Along our trip from San Diego to San Fran, my boyfriend and I made a quick stop in Los Angeles to visit a friend for a night. Although it was great getting to see our friend, we did not plan this portion of our trip well. We were also visiting during a heatwave, which didn’t make for ideal sight seeing conditions. Hopefully I can offer some tips and help you make better use of your time while in the LA area. My #1 tip is to make a plan, don’t wing this portion of your trip. There is so much to see in LA that it can be overwhelming. The night we were there, we narrowed our plans down to two options; a Mumford and Sons concert or the more touristy option of seeing the Santa Monica Pier. I kind of felt like we could have seen Mumford and Sons in NY and I wasn’t sure that we would visit LA again, so I decided we should go to Santa Monica. After sitting in LA traffic for over an hour, I realized that I had not made the right call. When in doubt, go to the concert!
While in LA, we stopped at EVO Kitchen on Sunset Boulevard for lunch. EVO is completely gluten-free friendly and offers a large variety of options. They also have gluten-free beer. Although the pizza looked delicious, I opted for a salad. We enjoyed our meal and I would have went back for a second time to try the pizza, but we were in LA for less than 24 hours.
From San Diego to LA, one of my favorite frequent stops was to The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. I loved that they offered almond milk! At home, the only place I can find coffee with almond milk is Dunkin Donuts. In addition to almond milk, they offer gluten-free instant oatmeal. When I’m not traveling I make fresh oatmeal almost every morning for breakfast, so after 5 days of not having oatmeal I was thrilled to find some at The Coffee Bean.
While in LA we stayed at The Line Hotel and I would definitely recommend it to others. The Line is an awesome boutique hotel with an urban feel. I loved how unique it was. It was like no hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Every room has a huge window with a view of the city and a comfortable bed. We also got a great price on Expedia. To top it off, we saw a member of Portugal. The Man in the elevator.
Do you have any gluten-free recommendations for LA? Leave them in the comments below!
After arriving in San Diego late in the evening, partially jet lagged and hungry, we decided to venture out into the city to make the most of our first night. I stumbled on Craft and Commerce while searching the Yelp app. It seemed like a unique bar, which appealed to my boyfriend and its small menu included a few salads, which appealed to this gluten-free foodie. This spot was without a doubt our favorite find of the entire trip. We actually ended every night in San Diego with Craft and Commerce. They offer a small bar menu with some kick@$$ specialty cocktails. Mike and I shared the Very Berry Salad. His drink of choice was the Sadaharu Oh.
On our first morning in Sand Diego we stopped at The Mission for breakfast because they offer a gluten-free menu. I could tell right away that it was going to be a good spot because there was a line before 9am. The Mission did not disappoint; generous portion sizes and a lot of choices. I ordered the Chicken Apple Sausage with Scrambled Eggs and Grilled Gluten-Free Rosemary Bread (notice the bread is grilled, not toasted to help prevent contamination). This was such a delicious breakfast. The gluten-free rosemary bread was so thick and tasty. I’m still wishing I could find it locally. If you’re in San Diego, you should definitely make it a point to eat at The Mission.
I cannot say enough about PrepKitchen, Little Italy! We had a lot of great meals on this vacation, but our waiter, Steve, at PrepKitchen really made our experience that much more enjoyable. He made great drink and meal suggestions along with giving us some must see places in San Diego. Based on his recommendation we went to Sunset Cliffs which had beautiful views. I decided to veer away from my usual wine and try a mixed drink, the Oaxacan O.F. Man, did I order wrong! I did not realize this would be a tequila style old fashion, but like I said the waitstaff here is great and our waiter took this off our bill and recommended the Todo Bien.
Although PrepKitchen does not have a separate gluten-free menu they do an excellent job accommodating food allergies. Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu which make me feel comfortable ordering the Pan Roasted Salmon – which was unbelievably good. It was cooked just right and the top had a perfect seared, crisp to it. Mike took a walk on the wild side and ordered the quail dish. He also loved his dinner and was happy to cross a meal off his “bucket list.”
