My Top 10 Gluten Free Restaurants in Orange County
If you are on a paleo or gluten free diet Orange County has tons of options available to you. Here are some of our favorites we have come across in our foodie adventures
These guys don't quite make it into the top 10 but they worth knowing about!
Sensitive Sweets- Fountain Valley
Sensitive Sweets is a bakery that is entirely gluten and nut free, and mostly vegan. They have so many different yummy treats such as: cookies, donuts, truffles, bread pudding cupcakes and so much more. We get super excited when we find a gluten free bakery for our post workout goodies. This place is extra cool because its actually where I proposed! The cake was sitting in the display case and she was completely in shock!
Flappy Jacks Pancake House- Orange
I have tried so many gluten free waffles/ pancakes and am almost always utterly disappointed. It's so disheartening to pick at stiff cardboard like circles while someone at the next table has a wonderful fluffy delicious stack of gluten filled pancakes. Luckily there is Flappy Jacks. This place has tons of different gluten free waffles and pancakes to choose from. Some of my favorites include: blueberry, pecan, bacon, and banana nut but they are all wonderful. It is not the healthiest place in the world so we (usually) order it without the whipped cream and powdered sugar. (we also bring our own 100% maple syrup and kerrygold butter... seriously)
Mastro's Ocean Club- Newport Coast
I'm very lucky to have some of the coolest clients in the world and a couple took me out to this hotspot in newport coast for my birthday. The often have grass-fed steaks and we ended up splitting a 30oz grass-fed tomahawk steak. It was amazing and they have many gluten free options on their menu and are accommodating as well. I don't remember the exact dessert we got but it was very rich and chocolatey!
The Ranch- Anaheim
The Ranch may be our favorite place to dine in orange county and often come for special occasions. Their wait staff and kitchen crew are extremely accommodating and can make almost any dish gluten free if asked. The menu is farm to table using local sources and changes seasonally. They offer grass fed lamb chops, organic chicken, and from time to time have grass fed steaks. The Ranch is one of those places where you are going to leave having spent a lot of money, but having no regrets because it was well worth it.
Tabu Shabu- Costa Mesa
Something I was unfamiliar with before I moved out here from Texas was hotpot. This is where you choose your base broth and cook your meat/vegetables/noodles yourself. It is one of my styles of food, even if I have to clumsily eat them with chopsticks. Tabu Shabu offers gluten free shirataki noodles as well as grass fed ribeye.
Burger Lounge- Costa Mesa
Grass-fed cheeseburger are my favorite "cheat meal" and burger lounge has the best IMO. I usually opt for a double grass fed patty burger on a gluten free bun. They also have other healthy options like the paleo burger (has bacon and zucchini with no bun), bison burgers, and lamb burgers. Some of these are seasonal.
The Playground- Santa Ana
The playground is a foodie hotspot so you will need to plan ahead and get a reservation. Run by a renowned chef who has been featured on chopped, this menu is fresh and extremely unique. Unfortunately you can't make any substitutions but there are options for those of us that are paleo, and this place cannot be missed if you are in Orange County. Last time we went I had a whole snapper with green papaya spaghetti, an apple fennel salad, and this amazing vegan dish. It was charred sushi rice in a skillet with salted coconut cream, macadamia nuts, pickled veggies, and avocado served with butter leaf lettuce wraps. This is the best vegan dish I have ever had! They also serve a pork chop the size of your head covered with maple syrup.
Sidecar Donuts- Costa Mesa
Sidecar donuts is one of the most unique and busy donut shops you'll see. They have some great options like huckleberry, maple bacon, and buttermilk drops along with some very cool monthly flavors. For example; this month features a passion fruit pavlova and cookie dough flavor. Every week they offer one gluten free option, and with this being right across the street from Burger Lounge, it often ends up being a part of my post workout gorge.
#10 Nirvana Grille - Laguna Beach
Located in downtown Laguna Beach, Nirvana Grill calls its menu "clean California fare" with American, French, and Latin influences. The menu changes seasonally with the local produce and all the chicken is free range while only the ground beef is grass-fed. There are also quite a few vegetarian dishes.
We have only been here once and it was during their spring seasonal menu. We had a scallop appetizer, she ordered a prawn and polenta dish and I ordered a squash risotto with chicken breast. We also shared a slow roasted pulled pork dish with apples and root vegetables.
While we didn't eat dessert this time they do have some yummy looking gluten free options! They offer a flourless chocolate tort, carrot cake, and mason jar strawberry cheesecake.
