Now, I only visited for a week and I didn’t eat out every day. However, I did manage to revisit some of my old favorite restaurants for eating gluten free and find some new ones. So whether you live near San Diego and want some new gluten free restaurants to try or are visiting soon and want to know about the best gluten free restaurants near San Diego, keep reading to find out.
Snackin’ Free is a dedicated gluten free restaurant in Murrieta, California. But even if it’s a little out of your way while you’re visiting San Diego, Snackin’ Free is definitely worth the drive! Besides being gluten free, all of Snackin’ Free’s foods are grain free, dairy free, soy free and free of artificial ingredients and preservatives. They offer some vegetarian and vegan options as well. I actually reviewed Snackin’ Free on the blog years ago and it was such a treat to visit the restaurant and meet the owners in person! (And they are crazy sweet, by the way, and even remembered me!).
|Me, Laura and fellow celiac (who I met at the shop) Faith|
The boy and I were both craving sandwiches, so I ordered the Cuban (featuring black forest ham, sauerkraut, dill pickles, mustard and soy-free mayonnaise) and Chris got the Fall Sammich (with roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, soy-free mayonnaise, mustard and greens on pumpkin bread).
And ohhhh my goodness. Our sandwiches came out super fast, the bread was still warm and I just about died on the first bite. All of Snackin’ Free’s gluten free breads that I’ve tried are dense and chewy, which was just fine with me. The ham was fresh, the sauerkraut added a nice tang and crunch, and I just about moaned over that warm bread.
Chris also loved his sandwich and gave me a bite to try. The turkey was a little thick for me, but I loved the addition of spinach for some crunch and freshness, and the pumpkin flavor of the bun was present but not overwhelming.
Of course, we also had to get some desserts to go. I ordered the dark chocolate paleo and vegan scone, which had chocolate chips and icing on top, as well as a snickerdoodle cookie. Chris loved the cookie, which was soft and chewy and sweet without tasting sugary. He wasn’t as big of a fan of the scone, but I loved the dark (almost bitter) chocolate flavor. I also enjoyed its firm, almost cookie-like texture.
Laura was kind enough to also give Chris and I samples of their dark chocolate cake and German chocolate brownie. And oh my gosh, guys. Although the brownie was tasty, if you go to Snackin’ Free, you MUST order the dark chocolate cake! The cubed slice we tried was melt-in-your-mouth soft, and the dark chocolate frosting had the perfect level of sweetness.
Compared to many gluten free restaurants, I thought Snackin’ Free’s prices were reasonable, and the sandwiches were an ideal size for a quick lunch. Snackin’ Free also offers soups, breadsticks, pizza and other gluten free entrees in the restaurant, along with gluten free snacks like house-made plantain chips, graham crackers and more. They also do ship, so you can try their gluten free and paleo food even if you aren’t in the San Diego area.
Who doesn’t want gluten free and dairy free ice cream – OK, technically gelato – on their vacation? Chris surprised me with a mid-morning gelato run while we were walking around The Village in Carlsbad, and it was one heck of a delicious snack!
One of our friends actually works at Gaia’s Gelato, so I was able to check the risk of cross-contamination with her. All the gelato is made in-house, and the sorbets are made in a clean machine before any gluten-containing flavors, so I felt safe eating those. Most of the gelato is also made before gluten-containing flavors as well, so I also tried a few bites of my boyfriend’s gluten free gelato (which did contain dairy).
Even eating gluten free and dairy free, I had plenty of options to choose from. Hannah (our friend) let us sample all the sorbet flavors, including Raspberry, Triple Berry, Dark Chocolate, Blood Orange, Strawberry, Mango and Lemon. I ended up going with a small serving of Raspberry and Dark Chocolate and it was heavenly.
