Top Spots for Gluten Free Dining in California: State Wins "World's Most Celiac-Friendly Destination" Contest for Second Time
Congratulations, California! You're the first state to take our website's top honor for a second time...
Yes, for the past year, GlutenFreeTravelSite received more reviews of "gluten-free friendly" restaurants and other businesses in California than from any other location. California was our winner back in 2011, too! (Check out other past winners on our Annual Contest page.)
Having lived in Northern California a long time ago -- and having friends and family in Southern California -- I'm not surprised that this diverse state that's always so in tune with healthy lifestyles should earn this honor for the second time in the past three years.
Whether you live in or are visiting northern, central, or southern California, you can't help but notice the growing number of restaurants offering gluten free options on the menu -- or even offering separate gluten free menus.
Choices range from cutting edge San Francisco restaurants like Pica Pica, Cafe Graitude, and Gracias Madre...to Tommy Bahama, offering many gluten free items with a Caribbean twist in Southern California...to the cozy Bungalow offering steaks and other fare in Corona del Mar...to True Food Kitchen, offering organic, local, seasonal fare at several locations in Southern California...to The Mission, which one of our reviewer called "the best gluten free food in San Diego"...to Avila's El Ranchito with locations throughout Southern California...to ubiquitous chains like Z Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, all of which offer delicious gluten free pizza. There are farmer's markets, too, most of which have many gluten free offerings, including fresh baked breads and pastries.
And there are pocket of the state emerging as great destinations in and of themselves. Take Napa, for instance. The Inn on Randolph, a dedicated gluten free B&B that just opened a little over a year ago, has skyrocketed to the top of Trip Advisor's rankings. Gluten free restaurants are springing up around Napa as well, making it a top choice for a gluten free getaway.
You can read the reviews of these -- and many other -- places by doing a search on GlutenFreeTravelSite. You can find all our California reviews on a consolidated page, or, to narrow your search to a specific area, type in a town or zip code on our Search/Mapping page.
Just remember, though...many people in California are quick to embrace healthy-eating trends or folllow their favorite celebrity's latest diet. And restaurants are smart to seize on this opportunity. That's why you'll find so many restaurants offering gluten free fare. As my close friend who lives in Santa Monica explained to me, it's hard to find a restaurant that doesn't offer some gluten free options these days.
But as you and I know, all gluten free menus are not created equal. While some restaurants have proper education, training, and monitoring to ensure safe practices in preapring gluten free meals for Celiacs, others see it as a lifestyle choice and don't understand that offering items made from gluten free ingredients is only part of the picture. Ultimate care needs to be taken in handling and preparing gluten free meals so that customers with Celiac and gluten sensitivity can feel confident -- and avoid getting sick.
So please be vigilant -- wherever you dine. While we can celebrate growing awareness of Celiac and gluten sensitivity and the number of restaurants offering "gluten free" options, try not to become complacent. Continue to ask questions about the preparation of your food, the use of dedicated fryers, separate prep areas, and clean pots, pans, and grills. And always, always state upfront that you're on a gluten free diet for medical reasons, if that's the case.
Please also "pay it forward" by sharing your own reviews of GF-friendly places where you dine on GlutenFreeTravelSite. In doing so, you do a HUGE favor for hundreds of thousands of other Celiac and gluten free folks looking for guidance and feedback. And you give some much-deserved word-of-mouth recognition to the wonderful restaurants that serve our community!
Here's to a 2014 with even more safe places to dine gluten free than ever before! Happy New Year!