so I avoided those but everything else was fair game! This bakery is dedicated gluten-free.

Las Hadas Bar and Grill|
558 Fourth Ave., San Diego, CA 92101

This is another restaurant from our 2020 trip and is conveniently located in downtown San Diego. I originally discovered this restaurant through the FindMeGlutenFree app and then contacted them directly after looking at their online gluten-free menu. It is important to note that all deep-fried foods including regular chips, french fries, wings and cilantro rice are NOT made in a dedicated fryer and will have cross-contamination. They actually have an “a la cart Celiac taco” on the menu so that is what I ordered. They also brought me a separate plate of tortilla chips made separately in a pan!! How awesome is that?! From what I remember, someone in the family has celiac disease which is why they are so aware of gluten-free for celiac. This restaurant is not completely gluten-free.

The Gluten Free Baking Co.
594 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92116

When I went here in February 2020, they had just opened their doors. It was a bit out of the way, but we managed to go and try some of their gluten-free treats. If you want something specific, I suggest ordering ahead of time. They now have a second location in San Diego too and offer in-person gluten-free baking classes. This bakery is dedicated gluten-free.

Barrio Star
2706 5th Ave, San Diego, CA 92103

Another day, another Mexican restaurant which is totally fine by me. Our friends picked this place so I was a bit nervous but quickly cross checked their menu along with FindMeGlutenFree. Gluten-free was clearly marked on the menu but I also asked multiple questions when the waitress arrived. The chips were not gluten-free due to a shared fryer. It’s always important to ask before you dig into the chip basket! If you want something crunchy, ask the waitstaff to heat up some of their gluten-free corn tortillas in a separate pan. Some restaurants will even fry up a separate batch in a pan if you ask nicely.

The Brazilian Guys Food Stand
Multiple locations

Ok, I admit that I never made it to The Brazilian Guys but they have been on my gluten-free food wish list for years now. I was so disappointed that it got so rainy at the end of our last trip and I never made it there. They basically make sandwiches using pressed hash browns as the bread. Picture this: bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich on crispy hash brown buns. Yes, please! You can find the Brazilian Guys on Saturdays and Sundays at various farmers markets. Check their website for details!

100% Gluten-Free in San Diego

Here is a list of dedicated gluten-free restaurants and bakeries in San Diego and the surrounding area that I found on the FMGF app. I have indicated with an asterisk the place I have personally been to and eaten at. I have also saved all of my recommendations in this FindMeGlutenFree collection list, a new feature on the app for premium subscribers*!

  • El Tianguis*
  • Starry Lane Bakery*
  • The Gluten-Free Baking Company*
  • Choice Juicery
  • Northside Shack – North Park
  • Peace Pies
  • Trilogy Sanctuary
  • Paleo Treats
  • Sweetfion
  • Kula Ice Cream
  • Elixir Juice and Food
  • Nectarine Grove Cafe & Bakehouse
  • Healthy Creations
  • Nectarine Grove
  • Deanna’s Gluten Free Bakery
  • Fresh N Go
  • Plantiful Kitchen
  • Island Girl Bakes

* Not yet a FindMeGlutenFree Premium Subscriber, use coupon code GFGLOBETROTTER for $5 off a year of a premium subscription. (affiliate link)

Gluten-Free Globetrotter Map of San Diego

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