Gluten free restaurants in Santa Cruz

Are you looking for a place where you can get a gluten free sit down meal in Santa Cruz? Or maybe you are looking for a place where you can grab a gluten free meal on the go? Well either way, you are in the right place! In this article, we discuss all of our favorite gluten free restaurants in Santa Cruz.

For each restaurant we discuss in this article, we will provide information on a set of characteristics to help you determine which restaurant best suits your preferences. We start this article by discussing those characteristics. After that, we will discuss some of our favorite fast casual restaurants that offer gluten free options in Santa Cruz. Then we will discuss our favorite sit down restaurants that offer gluten free restaurants in Santa Cruz.

Characteristics of gluten free restaurants in Santa Cruz

For each gluten free restaurant in Santa Cruz, we will provide information on a set of characteristics to help you decide which restaurants best suit your preferences. Here are the characteristics that we will provide information on.

  • Gluten free status. First, we will discuss the gluten free status of each restaurant. This will include information on whether the restaurant is dedicated to gluten free food or not. If a restaurant is not a dedicated gluten free facility, we will also provide information that can help to assess the risk of cross contamination. This will include information on how many gluten containing ingredients are used in their kitchen. It will also include information on whether there are dedicated gluten free appliances, such as dedicated gluten free fryers.
  • Other dietary restrictions. After that, we will discuss whether there are any other food allergies or dietary restrictions that each restaurant caters to. Some of these restaurants cater to a variety of food allergies and dietary restrictions, whereas others specifically cater to gluten free foodies.
  • Cuisine. Next, we will discuss the food that is served at each restaurant. This will include information on the main type of cuisine that the menu takes inspiration from. It will also include information on any specialties that the restaurant has.
  • Atmosphere. After that, we will discuss the atmosphere at each restaurant. This will include information on the energy level and the level of formality for each restaurant. It will also include information on the decor and the ambiance at each restaurant.
  • Location. Next, we will discuss the location of each restaurant. This will include information on whether the restaurant is located in Santa Cruz proper or a neighboring suburb. It will also include information on whether each restaurant is located in a bustling downtown area or a more rural area.
  • Seating. Finally, we will discuss the seating options that are available at each restaurant. This will include information on whether indoor seating or outdoor seating is available. It will also include information on whether reservations are recommended.

Gluten free fast casual restaurants in Santa Cruz

We will start out by discussing some of our favorite casual restaurants that offer gluten free options in the Santa Cruz area. We will list these restaurants roughly in order of preference, with our favorite restaurants appearing close to the top of the list.

Pretty Good Advice

Pretty Good Advice is without a doubt our absolute favorite place to grab a gluten free meal in the Santa Cruz area. Pretty Good Advice is a vegetarian burger restaurant that sells vegetarian versions of classic fast food items such as cheeseburgers and fried chicken sandwiches. Their food is indulgent, flavorful, and all around delicious. The vast majority of their menu is or can be made gluten free and they take precautions to prevent cross contamination when handling allergy food. They have the best gluten free burger buns that we have ever had.

  • Gluten free status. Pretty Good Advice is not a dedicated gluten free facility. That being said, the vast majority of their menu is gluten free or can be made gluten free with substitutions. They are very knowledgeable about food allergies and take precautions to prevent cross contamination when handling gluten free items. They have a labeled menu that shows which items are naturally gluten free. The menu also notes items that cannot be made gluten free.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Pretty Good Advice is an entirely vegetarian restaurant, so it is the perfect place to go if you have people in your party that maintain a vegetarian diet. Many of their items can also be made vegan friendly upon request. Their famous vegetarian burger patty is made without gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, or animal products, so it is a great option for those with food allergies.
  • Cuisine. Pretty Good Advice is a vegetarian burger restaurant that serves vegetarian and vegan versions of classic fast food items. Their menu is made up of dishes like hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and breakfast sandwiches. They also have salads available for those who are looking for something lighter.
  • Atmosphere. Pretty Good Advice is a casual spot that is primarily located outdoors. They have one window that you can walk up to in order to place your order and another window where you can pick up your food.
  • Location.
  • Seating. Pretty Good Advice has a limited amount of seating available and all of the seating that is available is located outdoors. This is a very popular spot that generally has a line around the corner, so people often get creative with their seating arrangements.
Veggie Burger from Pretty Good Advice in Santa Cruz, California
Veggie Burger from Pretty Good Advice in Santa Cruz, California

Pana Venezuelan Food Truck

Pana Venezuelan Food Truck is a wonderful food truck that serves some of the best arepas in Northern California. They carry a variety of arepas that range from vegan plantain arepas to loaded chicken arepas that are stuffed with shredded chicken, mayo, avocado, and cheese. They also have a variety of flavorful sauces that you can put on your arepas to dress them up. In addition to being delicious, the arepas at Pana are huge. That means that this is the perfect place to go after working up an appetite hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains or surfing in the Pacific Ocean.

