One of the things I was most excited about when making the move to the Santa Monica area was the abundance of gluten-free options at several of the surrounding restaurants. Every day I’ve been able to try something new, and I have yet to be disappointed.
One thing I noticed though was that there wasn’t a comprehensive list of some of the best gluten-free offerings in the area. So I decided to make it very easy for those of us living the GF lifestyle, whether it’s by choice or by necessity.
Do note that some of these restaurants are not entirely gluten-free, so be sure to tell your server if you have Celiac disease so they can make the necessary accommodations.
1. True Food Kitchen
395 Santa Monica Place
Based on the anti-inflammatory diet, the True Food Kitchen menu has a little something for everyone. Whether you are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or any combination of the three, you’re guaranteed to find something that will suit your palate. While not every item on the menu is gluten-free, many can be modified to accommodate a gluten-free diet.
Their Organic Tuscan Kale Salad can be made without the breadcrumbs, and it’s by far one of my favorite simple salads around (and to be totally honest, I never really got on the kale-train, except for this salad; I’m not sure what they do to make it so good, but it’s basically healthy crack). Their menu changes seasonally to reflect whatever is in season and delicious, and never disappoints.
2. Rosti Santa Monica
931 Montana Ave.
As an Italian girl, when I first found out that I have Celiac disease, my heart immediately broke at the thought of not being able to gorge on spaghetti whenever I saw fit. Fortunately, many Italian restaurants heard the battle cries of the Celiacs and rose to the occasion by offering gluten-free pasta and bread at several locations. Rosti takes care to use separate pans and water for their gluten-free orders, so you are in good hands.
At Rosti, you can enjoy gluten-free panini, sandwiches, risotto, pasta and pizza. Let the carb-fest begin! If you’re looking for a lighter, protein-packed lunch, try any of their salads (my favorite is the Arugula and Fig Salad) topped with protein (go for the steak).
3. Caffe Delfini
147 W Channel Road
Caffe Delfini also offers gluten-free pasta, as well as several other entrees that will meet the needs of the gluten-free. They also label their menu so you can see what is non-dairy and vegetarian, so this is a great spot for groups with specific dietary needs.
4. Sushi Roku
1401 Ocean Ave.
Sushi Roku has long been one of my all-time favorite sushi restaurants, and it’s an even easier no-brainer since they actually have a gluten-free menu. Many sushi restaurants today have Tamari, but I still don’t usually trust that their preparation is gluten-free unless they actually have a gluten-free menu. Sushi Roku does an excellent job of having not only an extensive gluten-free menu, but also taking care to ensure that your food is prepared as safely as possible.
I could probably live on their grilled octopus appetizer, which has garlic, sea salt and olive oil, and it would be excellent if I could just have endless servings of their baked crab hand roll and baked lobster roll. Their sushi is fresh, creative, and always delicious.
5. Fritto Misto Italian Cafe
601 Colorado Ave.
Fritto Misto gives you tons of options for making your meal gluten-free and/or low-carb. One of the best ways to go is to do the “Create Your Own Pasta” option, which allows you to choose your pasta, sauce, veggies and add-ins. They have a great wheat-free and eggless pasta, which is great for the gluten-free vegans out there. If you’re craving pasta and need it to be a little bit more low-carb though, you can also substitute the pasta in any of their pasta dishes with fresh vegetables.
6. Kye’s Montana
1518 Montana Ave.
Kye’s boasts a wheat-free kitchen – and wouldn’t it be ideal if every restaurant ever could do that? Unfortunately, the world doesn’t revolve around the gluten-free, but thankfully, Kye’s does!
All Kyeritos are wrapped in either nori, collard greens, or romaine lettuce, but you can also skip the wrap and have it served in a bowl. They also offer their Kyeritos Paleo style, meaning you can have your ‘rito served with roasted cauliflower and almond meal mash instead of rice. I have a big thing for the Bulgogi served in a bowl, which features thinly-sliced marinated beef, a mix of six vegetables, herbs, kimchi, house-made Gochujang sauce, and a white rice and quinoa blend.
7. Bru’s Wiffle
2408 Wilshire Blvd.
Bru’s Wiffle offers a gluten-free waffle with a bevy of choices for toppings, including Nutella and ice cream. That’s pretty amazing in and of itself, but get ready for the big one: Bru’s offers gluten-free CHICKEN AND WAFFLES. That’s right, folks. Chicken. And. Waffles. They also have several delicious omelettes and salads, but I really want to make sure we don’t bury the headline, so I will state this again: they have gluten-free chicken and waffles. Drop the mic.
8. Beaming Organic Superfood Cafe
1426 Montana Ave.
Beaming Superfood Cafe is the Mecca for all things healthy. It really doesn’t get any cleaner than this. Their menu features an array of smoothies, unpasteurized, cold-pressed, non-GMO juices, raw and gently-cooked meals, glue- and dairy-free superfood baked goods, and much, much more. They also have cleanses that suit a variety of different lifestyles and goals, including a wedding cleanse (WHY did I not know about this before my big day?)! You can even order several items on the menu as low-glycemic.
