Santa Cruz Celiac Support Group

Favorite Restaurants

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Here are some of the restaurants that are popular with celiacs in Santa Cruz and the surrounding cities.
I myself haven’t been to all of them, but they have all been vetted by at least one celiac. Please remember to always check the ingredients of your meal, since menus can change

Santa Cruz

Ristorante Avanti
1711 Mission Often have polenta or risotto on the menu; expensive but good; not for kids.
Ristorante Italiano
555 Soquel Ave Upscale Italian.
Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room
221 Cathcart Street Casual Hawaiian; Sweet Potato Fries are NOT GF! List of allergens available (caution: they recently changed their menu, and when we went there recently (August 09) they had not yet updated the list, so be sure to confirm the GF status of what you order). Popular with several local celiacs.
Thai House
353 Soquel Avenue
Vasili's Greek Restaurant
1501 Mission Great lemon-chicken soup; unfortunately the potatoes are cooked in contaminated oil, and the rice is cooked with canned broth that couldn’t be determined to be gluten-free at the time.
Marianne’s Ice Cream
1020 Ocean Street Fabulous Ice cream (many varieties are GF; be sure to ask about ingredients), sundaes, splits, etc… (sugarless ice cream is available); be sure to take a number as soon as you get there!
Las Palmas Taco Bar
55 Front Street A quick, easy meal near the Boardwark/Wharf.
Taqueria Vallarta
1221 Mission Street Santa Cruz; 1101 Pacific Ave (at Cathcart); 608 Soquel Ave (at Branciforte Ave); 893 41st Ave (near Portola); Felton: 6272 Highway 9 (at Graham Hill Road). A local Mexican food chain with many GF options. Soft tacos are fine (fish and shrimp too), as are all their meats, guacamole, and salsa; don’t get the chips or anything from the deep fryer. I like their plates. If you have any FFL Brown Rice Tortillas handy, you can bring one with you and ask them to use it for a burrito (all of their restaurants are near health food stores, so you can stop in and get a package if you have a burrito craving). If you are very sensitive, make sure they clean the grill before heating up your tortilla; consider staying away from anything cooked on the grill (carne asada) and stick to things from the pot (chili verde).
Planet Fresh
1003 Cedar St in downtown Santa Cruz One of the few places to serve gluten-free tortilla chips.
Little Tampico
2605 Main Street in Soquel Sit-down Mexican
Seascape Village, Aptos Upscale Mexican
Mc Donald’s
There is one at 1210 Ocean street a couple blocks from the 17/1 interchange, another at 1421 Mission St near Bay. In Capitola there are two, one at the mall and the other across the street near Longs. The one in Scotts Valley is located at 259 Mount Hermon Rd in the Longs/Safeway shopping center. Ask for your hamburger without the bun, then check to make sure they did it right before you leave.
For information about gluten in McDonald’s fries check out the Gluten Free Homemaker and Allergy Eats.
Deli at Staff of Life
1305 Water Street, Santa Cruz Because they use wheat-free tamari, many of their dishes are gluten-free. This is like getting gluten-free fast food that is healthy, nutritious, and tasty: a winning combination! They have many tasty veggie, vegan, and chicken selections. I have not looked into the possibilities of cross-contamination in the kitchen; sensitive celiacs should ask about this. Plus, if you want some GF carbs to go with it, you can choose from the store’s wide selection of GF crackers, cookies, or other GF snacks. This store has the lowest prices for natural food in the Santa Cruz area.
SmoQue BBQ
10110 Soquel Drive, Aptos Offers gluten-free pizza. Cross contamination can be a problem here, so be sure to ask questions to determine if this is an acceptable restaurant for you.
Woodstock’s Pizza
710 Front Street Santa Cruz 831-427-4444 Offers a 14” gluten-free crust from Venice Bakery. For the GF crust, add $2 onto the cost of a large pizza ($21). Cross contamination can occur from pans shared with wheat pizzas, sauce (spread onto pizzas from a shared container; double dipping occurs), and from preparation. However, they were very willing to use a fresh batch of sauce, scrub the pan, and wash hands and surfaces before preparing our pizza. Recommend you bring in parchment paper to cover the pans before they bake the pizza. Look out for the “creamy garlic” sauce (white sauce) on some of their combos; I didn’t ask, but it looked like it might be flour-based. Best to go during off-peak hours.
Tony and Alba’s Pizza
Scotts Valley 226 Mt. Hermon Road 831-439-9999;
Santa Cruz 817Soquel Ave. 831-425-8669;
Capitola 1501 41st Avenue 831-475-4450;
Watsonville 1074 Green Valley Road
Offers a small pizza on French Meadows Bakery crust. About $20.00. Be sure to ask questions about cross contamination.
Erik’s Delicafe
Aptos (Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center) 102 Rancho Del Mar 831-688-5656;
Capitola (King’s Plaza Shopping Center) 1475 A-2 41st Avenue 831-475-4646;
Santa Cruz (Downtown) 115 Walnut Avenue 831-425-5353;
Santa Cruz (near Dominican Hospital) 1664 Soquel Drive 831-462-1919;
Scotts Valley (King’s Village Shopping Center; near Nob Hill) 222 Mt. Hermon Road 831-438-4646;
Erik’s, a long-time local favorite sandwich shop, now offers sandwiches on Rudi’s gluten-free bread. As this is a relatively recent change for Erik’s, we have found it is good to make sure they follow the procedures for making gluten-free sandwiches. At one location, the procedures were followed exactly during the day shift but in the evening the preparer had no knowledge of the details for making GF sandwiches. Procedures are as follows: Use clean gloves; put the bread on parchment paper to avoid cross contamination, toast the bread (on the parchment paper) for all sandwiches (normally only the hot sandwiches are heated in the oven, but for all gluten-free sandwiches the bread must be toasted; insist on this or the sandwich will not be palatable). There should be a special “gluten-free goo” squeeze bottle (to avoid cross contamination) and the sandwich should be cut with a clean knife.

