4 Minority-Owned LA Cafes with Gluten-Free Options

Between COVID-19 and ongoing social injustice, it can be difficult to come up for air this year. I’ve attempted to keep myself as “zen” as possible and enjoy the little things in life lately. This usually involves getting out and about (safely. Wear a mask!) or finding a great new place to grab take out from. 

As I posted earlier this summer, I’m committed to supporting local businesses and especially those owned by minorities. In this quarantine time, it can be easy to stick with what you know. Sometimes, it’s all about the comfort of knowing that the first sip of your iced espresso is just what you expected from Starbucks, or devouring that hunk of guac on the Chipotle burrito bowl. Am I right? 

But it’s good to step out of that comfort zone and explore. I’ve been fortunate lately to discover some new-to-me places along with some old reliables. The results have been nothing but delicious and I’ve taken the opportunity to have my new findings be black and minority-owned businesses. 

If you’re in LA, here’s a few wonderful places I highly recommend to support locally. Enjoy! 

Annie’s Sweet Oven Bakery Cafe, Sylmar

In an unassuming mini-mart plaza off of Foothill Boulevard in Sylmar, don’t miss a chance to try Annie’s Sweet Oven Bakery Cafe. The welcoming coffeehouse offers an array of coffee, espresso, and tea drinks in addition to smoothies and a hearty menu of breakfast and lunch goodies.

Mouthwatering sweet treats like muffins, cookies, and scones greet you upon entering, and Annie is seriously one of the kindest people you’ll meet. It’s always such a great way to start my day when I pop in for a tea and gluten-free egg sandwich. 

Gluten-free avocado toast at Annie’s. (c) Mary Farah

Ranch Side Cafe, Sylmar

Another terrific Sylmar gem on the other end of Foothill is Ranch Side Cafe. Their cozy dining room boasts murals paying homage to historical greats like Mother Teresa and even Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. All for celebrating multicultural lives, Ranch Side Cafe keeps it unique with American, Mexican, and Ethiopian menus. 

With such an impressive selection, everyone is sure to find something to satisfy their cravings at Ranch Side. We all know I love breakfast, and their fajita omelet with hash browns has my vote. If you’re new to Ethiopian cuisine, I highly recommend their injara. A sour fermented bread that is….drumroll….gluten-free! 

JamaFo Jamaican Food XPress, Canoga Park 

Fun fact: I love Jamaican food. I don’t enjoy it as often as I’d like, but I’m a happy camper if you offer me coconut shrimp and plantains. Nestled in the San Fernando Valley is JamaFo, a “hole in the wall” express cafe serving traditional favorites like jerk chicken and oxtail. I just tried them for the first time thanks to a recommendation from my friend, Keke, and it didn’t disappoint. 

While I waited for my order, I enjoyed the Rasta vibes as Bob Marley played through the speakers. Their menu offers something for everyone, including a strong selection of gluten-free and vegan options. 

Lêberry, Pasadena 

Gluten-free folks understand my pain when I say that I miss donuts. They’re hard to come by, but oh-so-exciting when you do. At Lêberry in Old Town Pasadena, they serve up an impressive selection of gluten-free and vegan baked goodies, including donuts. Many items are also organic. 

Whether you’re looking to grab some cupcakes and a coffee or need an event catered, Lêberry is an ideal one-stop shop on historic Colorado Boulevard. Whistling distance to Vroman’s Bookstore, I love to make a beeline to Lêberry in between grabbing a new book.

While these are just a few of my faves, I’m in search of more fantastic locally-owned cafes to support in and around LA. If you’re an Angelino, where do you recommend I head next? Do tell! xo

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