There’s never been a dietary trend as longstanding and marketable as gluten-free in the history of the United States. Statista predicts that by 2032, gluten-free products are projected to reach a valuation of $14 billion in U.S. dollars, which is more than twice the 2022 market value. That popularity is well-met in the Bay Area’s dining scene with a huge array of cafes, bakeries, and restaurants offering entirely gluten-free and celiac-friendly menus or stellar options for those looking to leave the gluey protein on the side. There’s Xica, an entirely gluten-free Mexican restaurant in Levi’s Plaza, and there’s Shalimar, a Tenderloin Indian and Pakistani restaurant so delicious it brings tears to diners' eyes. Any of these 14 restaurants are a fine choice for the gluten-free diner in your life.Read More
The 14 Restaurants in San Francisco Changing the Narrative for Gluten-Free Diners
A guide to eating without the wheat-ing
Maria Elena Esquivel and her husband Ignacio Perez opened the doors to Xica, a sprawling homage to both their family and the future of dining — otherwise known as accessibility-focused options. Everything here is gluten-free and numerous items can be made vegan and vegetarian. Try the crispy flautas.
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Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
While pizza probably isn't the first thing you think of when you're looking for a gluten-free meal, the good news is that tons of San Francisco pizza places have figured out it's something customers really want. That being said, of all the restaurants doing it, there's no doubt that Tony's does it the best. In addition, Tony's takes the preparation of its gluten-free pies very seriously, though it does caution there may be a chance of cross contamination.
For those in search of an upscale dining experience in the FiDi while still allowing for gluten-free eating, look no further than Estiatorio Ornos. Living at the intersection of Egyptian and Greek cuisines, the menu here includes rich lamb hummus, an entire cart of fish (the ocean’s nod toward gluten-sensitive eaters), and top-brass cocktails including the mighty God of Olympus.
Roam Artisan Burgers
Even the gluten-free eaters deserve a soft, pillowy bun. Lots of burger spots around town offer to swap in lettuce leaves, but Roam respects the craving: Every burger on the menu is available on a gluten-free bun, and the veggie burgers are gluten-free, too.
Presidio Heights' all-day cafe As Quoted is all about gluten-free everything, including the toast, topped with banana or avocado, which is made daily with sorghum and multigrain flours, honey, eggs, and avocado oil. For bigger portions, get the chicken bone broth.
Shalimar is a San Francisco favorite, with even District 5 Supervisor Dean Preston including the Tenderloin outpost in his standard lunch options. As Touta Baher wrote in Broke-Ass Stuart, “everything about this place just screams good vibes and positivity.” The mini-chain has served juicy lamb, goat karahi, and indulgent paneer for nearly 30 years.
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Bella Trattoria Italiana
It's pretty much impossible to find an Italian restaurant that serves amazing gluten-free pasta, but Bella Trattoria, a charming and authentic restaurant in the Inner Richmond, is doing just that. Though Bella makes its pasta in-house, it does buy its gluten-free quinoa alternative. However, it's the sauces, like arrabbiata, puttanesca, and salsiccia, that are the real heroes of the dishes, so one truly doesn't mind. If you really need an Italian dish that's made in-house though, there are also a couple of gluten-free gnocchi dishes that also knock it out of the park.
A dedicated gluten-free, vegan, low glycemic index, and generally delicious bakery, Wholesome is the passion project of Mandy Harper. Creating recipes to serve her own dietary needs, she founded her operation in 2009, opening a brick-and-mortar location of her own in January 2018 to keep up with demand. Harper just opened for dinner, too, so expect even more sensitivity-centered deliciousness.
This favorite Nepalese restaurant relies on lots of rice and lentils, and much of the menu is naturally gluten free — as well as clearly marked as such. Crispy pakora and kale chaat, plated dishes of thali and tandoori, and all of the house specials and curries are fair game.
A former McDonald's space transformed into a gluten-free, paleo-friendly, healthy dining establishment? That's inspirational enough to attract plenty of better-eating converts, who come in for Kitava's Cuban bowl with heritage pork shoulder, zoodles (zucchini noodles) with red sauce, and even General Tso's chicken, which is fried with healthier-than-usual oils at lower temperatures.
The Game Parlour
This Sunset District spot opened as a great place to play games that also has food, but its burgeoning menu (and the pandemic) have turned it into a true dining destination. Nearly everything on its menu of sweet and savory waffles (including some major waffle sandwiches), salads, and sides can be made without gluten.
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The Pizza Place on Noriega
Every pie from this Outer Sunset standby can be made with a gluten-free crust — a house-made dough that is also vegan, they say. Since the Pizza Place on Noriega uses a brick oven, every pie takes 25–30 minutes to bake, so pre-planning (or patience) pays off.
Brad Levy opened his Noe Valley restaurant in 1993, but it wasn't until his daughters were diagnosed with celiac disease that the restaurant started serving their popular fried chicken gluten free. By now, nearly the whole menu at Firefly is gluten free, or available that way, including desserts. "Our pastry chef works some witchy magic," they write on the menu.
This Mission Street shop offers an ultra affordable gluten-free meal for all those out there who pretend eating a meal without wheat costs a million dollars. Beyond the burritos and breaded options, most everything on the menu is made naturally without wheat flour. That’s in part due to the star of the show: The pupusa, in its myriad forms, is made with corn flour or masa and is gluten free.
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