On the Wharf

Ideal Bar and Grill
On the Wharf Several GF options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; medium price range, good for kids (check out their Wednesday night lobster special). They have been good about substituting ingredients if you tell them you have a medically required diet.
On the Wharf A tasty snack: think shrimp cocktail or smoked salmon; sadly no fries.
For a full meal, Stagnaro Brother’s Restaurant or Miramar (expensive) are acceptable but not fabulous; and Carniglia’s (very expensive) seems to have several options (never eaten there). There are few options at Riva’s, Gilda’s, or the Dolphin; I don’t recommend them.

In Capitola

4250 Capitola Road near 41st GF bread available as well as a small selection of GF items from the menu. Menu is all vegetarian and mostly vegan (no eggs, some dairy). I have recently heard that they now have GF pizza. Warning: look out for the “wheat-free” cookies: they are made with spelt, which is a variety of wheat. Also, cross contamination could be a problem, so ask appropriate questions.
Tony and Alba’s Pizza
(see above)
Fresh Choice
3555 Clares St, Capitola Fresh Choic has labeled all their gluten-free items; you can get a plate of salad for under $10 and add a chicken breast for just a couple dollars more. Be sure to read the labels carefully; I found a couple of them confusing, and watch for cross contamination from nearby items.
Marie Calendars
Near the mall in Capitola Reported to be accommodating to celiacs.
Erik’s Delicafe
(see above)

In Scotts Valley

On Mount Hermon Road, you can find several great places to eat gluten-free.
Scotts Valley Chinese Cuisine
Scotts Valley Ask the owner, Mary, to make your food without soy sauce or bring your own GF soy sauce.
Bruno's Barbecue
230 Mount Hermon Road, Scotts Valley Has the best ribs around, and the sauce is gluten-free!!! You cannot eat the french fries, but the chili, coleslaw, and potato salad are OK.
Tuscon Taqueria
Scotts Valley The tamales are NOT GF but you can have the sauce on the enchiladas.
Taqueria Los Gallos
Scotts Valley Also has GF options
5620 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley 831-438-5664 Gluten-free hamburger patties, chicken filet, chili, salads, and baked potatoes.
Offical Wendy's Gluten-Free list (pdf)
Jia Tella’s
5600 Scotts Valley Drive A popular medium-priced Cambodian cuisine restaurant. Has several items on their menu marked gluten-free (check it out on their web site). They also have Redbridge beer.
Santa Cruz Pizza Company
Next door to Jia Tella’s GF pizza on French Meadows crust.
Mc Donald’s
(see above)
Rumble Fish
Scotts Valley A popular sushi restaurant
Tony and Alba’s Pizza
(see above)
Erik’s Delicafe
(see above)

There are many sushi restaurants that are great if you bring your own soy sauce. Here are two that have wheat-free Tamari:

Sushi Restaurants

Mobo Sushi
105 S River St Santa Cruz
Shogun Japanese Restaurant
1123 Pacific Ave

As always. if you discover any gluten-free friendly restaurants in the Santa Cruz area, let me know so I can add them to the list.