Restaurants change frequently (much more often than this website is updated) and practices can vary from visit to visit, so please remember to always check the preparation and ingredients of your meal; ask questions appropriate to your individual needs.
For more up-to-date information on local restaurants, we highly recommend using the Find Me Gluten-free website and app. You’ll find reviews of restaurants from a gluten-free perspective in the Santa Cruz area and beyond. Don’t forget to leave a review of your experiences to help others.
That said, the list below includes a few local establishments that are popular with those on a gluten-free diet.
Melinda’s Gluten-free Bakery
Melinda’s Gluten-free Bakery 1420 41st Ave, Capitola, CA 95010. A dedicated gluten-free bakery: breads, pastries, sandwiches, pies, cakes, croissants (they go fast, so call ahead to check if you want some), and more.
Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
See our dedicated page on the Boardwalk.
Some other dining establishments of note for those on a gluten-free diet.
Ike’s Sandwiches (1318 Ocean St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060; near the intersection of highways 1 and 17) has great gluten-free sandwich rolls (you seriously won’t believe they are gluten-free) and seems to take cross-contamination seriously.
Laili Restaurant, an upscale, moderately expensive Mediterranean restaurant, has many tasty GF options on their menu.
Pacific Cookie Company gets gluten-free dough from Mariposa Bakery and bakes it onsite. They are well-educated about cross contamination.
Near the Harbor
Johnny’s Harborside, a great fish house on the harbor; many GF options. Moderately expensive; reservations recommended.
The Windmill Café on East Cliff is popular for their GF breakfast treats and sandwiches. They can get busy, so plan ahead.
These are just a few stand-outs. There are many other great restaurants in the area that offer GF options, just too many to list and too changeable.
And I repeat: always ask questions to make sure the food you order meets your diet requirements.