#9 Seasons 52- Costa Mesa
As you can guess the menu here is influenced and changed seasonally. This place not only has a very extensive gluten free menu they also have lactose free, vegan, and vegetarian menus. Their gluten free menu has flat breads and a number of gluten free entrees. My favorite plate would have to be the shrimp and grits with chorizo and bacon but the salmon and sea scallops are both awesome as well.
#8 Newport Naples Rib Co.- Costa Mesa
I'm a native Texan so when I find out a BBQ place has an extensive gluten and casein free menu you know I'm gonna check it out. How could I possibly pass up my opportunity to once again enjoy my beloved cornbread.
Much of the menu can be made gluten free including the sandwiches. I went with the good ole fashioned baby back ribs. It is tough to be gluten free and find places where you can eat BBQ. Usually the sauce has some hidden in it, many of the sides wont be options and you"re often left feeling a little deprived. Newport Naples avoids that by offering gluten free dinner rolls, gluten free corn bread, and no hidden gluten in their sauce. On the dessert menu there is a gluten free molten cake that we have yet to try, but will report back soon once we have!
#7 Green Tomato Grill- Orange/Brea
This place is pretty cool. There are not many places that offer gluten free fried green tomatoes! In fact their entire menu can be made gluten free and my clients with celiacs love the fact that they can order and enjoy things like burritos, flatbreads, and wraps. This place is right by one of the gyms I frequent so I have stopped by quite a few occasions for some post workout grub. Its a casual setting where you order at the counter.
They open early and have breakfast options such as scrambles and breakfast burritos. I usually have go for lunch and have tried a few different melts on the gluten free flat bread and they were really good. The fried green tomatoes are BOMB the batter is crispy and spicy hard to believe its gluten free. My favorite dish however is the green chili pork braise. Green Tomato uses Creekstone farms pork which is cage free with no antibiotics.
There are an assortment of gluten free desserts that are made fresh daily and it looks like they have recently added grass fed burgers as well.
#6: Babettes - Newport Coast
This is place couldn't be any more "Newport Coast" If you make your way here for brunch you will surely see a plethora of designer sun dresses and people drinking raw cold pressed juice cocktails. One example of this is the green machine which consists of kale, celery, lime, cucumber and absolut vodka. Yes that is correct, you can get your greens in while getting a buzz.
They do also have an assortment of cool non-alcoholic juices and smoothies with superfood add ons such as: hemp protein, acai, maca, chia, flax and more. Their food menu looks quite extensive although we have only been for brunch. Babette's uses the highest quality foods. Not only are the vegetables local and organic the beef is all grass fed, the eggs are free range, the bacon is from pigs on a ranch that are free to root and roam and there are also a ton of vegetarian options.
Many items are gluten free and they also carry gluten free pancakes. Unfortunately it doesnt look like they offer gluten free buns or bread for the burgers or sandwiches. I have had the tuscan quinoa bowl all three times I've been here, its just that good. In addition to quinoa there is kale, fingerling potatoes, toybox tomatoes, 2 sunny up eggs, and kale and pumpkin seed gremolata. I always add grass fed new york strip steak to it as well. Emmeline had the frittata and gave it two thumbs up.
Although we haven't had dessert there yet there are a couple really good looking gluten free options like the carrot cake and salted chocolate mousse. You can even bring your dog on the patio and get him something like a grass fed burger patty or simply some wellness brand dog food from their dog menu.
In addition to having great food Babette's is located in the beautiful setting of crystal cove just across from one of the prettiest beaches in the USA.
#5 True Food Kitchen- Newport Beach
We frequent this spot since it is basically down the street from us. It is a popular healthy restaurant where everything is organic, grass-fed, and free range with lots of gluten free and vegetarian options as well. Like most restaurants featuring fresh seasonal ingredients the menu often changes but there are some staples you have to try.
Some of my favorites are the spicy panang curry with shrimp, spaghetti squash casserole with chicken breast, and the grass-fed steak tacos. Beverages include the kale-aid juice and kombucha for gut health. The gluten free desserts include a key lime pie, flourless chocolate cake, and a chia seed banana pudding pudding that is just the right amount of sweet.
#4 XA Cafe- Orange
This little spot is a hidden gem for healthy paleo food. I used to pass this place every day on my way to work and never knew what it was. Then one day when I was searching for gluten free places this popped up. After my first time there I was sad that I hadn't discovered this place earlier!
