Gluten-Free Along the Central Coast: Part Two

Despite this year has been anything but normal, one thing is for sure: I still love to eat. Last summer found me going up California’s Central Coast  to San Mateo County. While plans were in store to return this month, Covid decided to take care of that. Nevertheless, I just returned from a fantastic venture to Paso Robles. My first proper road trip since February! Of course, several gluten-free stops were on the itinerary. So many, that I decided a sequel to this post was necessary. 

While some cafes are offering dine-in, I decided to enjoy my eats on the go. From the comfort and safety of my car, I enjoyed beach views while noshing on some old reliables and new favorites. Read on to discover my latest must-tries for you. All gluten-free and even some vegan options. Happy eating. 

Harvest Cafe, Ventura 

We’re actually moving in a few weeks to Ventura County, and my first thought was: I’ll be closer to the Central Coast and Harvest Cafe. A one hundred percent gluten-free facility, Harvest offers a delicious array of vegan and some carnivore plates. My go-to is usually their vegan mac and cheese. Creamy cashew “cheeze” topped with herbs never fails to hit the GF spot. I also love their polenta bowl with mushroom gravy, locally-grown fresh herbs and greens. I think anyone following a gluten-free diet will tell you the thrill of finding gravy, am I right? 

Next on the agenda to try at Harvest will be their lineup of smoothies. Perfect for a grab ‘n go if you’re road tripping. 

Savoy Cafe and Deli, Santa Barbara

On my way up to Paso, I started my trek early in order to get a good breakfast. After some research, I decided that would go down at Savoy Cafe and Deli in Santa Barbara. A cozy, open space with general store vibes, Savoy was seriously one of the best breakfasts I’d had in awhile. A slew of offerings for meat-lovers and vegans alike, I was most impressed with my side of gluten-free toast that accompanied my protein plate. With a choice of white or ancient grain, I chose the latter and was extremely pleased at its hearty texture and thick, “bread-y” ways. 

They also had a terrific selection of local wines, coffee and teas. The kicker? Depeche Mode God himself, Martin L. Gore has hosted DJ sets here! Sign me up. 

Good Seed Coffee Boutique, Solvang

As close as Solvang is to my heart, it’s hard to admit that I’ve yet to find many gluten-free friendly places in town. Mortensen’s and Birkholm’s Bakeries do often have a GF choice or two, but not much to write home about. Thank goodness for Good Seed Coffee Boutique. Granted, it’s a coffeehouse and not a bistro, yet you can pick up delicious specialties like their hearty Monkey Bar or a slice of pumpkin and chocolate loaf, daily. Sans gluten. 

Located in the center of town along busy Mission Drive, they also know a thing or two about caffeine favorites. I was feeling awfully sleepy and knew a Starbucks matcha latte wouldn’t cut it. Good Seed’s matcha over ice was top-notch with oat milk and a slight pump of simple syrup. I’ll definitely be back next time I visit my hometown. 

New Frontiers, Solvang

That being said about Solvang, a good bet for gluten-free (and vegan) options is at the nearby natural foods market, New Frontiers. Think of it as a small town Whole Foods. A fully loaded deli has many entrees and salads by the pound, as well as a hot bar. An intimate coffee bar gives you another chance for a java or tea pick-me-up, and plenty of baked goods. 

New Frontiers is also great to grab some Central Coast road trip grub and snacks like chips, crackers, and fruit. From there, you can hop onto Alamo Pintado and catch the 101 from Los Olivos. 

Big Sky Cafe, San Luis Obispo

If you’re craving a hearty meal, check out Big Sky Cafe. As a breakfast lover, that’s all I’ve enjoyed when visiting, but they offer an impressive lunch and dinner menu as well. Most dishes can be prepared gluten-free and they have great GF bread. The staff is fantastic and knowledgeable, so let them know what your needs are and they’ll assist. 

Located in the heart of the great “SLO” town of San Luis Obispo, take your time visiting and check out the slew of boutiques and shops to be enjoyed. 

Thomas Hill Organics, Paso Robles

Hands down, some of the finest meals Mike and I have enjoyed have been at Thomas Hill Organics. Nestled in adorable Downtown Paso Robles on Park Street, the five star dining experience offers a farm-to-table approach and always serves what’s in season. Given that the stand out plates boast fresh seafoods, meats, and vegetables, most plates are naturally gluten-free. No junk, nothing artificial, and always outstanding. 

Thomas Hill recently began serving weekend brunch, and offers a great wine list. If there’s one “splurge” you make on your coastal road trip, I highly recommend it be here. 

Bless Your Heart Bakery, Paso Robles

Another one hundred percent gluten-free facility! I awoke early on my final day in Paso and was eager to check out Bless Your Heart. Granted, I discovered they didn’t open until ten AM. You can bet I was first in line to see what the goodies available were. I ended up taking quite the little stash with me for my ride home, and everything was outstanding. 

As a huge lover of SLO DO Donut Company in San Luis Obispo, I reluctantly decided to take a cake donut from Bless Your Heart in addition to my lemon keto bars, cookies, and cupcake. The verdict? It was on par with SLO DO, without a doubt. I also appreciated how soft and fresh the donut stayed since I didn’t enjoy it until having been home for a day. SLO DO’s are always great, yet I find best enjoyed as soon as I buy. I’ve been sold and already cannot wait to return. 

True Earth Market, Cambria

Although there’s no lack of gluten-free goodness in adorable Cambria (I’m looking at you, Linn’s), True Earth Market  is always worth stopping in to. Much like New Frontiers, True Earth is a great stop along the Central Coast for on-the-go snacks and foods in addition to a deli and bakery department with grab and go foods and many GF baked goodies. This stop found me nabbing a gluten-free and vegan brownie that I devoured within minutes. No regrets. 

In these Covid times, I was impressed that they requested you queue up before entering, and you must be wearing a mask, as are all of the staff members. Hand sanitizer stations are also available. 

So, these are my latest must-eats up the Central Coast. Which will you try? xo