The gluten free sorbet is insanely creamy for being dairy free, and I was amazed at how much thicker gelato is than ice cream. The dark chocolate tasted rich and paired deliciously with the more refreshing, tart raspberry. I also tasted Chris’s Belgium Chocolate and Honey Lavender gelato, which are gluten free but contain dairy. And oh my golly gumdrops. If I could eat dairy, I’d be allll over that Belgium Chocolate, which tasted a bit sweeter than the Dark Chocolate sorbet.
Because cross-contamination is more of a risk at this restaurant than others (like, obviously, an entirely gluten free restaurant), I’d highly recommend talking to the workers before ordering to learn more about their cleaning policies and which flavors that are made the earliest in the rotation (i.e., not after gluten-containing flavors, and therefore less likely to be cross-contaminated). As always, it is up to you to determine what gluten free food you feel safe eating. Every celiac’s comfort level is different – and that’s totally OK.
3. Red Robin
I didn’t actually take any pictures of my meal at Red Robin’s since I was meeting the boy’s parents for the first time that dinner…but it looked somethin’ like the picture below, only I ordered their new salmon filet!
Like always when eating out gluten free, I let the waiter know when we sat down that I had celiac disease and would need a gluten free meal free of cross contamination. He said he’d let his manager know, and the manager brought all my food out separately. I ended up ordering the salmon filet with a gluten free bun, tomato, pickles, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. Because I’d already eaten fries earlier that week, I went with the bottomless broccoli. Most Red Robin’s locations do have dedicated fryers for gluten free fries, though.
My salmon came out super tender and flaky, and the bun was warm and soft. The broccoli was steamed well and I liked having some greens with my burger. All in all, another solid trip to Red Robin!
4. Chick Fil A
This is another gluten free restaurant option that might not be super exciting, but it is really dependable. Chris and I needed a quick lunch, and since a Chick Fil A was nearby, that’s what we went with. We both ordered gluten free (Chris likes to do this so he can kiss me without worrying about me getting glutened), and ended up getting a side salad, a Grilled Market salad and a serving of waffle fries. (I’d also brought some leftover food from the night before in my lunch box, and had that along with my side salad. I hate wasting food, and it’s definitely more affordable to supplement eating out with leftovers!).
I let the cashier know I have celiac disease while ordering, and he made sure my fries were made in a dedicated fryer. Before this visit, I hadn’t had Chick Fil A in forever, but this meal reminded me how good their gluten free food can be. The salads were fresh, the fries were hot and Chris and I both left with happy tummies.
I know Starbucks doesn’t really count as a gluten free restaurant, but it is one of the places I bought food during this trip (along with Sprouts Farmer’s Market and Aldi) so I thought I’d include it! The boy got tons of Starbucks gift cards for Christmas, so he treated me to some gluten free snacks while we walked around town.
I was amazed at how many gluten free snacks were available at Starbucks, including Bare Snack’s banana and strawberry chips, Emmy’s Organics coconut cookies, various Kind Bars, Perfect Bars and more. I got a caramel dark chocolate Kind Bar and it was just as delicious as it sounds! Starbucks definitely isn’t the cheapest place to buy gluten free food…but in a pinch, you can definitely find some tasty gluten free snacks!
Eating Out Gluten Free in San Diego: The Takeaway
If you’re visiting San Diego and its surrounding cities, I hope this list gives you an idea of all the gluten free restaurants you can enjoy while there. You can also check out my more comprehensive list of the best gluten free restaurants in San Diego here, and I’m sure I’ll post another review of gluten free restaurants the next time I visit.
As always, this list is not comprehensive and there were many gluten free restaurants I wanted to try but didn’t have a chance to visit. I highly recommend using the Find Me Gluten Free phone app if you visit San Diego (or anywhere else) to help find safe places to eat out gluten free, and that app actually helped me find all of these restaurants. (Learn about all the gluten free apps I love here). And if you have any recommendations of gluten free restaurants in or near San Diego that I should try next time…please tell me in the comments!
And if you’d like more posts about what it’s like dating with celiac disease, feel free to comment about that too. Until then…I hope you’re eating some delicious gluten free food, and I’ll talk to you again soon!