Gluten-Free Along California’s Central Coast

Do you love road trips? It’s pretty clear by now that I certainly do. One of my favorite activities before one is to seek out the must-find’s for gluten-free stops along the way. On my latest trip up the 101 to San Mateo County, I stopped at some old favorites while finding new gems along the way. Here’s just a handful of cafes and restaurants that are kicking it up the California coast for gluten-free plates. Bon appetite!

RedBrick Pizza, Ventura

Gluten-free pizza is one of the most tricky to conquer, am I right? While some crusts try too hard and end up either over cooked or dough-y, the biggest complaint I have with gluten-free pizza crusts? Those thinner than a cracker. Luckily, none of these concerns are on my mind when I’m passing through Ventura and pull off to RedBrick Pizza. RedBrick delivers an ideal “middle ground” crust that almost doesn’t seem gluten-free.

In addition to pizza, RedBrick also offers insanely delicious gelato as well as wine and beer, including a gluten-free option. Perfect pit stop whether you’re craving a cheesy pie or need to satisfy that sweet tooth.

Lilac Pâtisseri, Santa Barbara

Lilac Pâtisserie is pretty special. Nestled on Santa Barbara’s famous State street, this is a 100% gluten-free bakery and bistro. Specializing in some of the most beautiful cakes and baked goods I’ve ever seen, Lilac Pâtisserie is open daily for breakfast and lunch and also sells loaves of thick-cut gluten-free bread. Baked fresh and in-house. You read right.

I arrived early and eager when I began my trek up the 101. The aroma of fresh-baked bread was heavenly, and the thought that I could eat any of it made it even more so. I ordered up an eggs and veggie omelette with a side of their rosemary olive toast. The service was prompt and the plate delicious. Their bread is indeed thick and in no way resembles the “gluten-free” bread that we often buy at the store (and out of the freezer).

If you’re in a rush, run in and grab some baked goodies like a cupcake or cookie, and don’t forget a top-notch coffee treat to keep you fueled.

Omelette breakfast at Lilac Pâtisserie. (c) Mary Farah
Gluten-free cakes at Lilac Pâtisserie! (c) Mary Farah
Moxie Cafe, Santa Maria

Gluten-free? Tri-tip fan? Vegetarian? You’re in luck. Western-centric Santa Maria, just down from Pismo Beach, has an array of terrific restaurants and one in particular to take note of is Moxie Cafe. Originally a weekday cafe to serve the local medical buildings and staff in the surrounding areas, Moxie has blossomed into one of the most beloved cafes in the valley.

Famous for their tri-tip chili (I’ve had it. You should, too.), Moxie also offers delicious, locally sourced salads, sandwiches, a breakfast menu and live music on the weekends.

Mint+Craft, San Luis Obispo

No matter what time of the day your pit stop finds you in this great “SLO” town, Mint+Craft, located in the heart of Downtown on Monterey street, will have you covered. Opening up at 8am daily to serve up their local-favorite toasties (various breakfast sandwiches that are available on gluten-free bread) as well as egg plates and house favorite chorizo hash. Arrive later in the day and enjoy options like grain bowls (all gluten-free), salads and happy hour specials on wine and beer from 3-6.

Don’t make your stop too quick in San Luis Obispo. This is one of my favorite cities along the 101. Obscure landmarks like Bubblegum Alley and their weekly Thursday night market is what makes this college town so fun and happening.

Tri-tip chili at Moxie Cafe. (c) Mary Farah
Toastie at Mint+Craft. (c) Mary Farah
Brown Butter Cookie Company, Cayucos

I adore small beach towns off Highway 1. Cayucos, with a population of under 3,000, is the mother of “small beach towns” and I love it more each time I stop off. While the solitude along their beach stretch is one of the reasons that keeps me coming back, I’ll admit: Cayucos has some of the best cookies you’ll ever find.

As fragrant as the beach air is, a walk into Brown Butter Cookie Company will entice you like no other. Opened daily, the company is the master minds of sisters, Traci and Christa. What started out as a cookie shop in Cayucos has turned into a country-wide favorite thanks to online ordering and more store fronts popping up along San Luis Obispo County.

While they’ve got an array of cookies that do contain gluten, rest assured as their famous brown butter cookie IS available gluten-free, as well as one additional GF flavor each day. Buy ’em individually, or do yourself a favor and just buy a few packs of each.

Linn’s Restaurant and Bakery, Cambria

Oh, Linn’s. How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This Central Coast staple in the heart of adorable Cambria serves up comfort foods and American favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as boasting a bakery with several items featuring their secret ingredient, olallieberry.

Since Celiac is in the family, a great portion of menu items can be prepared gluten-free and boy, do they know how to make ’em. From omelets and savory favorites to gluten-free pancakes for the AM, and burgers, sandwiches, pastas and more for lunch and dinner, there’s something for everyone at Linn’s. If you’re just stopping off for a sweet and coffee, grab a slice of GF cheesecake, olallieberry pie or muffin and a java at either the restaurant’s bakery or their equally as awesome Easy as Pie Cafe around the corner.

Brown Butter Cookie Company. (c) Mary Farah
YUM! (c) Mary Farah
Moon Stone Beach Omelette at Linn’s. (c) Michael Farah
Gluten-free chocolate cake with berry drizzle, only at Linn’s. (c) Michael Farah
Hit the (gluten-free) Road

These are just a few of notable spots I’ve found. If I didn’t list one you think I should, make sure to let me know! xo


  1. Natural Temptation

    December 9, 2019 at 5:51 am

    Excellent explanation, it’s simple & focus. Keep up the great work!

  2. Toni Waterman

    February 25, 2020 at 6:35 am

    The concern, from what I understand, when eating in regular restaurants that offer gluten free dishes is cross contamination. Cross contamination from utensils going from one dish to another and surfaces that might be shared.

    1. AlongComesMary

      February 25, 2020 at 11:15 am

      That’s definitely a concern for many GF people! I know Linn’s has separate areas to prep and Lilac is a 100% GF facility 😉

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