Their Knocked Up smoothie is made for the expectant mother, but even if you’re not looking to put a (gluten-free) bun in the oven, you should try this ultra nutritious smoothie anyway. It is made with almond milk, coconut water, spinach, avocado, Beaming Protein with Greens, superfood greens, chia powder, hemp seeds, E3live (their own special blend), banana, strawberries, goji berries, almond butter and dates.
9. Grey Block Pizza
1811 Pico Blvd.
Grey Block Pizza is THE spot to go for gluten-free flatbread. They were dedicated to making the best gluten-free flour blend out there, and they’ve come up with the magic combination. Their flour is free of soy, rice, and GMO’s, and to top it all off, it is certified organic! Their special blend is made of amaranth, teff, millet and tapioca.
If you’re a mushroom lover, then you need to try The Caps. This flatbread is topped with portobello, oyster, button and shiitake mushrooms, a lovely cheese medley, and an olive pesto sauce base.
10. Pono Burger
You’re missing out if you haven’t tried a Pono Burger yet. Pono Burgers feature organic, hormone- and antibiotic-free beef from grass-fed cows, and really, you can’t get higher quality than that. The beef is cooked over an oak fire, giving it excellent flavor.
Chef Makani features signature as well as seasonal burgers, and her creations result in overall excellence in both quality and flavor. Or, you can also build your own burger in case you don’t see something that’s hitting that burger craving sweet spot! Any burger can be served with a gluten-free bun. I currently have a major craving for their Piku “Fig” burger, which features their organic beef patties, house-made drunken caramelized fig jam, brie, bacon, toasted hazelnuts, organic arugula, and house-made balsamic vinaigrette.
11. Sweetfin Poke
The rise in the popularity of the poke bowl and all of the delicious-looking Instagram photos of them on our timelines is cruel and unusual punishment to those of us who cannot have gluten. Luckily for us, Sweetfin Poke wanted our suffering to come to an end. Not only can you get your very own poke bowl gluten-free, you can also get it low-carb!
They have amazing kelp noodle and cucumber slaw that you can sub for their bamboo rice, but frankly, both are worth trying. The best part about Sweetfin is everything on the menu is gluten-free, so you are totally safe. My BYOB (build your own bowl) is salmon with the Sriracha ponzu sauce, house-pickled shiitake mushrooms, seaweed salad, avocado (duh), and crispy garlic on the kelp noodle slaw. Given the opportunity, I would eat here daily.
12. Mendocino Farms
631 Wilshire Blvd.
One of the most annoying things about being gluten-free is the inability to just go grab a simple sandwich when you’re hungry. Mendocino Farms does a great job of accommodating those with Celiac disease as well as those who are just trying to steer clear of gluten, and they have an amazing list of sandwiches that are labeled if they are able to be made gluten-free. Even though I am not a vegan, one of my favorites on the list is their Vegan Banh Mi, which features organic marinated and baked tofu, Vegenaise, sweet chili sauce, house-made pickled daikon and carrots, cucumbers and cilantro.
If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, try one of their delicious gluten-free salads, like the Save Drake Farm’s Salad, which has chicken, almonds, goat cheese, apples, cranberries, red onions, beets and a light citrus vinaigrette.
13. Bulletproof Coffee
3110 Main Street
I could camp out at Bulletproof Coffee if they’d let me. In fact, I may or may not be guilty of having to force myself NOT to go there twice in one day, or back-to-back days, just because I’m a little embarrassed that they might think I’m crazy. From breakfast to dinner, they have it covered. Their coffee allows me to function at a million miles a minute even on very little sleep, and their food is amazing. Their breakfast burritos are light and fluffy, but nothing beats their Protein Steak Bowl, which features grass-fed steak, vegetables with herb butter sauce and white rice.
14. Flower Child
1332 2nd Street
Flower Child is the perfect spot for those with dietary restrictions. They are able to accommodate those who are gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian, all while making truly delicious meals. If it hasn’t become clear yet, let me put something out there: I love a protein bowl. That being said, you definitely need to try their bowls, to which you can add all-natural chicken, sustainable salmon, grass-fed steak, or organic non-GMO tofu.
Try the Thai Cashew Quinoa for extra protein, which has zucchini, snap pea, celery, onion, shiitake mushroom, jalapeno, thai basil, cashews and red quinoa.
15. The Misfit Restaurant and Bar
225 Santa Monica Blvd.
The Misfit is a great spot to go with friends, or to bring your out-of-town guests for a fun time and delicious drinks. Their expertise doesn’t just stop with their cocktails though. Their menu features many gluten-free items, and they even serve the menu late into the evening, so you don’t have to attempt a fast-food gluten-free meal when the late night munchies kick in. If you’re feeling like indulging, definitely try their gluten-free baked mac and cheese, which has green chile and brown rice pasta. You can also add chorizo or pancetta to the mix and frankly, you can’t go wrong with either.
