Gluten-Free in California’s San Mateo County & Giveaway ends 9/24!

Just a stone’s throw from San Francisco lays the beautiful San Mateo County. While known as being home to the likes of Facebook and Google, San Mateo County offers visitors the chance to experience wine tasting, hiking, beach time and of course, incredible cuisine. I’ve been fortunate to visit twice and both times have discovered an abundance of gluten-free dining.

What makes San Mateo County such a special spot for eating out is their As Fresh As It Gets program. As Fresh As It Gets ties together the area’s hospitality, agriculture, fishing and wine and beer making industries, rewarding and promoting establishments serving the county’s outstanding fresh and local products. As someone who seeks out the farm-to-table approach, San Mateo County is rocking it for sure.

For this introduction gluten-free guide to San Mateo County, I’ve combined highlights from my first trip back in 2016 with new finds on my visit this past summer. Enjoy and rest assured you’ll too enjoy some of the freshest foods around when you eat, drink and get merry in San Mateo County!

Par 3 Bar and Grill, San Mateo

One of the gem’s of the county is the Poplar Creek Golf Course. While outside there may be traffic, noise and “city life”, escape that hustle and bustle when you arrive for a meal or a few rounds of drinks at their newly relaunched bar and grill. When Alicia Petrakis, owner of the nearby Three Craft Kitchen and Bar, saw an opportunity to take over and give the grill a facelift, the local entrepreneur jumped at the chance. Thus, Par 3 was born.

I’ve enjoyed a quick bite or the weak happy hour cocktail at a golf course before. Trust me, that will not be the experience when you dine or host your event at Par 3. With nearly 10,000 square feet and impeccable views all around, Par 3 is the ideal place to grab breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks.

I enjoyed such a fantastic breakfast with my hosts from Visit San Mateo County and Alicia. Several items throughout the menu boast the “GF” indicator and if there’s something you’re eyeing yet are unsure if it’s safe, just ask. Alicia and her staff are committed to making your meal at Par 3 the best possible and have created a beautiful space overlooking Poplar Creek and the golf course.

Three Craft Kitchen and Bar, San Mateo

It was great to see Alicia again at Par 3 as she recalled when I visited her first “baby”, Three Craft Kitchen and Bar, back in 2016. Three offers a cozy, colorful space in the heart of San Mateo with American comfort fare and a full bar that makes Three the casual locals favorite where everybody knows your name.

During my lunch some moons ago, we gathered around their communal table and enjoyed a feast with some of the bistro’s most beloved dishes. Another As Fresh As It Gets favorite, Three cooks up seasonal plates alongside menu faves like ratatouille and a brown buttered beet and citrus salad.

While Three has a good handful of GF items, they do make it clear they don’t offer a dedicated fryer and are not able to guarantee cross-contamination.

Breakfast magic at Par 3. (c) Mary Farah
Check out those views at Par 3. (c) Mary Farah
Margaritas at Sixto’s. (c) Mary Farah
Shrimp fajitas at Sixto’s. (c) Mary Farah
Sixto’s Cantina, Burlingame

When I approached Sixto’s Cantina, it was clear to see that I was in the right place. Smack dab in the center of Burlingame avenue, Sixto’s offers an incredibly authentic Mexican dining experience with a tequila and cocktail menu to boot.

With the summer heat cranking during my visit, the front patio was hopping and the drinks flowing when I arrived. Despite no wait, I decided on a table right by the window to enjoy a glimpse of the action both inside and out. I soon met owner, Francesca Tashjian, and discovered that much like Three’s Alicia Petrakis, she is a woman of many talents. Opening Sixto’s in 2012, Tashjian is no stranger to the restaurant industry, owning Alana’s Café, just a few doors down, since 1993.

While I had no health issues and devoured my shrimp fajitas, Sixto’s does have gluten in some un-assuming plates and cannot guarantee no cross-contamination. Their chips are not fried along with wheat, but their house made salsa contains a dash of soy sauce, as do their fajitas (Francesca made sure the kitchen skipped it for me). To enjoy their chips, I recommend an order of fresh made guacamole and double-check with the staff in regards to your options. My sizzling fajitas reminded me of the atmosphere at Sixto’s: colorful and vibrant.