When you first walk in to order at the counter you come across rows and rows of fresh homemade cookies and other baked goods, many of which are gluten free. They have some pretty cool cookie flavors like green tea, rocky road, and peach cobbler. The breakfast options are great and very affordable. My go-to was the egg "crepe" (basically a closed omelette) filled with smoked bacon and cheese with a potato cake or veggies as the side depending on what i'm doing with carbs at the moment.
Their lunch and dinner menu is pretty simple. While they do offer salads, sandwiches, and bowls the most common way to order is to pick a protein, a sauce, and two sides. You can choose from chicken breast, pork loin, wild salmon, smoked pork ribs or smoked bacon among others. The sides are paleo friendly with some of my favorites being: roasted plantains, acorn squash, kobocha squash soup, asparagus, and sweet potato.
But the sauce it what really makes the dish. They have an assortment to choose from, all made in house with the option to purchase and bring home in a cute little mason jar. The bbq sauce has hints of pineapple and goes good with any smoked protein. The blackened cajun has a kick full of flavor and some spice. Honey and spice goes well with the chicken or cod and is an interesting mix of sweetness with an almost curry flavor.
This is a little mom and pop shop so definitely go support them! They are no longer open on the weekends and recently closed their Huntington Beach location. They also offer meal prep and catering as well.
#3 True Seasons Organic Kitchen- Anaheim Hills
If a restaurant has organic in it's own name, you know its gonna be healthy. This is a hotpot style restaurant. All their ingredients are organic and local and they avoid the use of oil in cooking. There are many gluten free and vegan options as well. All the seafood is wild caught and they have grass-fed beef options available. You can also substitute a couple different kinds of gluten free noodles. Their dessert menus change but there is always some yummy gluten free options. Last time we had a chocolate sea salt popsicle.
I always get the hotpot with a spicy miso base and the grass-fed beef. It comes with veggies, gluten free noodles, and rice. You can really feel (and taste) the passion that owner chef Saifon has for her food and chances are you'll see her running around managing the kitchen and restaurant simultaneously.
#2 Maro Wood Grill- Laguna Beach
There are two great things about Argentinian restaurants: all the beef is grass-fed and they have numerous types of malbec wine, which just so happens to be the wifey's favorite. This little steakhouse is right along PCH and has very limited seating, maybe 12 tables total so make sure to get a reservation.
This place uses mesquite wood and traditional argentinian cooking methods. All ingredients are seasonal and local and every cut of steak is grass-fed. The chimichurri sauce is amazing and really makes the dish come together. There is no gluten free menu but many of the meals are simply a protein and veggie. We have been here 3 or 4 times and have tried just about every cut of meat they have. Some of our favorites have been: the lamb chops, baseball steak, short ribs, skirt steak, and the ribeye.
#1 Oceans and Earth- Yorba Linda
This is my new favorite gluten free restaurant in all of orange county. The entire kitchen is dedicated gluten free and all the beef is grass fed and grass finished. This is the only nice sit down restaurant I know of that is entirely gluten free in orange county. We have only been here once but plan on making it up to Yorba Linda a little more often now.
Their brunch menu has pancakes, a breakfast blt sandwich, steak and eggs with grass fed bison skirt steak, breakfast chicken enchiladas, filet tip or lobster omelets, and a few different breakfast flatbreads. We went for dinner and had the "crab bombs" and bbq chicken flatbread as appetizers. The crab bombs are made of lump crab and tempura with avocado chimichurri sauce. The bbq chicken flatbread was delicious! It had grilled jidori chicken breast, pork belly bacon, caramelized bacon, and Truffle BBQ Sauce. The sauce was perfect, great truffle flavor but not overpowering.
For the main entree we ordered the 20oz bone in grass-fed ribeye but they had unfortunately ran out! We will try again next time we come. Emmeline ended up getting a surf and turf meal of scallops and pork belly while I got one of their grass-fed burgers. They have a few options including kobe beef or leaner bison or even turkey. Burgers are served with homemade potato chips which are a great touch. In addition to the steaks some other things I am looking forward to trying are the: lobster mac and cheese, bison steak flatbread, sea bass bouillabaisse, and fried chicken. Our vegetarian friend tried the veggie burger which she said was pretty good.
For dessert we had the "patriotic" cobbler with beaches, raspberries, and blueberries. It was recommended to me by a client and it was yummy! Next time we'll try the cheesecake which is a mix of cow, sheep, and goat milk cheeses.