16. Blue Daisy
Blue Daisy has long been known for their delicious crepes, and this cafe makes the perfect spot for a gluten-free brunch. Blue Daisy offers gluten-free pancakes and waffles that actually taste delicious and not like cardboard. If you’re craving one of their signature crepes, then you’re in luck – they can make those gluten-free too. Also, do yourself a favor and try their Zucchini Hash.
17. Golden Mean Cafe
1028 Wilshire Blvd.
Golden Mean is a completely vegan cafe, and has several gluten-free options as well. Let’s put it this way: if vegan food always tasted this good, I’d hop on the vegan train right away.
Try their gluten-free Rueben sandwich. It makes a huge mess, so maybe don’t try it on a date, but it is well worth it. For an added boost, try their Mocha Maca drink for jitter-free energy and just a great excuse to drink something chocolatey (and low-cal!).
18. The OP Cafe
3117 Ocean Park Blvd.
If you’re looking for a great atmosphere, friendly people and delicious food, then look no further than OP Cafe. This little breakfast and lunch spot embodies all that is the beachy history of Santa Monica, complete with nods to the Santa Monica lifeguards. Their menu is clearly labeled with what is vegetarian and gluten-free, so choosing your items is a no-brainer.
For some south-of-the-border flare, try the Border Scramble, which is made of chorizo, scrambled eggs and cilantro, and served with corn tortillas. If you’re looking for something a little sweeter, try out their unbeatable gluten-free pancakes.
19. Art’s Table
1002 Montana Ave.
For those who love to pair great wine with great food, this spot is for you. Art’s Table is known for delicious small plates, which is always great because then you can order a million things but it’s okay because it’s “small.” Their menu is also labeled with what is gluten-free, which is always a god-send.
Try the Mini Eggplant Parm, which is made of Japanese eggplant, gluten-free panko, herbed ricotta, oven-roasted tomato, marinara, pesto and basil oil. Also definitely try the Art’s Chicken Bites, made of gluten-free flour-dusted chicken, habanero aioli, lime zest, black garlic, sesame oil and chicken chicharones. We’ll take 12.
1314 7th Street
Cassia is an upscale French-Asian fusion restaurant that features incredibly fresh, flavorful dishes. If you go, ask for the gluten-free menu, and you’ll be sure to find something that will blow you away. With an array of fresh selections – from their chilled seafood bar as well as a totally unique charcuterie platter (with items like Singaporean Candied Pork) – you’re in for a total treat.
For salad, try the Green Papaya Salad with watercress and spiced walnuts. It’s fresh, crunchy, spicy, and totally refreshing. My favorite entree is the Whole Grilled Sea Bass with turmeric, dill and lime. For a side, you have to try the Wok-tossed Yard Beans and Avocado. Everything can be served family-style or coursed.
21. Forma Restaurant and Cheese Bar
1610 Montana Ave.
Do you love cheese? If you don’t, well, frankly I don’t trust you, but if you do, then read on. Forma finishes its pasta in giant cheese wheels, so everything has a delectable cheese flavor. Their menu is clearly labeled for what is gluten-free and vegan, which we’ve established by now would be an ideal feature for every restaurant (since they so stubbornly refuse to all just be gluten-free, sigh).
Gluten-free pasta and pizza are available, but to switch things up, we recommend the Risotto Milanese, which is made of rice, saffron, veal ossobuco and tossed in grana padano cheese.
22. The Upper West
3321 Pico Blvd.
The Upper West takes great care to ensure that your dinner is gluten-free. A great spot for a date night (they also have a great Valentine’s Day menu – heads up, gentlemen), this is the perfect place to take your gluten-free loved ones. This spot really knows how to do fish well, so we recommend any of their gluten-free seafood dishes.
23. Cafe Bolivar
1741 Ocean Park Blvd.
Cafe Bolivar has an array of delicious coffees, teas and smoothies, but the real standout is their arepas. Prepared in the Caracas tradition, their arepas are gluten-free as well as nut-free. While they have several different ways to have your arepas, we like the sweet and savory combination which has slices of mangoes, avocado and fresh white cheese, garlic confit, and rosemary aioli.
24. The Hive
The Hive has everything you need to be as healthy as humanly possible, from kombucha on tap to a wide variety of bone broths. You really can’t mess up here. Their menu shows what is vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free, so again, it’s a no brainer. They also have several Paleo items, so this is a great spot to grab a delicious Paleo lunch. For those of you who feel like you are missing out with all of the delicious avocado toasts all over Instagram, your FOMO is over — The Hive offers a nutritious Avocado Omega Toast which has pickled radish, hemp seed, coconut oil, dulse, sumac, and of course, avocado, on gluten-free brioche.
25. Pradeep’s Indian Restaurant
1405 Montana Ave.
Indian food lovers, get excited. Pradeep’s Indian Restaurant does not use any butter or cream in any of their dishes, and works to create a menu both low in fat and cholesterol, and high in fiber. Everything on their menu is labeled to reflect whether the item is gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, and there are endless options for everyone. I recommend the Vindaloo Dishes and of course, Tikka Masala!