Mike loves craft beer, so we stop at as many breweries as possible. Karl Strauss was a great stop for my gluten loving boyfriend, but not so great for me. When I have to eat at a restaurant that is not gluten-free friendly I will order a salad with no chicken or meat to avoid as much contamination as possible. At Karl Strauss I notified my waiter of my allergy and ordered the Tabouli and Melon salad without the tabouli. I also asked for oil and vinegar instead of the raspberry-hazelnut vinaigrette. Unfortunately, when my salad was served the vinaigrette was all over. Luckily before I started eating a manager stopped at our table, so I asked about the vinaigrette and explained my allergy again. The manager suggested that I not eat the salad and brought over a small card with gluten-free options. Although Karl Strauss does not offer true gluten-free options they did their best to accommodate me and remade my salad. I will give them credit for providing me with some extra attention, but I would recommend skipping this restaurant if you are looking for stress free dining.
Our last dinner in San Diego was at Bencotto and I could not have been happier with my meal. When I made my reservation I told the hostess I have a gluten allergy and asked if they could accommodate me. Luckily, I was told food allergies of are not a problem at Bencotto. When we arrived for dinner the hostess thanked me for notifying them of my allergy ahead of time because their waiters appreciate the heads-up. Personally, it’s a huge plus in my book when waitstaff is this caring and attentive. I ordered the gluten-free pasta with pesto sauce; one of my favorites. I ate every last bite (our hotel didn’t have a fridge, so I figured I shouldn’t let anything go to waste). For dessert Mike and I shared the flour-less chocolate cake. Be sure to make a reservation here next time you are in San Diego!
In New York, I don’t usually worry much about eating at games because Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, Met Life Stadium, the Barclay’s Center and MSG all have gluten-free stations. I had a really hard time finding out if Petco Park had any gluten-free options. Originally, I thought there was a spot at the park called Melissa’s with gluten-free options, but that was not the case. However, there is an area called Cardiff’s Seaside Market that is actually really impressive. The Seaside Market offers healthy organic and gluten-free options. The menu includes gluten-free hot dogs, pizza, sushi and pre-made salads. They even offer fresh fruit and juices. My stomach did not feel the best that night so I decided to get a kale and quinoa salad which was really good and just what I needed. Food aside, Petco Park is really an awesome baseball stadium and I am happy we were able to go to a game. To top it off we were able to sit about 10 rows away from the field. If you’re a baseball fan, highly recommend catching a game.
Adventure and Sightseeing
We explored as much of the San Diego as possible during our stay. We chose to stay at the Wyndham San Diego Bayside because it had pretty view of the harbor from room. It was nice to sit on the patio with our morning coffee and before bed too. From our hotel we walked around most of the city, but some areas such as Petco Park are a really far walk. We were up for it, but that amount of walking may not be for everyone. In addition to seeing a Padres’ game, we spent a morning walking around the publicly access areas of the stadium.
We rented a car from the start of our trip, so we were able to drive to Sunset Cliffs, the Del Mar Racetrack, Coronado Island and La Jolla. The USS Midway Museum was easy walking distance from our hotel. I definitely recommend checking out each of these places. The parking on Coronado Island was a bit tricky. We parked pretty far from the beach it and it was extremely hot out that day. Regardless, we were happy once we got to the beach. In La Jolla, we went on a Kayaking tour of the La Jolla cove were we were able to see sea lions up close. It was a really cool experience that I would love to do again if I am every back in San Diego.
In August, my boyfriend and I took a great vacation in California. This was the first vacation in my life that did not revolve around a beach and to my surprise, it was possibly the most enjoyable yet. It was also my first time traveling to California. We started our trip flying into San Diego and rent a car. After spending a few days in San Diego, we started making our way north and included stops in Huntington Beach, West Hollywood, Santa Barbara and Solvang. We ended our vacation with cool, fall-like weather in San Francisco.
I think many of my fellow gluten-free travelers will agree that traveling with a food allergy can be especially difficult. My vacations are heavily planned around the availability of gluten-free dining. In this blog post I will take my you through my gluten-free journey in California. I am really excited to share my experience with you and hope my blog helps to make some of your California vacation planning less stressful. Over the next few weeks I plan to share the highlights of our trip in individual blog posts (San Diego, LA, Solvang and San Francisco)
If California is not on your list of future destinations, but sure to check out some of my other travel blogs here. When I first started blogging, one of my first travel blogs on my prior site was about gluten-free dining in Aruba. I hope to help as many gluten-free travelers as possible, so please share my posts with your GFFs (gluten-free-friends) and you can save/share my posts on Pinterest too!