  • Gluten free status. Pana is a dedicated gluten free facility.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Pana also has a variety of vegan and vegetarian options. Their standard vegan option comes with beans, plantains, avocados, and tomatoes. They have a few vegetarian options that are made with various combinations of their vegan ingredients and flavorful cheeses.
  • Cuisine. Pana is a Venezuelan food truck that primarily serves Arepas.
  • Atmosphere. Pana is a food truck that sometimes also does pop ups in indoor kitchens. This is a great place to go if you are looking for a casual place to grab a meal on the go.
  • Location. Since Pana is primarily a food truck, their location can vary from day to day. Most days, they have at least one active location in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz.
  • Seating. The seating options that are available at Pana can vary depending on where they are stationed for the day. Most of the locations that they frequent have outdoor tables and picnic benches available.
Arepas from Pana in Santa Cruz, California
Arepas from Pana in Santa Cruz, California

Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches

Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches is a casual spot with a menu that centers around fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches. They also offer fried mushroom sandwiches, as well as sides like french fries and macaroni and cheese, for those who maintain a vegetarian diet. While Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches is not a dedicated gluten free facility, the vast majority of their menu can be made gluten free upon request. This is a hugely popular spot with gluten free foodies that is known for taking excellent measures to prevent cross contamination.

  • Gluten free status. Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches is not a dedicated gluten free facility. That being said, the vast majority of their menu can be made gluten free upon request. There is information on their menu about what can and cannot be made gluten free. They also take measures to prevent cross contamination when making gluten free items.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches also has a variety of vegetarian options available.
  • Cuisine. Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches has a small menu that centers around fried chicken and fried chicken sandwiches. There are also vegetarian options that use fried mushrooms in place of fried chicken. They also carry popular sites that complement fried chicken like coleslaw, fries, and macaroni and cheese.
  • Atmosphere. Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches is a casual spot with trendy decor and carefully chosen lighting fixtures that enhance the ambiance. This is a fun spot with a lively atmosphere because many people come here to grab a meal with friends.
  • Location. Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches is located in Santa Cruz. It is in a neighborhood that has a mixture of residential and commercial buildings. There are a few other restaurants nearby.
  • Seating. There is a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating available at Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches. Seating is usually plentiful and it is easy to find a seat.
Fries from Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches in Santa Cruz, California
Macaroni and cheese from Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches in Santa Cruz, California

Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery

Melinda’s Gluten Free Bakery is a cute little bakery that is located in the city of Capitola. They have a large and varied selection of items that ranges from donuts and cinnamon rolls to savory croissant sandwiches. This is one of the best places to go if you are looking for gluten free baked goods in the Santa Cruz area.

  • Gluten free status. As the name suggests, Melinda’s is a dedicated gluten free bakery.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Melinda’s also has vegan options available. That being said, they do not usually have a huge selection of vegan items available.
  • Cuisine. Melinda’s is a bakery that sells a mixture of sweet and savory items. Their sweet selections include items like donuts, cinnamon rolls, brownies, muffins, and glazed danishes. Their savory selections include things like croissants, baguettes, and sandwich bread.
  • Atmosphere. Melinda’s is a cozy little bakery that has a laid back and casual atmosphere.
  • Location. Melinda’s is located in the city of Capitola, just outside of Santa Cruz. It is located in a small strip mall that has a few other restaurants and shops. It is not located in a major downtown area.
  • Seating. Melinda’s has a limited amount of indoor seating. There are a few tables available for those who would like to dine in. Most people take their food to go, so it is often possible to get a table without waiting.
Donut from Melinda's in Capitola, California
Baked goods from Melinda's in Capitola, California

Windmill Cafe

Windmill Cafe is another fast casual spot that has a large number of gluten free offerings. Windmill Cafe is a cozy little cafe in a historic windmill building. While it is not a dedicated gluten free facility, most items on the menu are or can be made gluten free. They have a varied menu that features American-inspired breakfast offerings (like gluten free French toast) and Asian-inspired lunch items (like Thai Curry and vegetable stir fry). Their food does not pack as much flavor as the food at Chubbs Chicken Sandwiches or Pretty Good Advice, but they are a reliable spot that you can count on if you are in search of a safe gluten free meal.