As a margarita lover, selecting a drink was hard as Sixto’s is known for its tequila and cocktail menu. Their cranberry orange turned out to be the winner, and it didn’t disappoint. Strong, fruity and ice cold. Just what I needed on that warm summer evening!

Pasta Moon, Half Moon Bay

Ask anyone on a gluten-free diet what food they miss, and often it’s pasta. I know it is for me. I try as many as I can find sans gluten, to only have a handful be even a bit close to the “real” thing. Thank goodness for restaurants like Pasta Moon, a proud As Fresh As It Gets award recipient of San Mateo County. A favorite and must-eat in Half Moon Bay, Pasta Moon is known for its array of homemade, authentic pasta dishes like lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo.

When they say homemade, they mean everything. Including their gluten-free pasta, pizza crusts and bread. Instead of pasta that quickly became sticky and dry, my plate at Pasta Moon was classic al dente pasta.

Visit Pasta Moon when you’re craving a delicious Italian lunch or maybe a nice date evening. Make sure to specify your gluten-free needs and they’ll take care of you.

La Costanera, Montara Beach

La Costanera was a highlight of my first SMC trip. Overlooking the ocean (you can literally step onto the beach from the patio), this Peruvian-inspired restaurant has something for everyone, even the fussiest eater, on their menu. It was one of my first experiences eating a Peruvian meal yet as soon as I saw items like paella and plantains I knew I was on board.

Known for their cocktails and Pisco Sour (if you drink, don’t leave without having one), La Costanera offers some of the most breathtaking views you’ll find of the San Francisco Bay coastline and is ideal no matter what you’re looking for. Kids in tow, date night, solo meal.

While they also cannot guarantee no cross contamination, they offer menus should you be gluten-free, vegan and/or vegetarian.

Lunch at Pasta Moon. (c) Mary Farah
Seafood Paella at La Costanera. (c) Mary Farah
37 North at DoubleTree San Francisco Airport

During my last stay in San Mateo County, I had such wonderful accommodations provided by the DoubleTree in Burlingame, just around the corner from San Francisco Airport. Along with my gorgeous room that overlooked the San Francisco Bay, I was so impressed with their restaurant and bar, 37 North.

I had the opportunity to chat with Chef Paul, 37 North’s head chef, about his vision and menu for the hotel’s dining room. While I’d thought that their morning buffet seemed “above the rest” compared to the often substantial yet predictable “continental breakfast”, I learned from Paul that 37 North is another proud As Fresh As It Gets member. It shows.

My scrumptious breakfast included warm, fluffy scrambled eggs and just out of the skillet breakfast potatoes. Both foods are locally sourced within town, and even the orange juice is freshly squeezed. If you pop in for lunch or dinner, expect that same level of fresh with items like street tacos and even the Impossible burger. Chef Paul has curated an extensive menu with terrific options whether you’re gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan.

Win a Copy of San Mateo County’s As Fresh As It Gets Cookbook!

How would you like to check out several of the recipes I’ve mentioned from the restaurants and As Fresh As It Gets award winners in San Mateo County? It just so happens they published a cookbook awhile back that’s loaded with some of the most beloved dishes coming out of the area. I have 1 copy to give away and all you have to do is follow the form below to enter. Last day to enter will be on September 24th.

Check out my sweepstakes rules and enter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Eat your way (Gluten-Free) through San Mateo County

Clearly, this is a small round-up. San Mateo County is crawling with a plethora of restaurants and cafes that are rocking it at gluten-free dining. With the most wonderful time of year upon us (I’m looking at you, Halloween), San Mateo County always has something fun happening that’ll make you want to play by the bay. Learn more and plan your visit HERE. xo

(*Disclosure: I was a guest of San Mateo County. All opinions are my own and I cannot thank them enough for these wonderful itineraries.)