  • Gluten free status. Windmill Cafe is not a dedicated gluten free facility. That being said, many of the items on their menu are or can be made gluten free. They label their menu with information on which items are gluten free and take precautions to prevent cross contamination when making gluten free items.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Windmill Cafe also has a variety of vegan options available. There are both breakfast items and lunch items that are or can be made vegan friendly.
  • Cuisine. There are two different types of cuisines that are carried at Windmill Cafe. On one hand, they have a variety of American-inspired breakfast and lunch items like French toast, breakfast burritos, and turkey sandwiches. On the other hand, they have a variety of Asian-inspired lunch items like Thai curry, vegetable stir fry, and Thai noodle bowls.
  • Atmosphere. Windmill Cafe is a cute little cafe that is located in a historic building with a lot of character. Specifically, it is located in a historic windmill building that still has a windmill attached to the front of the building. This is a cozy spot that has a lot of character and feels inviting.
  • Location. Windmill Cafe is located on the outskirts of Santa Cruz. It is in an area that has a few other restaurants and shops around, but it is not necessarily in a bustling downtown area.
  • Seating. There is a mixture of indoor and outdoor seating available at Windmill Cafe. The indoor seating area is somewhat small, but there is more seating available on the patio. Seating can be a little competitive during peak weekend brunch hours (especially on holiday weekends), but it is generally possible to find a seat without waiting long.
French toast from Windmill Cafe in Santa Cruz, California
Curry noodle bowl from Windmill Cafe in Santa Cruz, California

Gluten free sit down restaurants in Santa Cruz

Now that we have discussed some of our favorite fast casual restaurants in Santa Cruz, we will take some time to discuss our favorite sit down restaurants that offer gluten free options in the Santa Cruz area.

Sawasdee Thai

Sawasdee Thai is a cute Thai restaurant that is located in the neighboring city of Soquel. While Sawasdee Thai does not make the best Thai food that we have ever had, it is a solid option that is safe for those who are sensitive to cross contamination. There are not many sit down restaurants we can say that about in the Santa Cruz area, so Sawasdee is a welcome addition to our dining rotation.

  • Gluten free status. Sawasdee Thai is not a dedicated gluten free facility. That being said, many of the items on their menu can be made gluten free upon request. Gluten free items are not labeled on the main menu, but the servers are knowledgeable and can provide assistance to anyone who is looking for a gluten free option. The kitchen is knowledgeable about food allergies and they take precautions to prevent cross contamination if you let them know that you are sensitive to cross contamination.
  • Other dietary restrictions. Sawasdee Thai also has vegetarian and vegan dishes available. Unlike most Thai restaurants, they do not use fish sauce in their kitchen. That means that this is a friendly location for people who maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet, as well as people who have allergies to fish or shellfish.
  • Cuisine. Sawasdee Thai is a Thai restaurant. Their menu contains items like noodle dishes, fried rice, and Thai curry.
  • Atmosphere. Sawasdee Thai has a relatively laid back atmosphere. The staff are very welcoming and accommodating, so the atmosphere feels very warm and inviting.
  • Location. Sawasdee Thai is located in the neighboring city of Soquel. It is not located in a bustling downtown area itself, but it is located in an area that has a few other restaurants and shops around.
  • Seating. Most of the seating at Sawasdee Thai is located indoors. It is generally possible to get in without a reservation, but they can get busy during peak weekend dinner hours. It may be wise to call ahead if you plan to attend during a popular time.
Curry from Sawasdee Thai in Sequel, California
Mango sticky rice from Sawasdee Thai in Sequel, California

Other restaurants with gluten free options in Santa Cruz

Before we wrap up, we will take a moment to mention a few other restaurants that offer gluten free options in the Santa Cruz area. These are restaurants that we have only visited once or twice, so we do not have as much to say about them. That being said, they still have some great gluten free options available.

Roxa Hammock Cafe

Roxa Hammock Cafe is a really unique spot in downtown Santa Cruz that is worth visiting at least once just for the experience. As the name suggests, Roxa Hammock Cafe is a cafe that is lined with hammocks that you can relax in as you enjoy your food and drinks. Their menu consists of an array of snacks, light refreshments, and açaí bowls – all of which are entirely gluten free!

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