Gluten-free travelers will love the Space Coast. This beachy stretch of Florida has plenty of top-notch restaurants, and healthy ones, too. This health-conscious and diverse spread means plenty of gluten-free menus.
Some restaurants go full-out, with completely gluten-free fares, like our favorite, Happy Healthy Human, which is raw, organic, vegan and naturally gluten-free. Rodizio Grill is nearly 100 percent gluten-free, as well as free of peanuts and MSG. This Brazilian chain specializes in meats, carved at your table, and also has an unlimited salad bar with dozens of options.
Other restaurants, like D.I.G. Bistro, aren't completely gluten-free, but offer an impressive selection, from smoothies to salads to quinoa recipes. In fact, smoothie options – gluten-free, of course – abound at many coffee shops, like the Sunrise bakery, which also prepares gluten-free baked goods daily. Juice N Java Cafe serves up smoothies for breakfast and even sells gluten-free beer for later.
Want a bigger, sit-down meal? The Jungle Organic Restaurant is known for its gluten-free veggie burger. Most items here can be prepared gluten-free, and often for no additional charge, which is a rarity. When it's time for dessert, head to the Fat Donkey, where gluten-free diners can indulge in a jumbo peanut butter cup.
The Fat Donkey
Dessert is the speciality here. In fact, that's all the Fat Donkey offers. It's a popular dessert restaurant and ice cream parlor ideally located in downtown Cocoa Beach.
Pick up classic favorites, like soft-serve ice cream, as well as some unique offerings, like dessert jars – try the maple bacon jar, trust us – and "smashers," which are basically pie smashed into an ice cream cone. This restaurant also offers seasonal menu items (don't miss the cherry eggnog baked jar if you're visiting the Space Coast in the winter) and also participates in community events around town.
Warm churro ice cream sandwiches are another awesome, indulgent reward after a long day surfing.
At the Fat Donkey, you can also find raw, organic, vegan and gluten-free dessert options. If you're avoiding gluten, try a jumbo peanut butter cup for just $6. (321-652-3126)
Sun Shoppe and Cafe
Sun Shoppe and Cafe, located in the heart of downtown Melbourne for more than a decade, features good selection of coffee, dessert, muffins and bagels.
This popular, quirky coffeehouse serves breakfast all day. Coffee here comes from custom-roasted beans, and the blended "frappe" selection includes some unique concoctions, such as the PB + Mocha. Pastries are made fresh daily. You can also choose from vegetarian and vegan offerings. Looking for a cool, lighter option? The long list of smoothies at the Sun Shoppe are refreshing and inexpensive. If you're more of a tea-drinker than coffee-addict, the Sun Shoppe's selection of teas will warm your belly and start your morning right.
Enjoy free wifi by day, and live music at night. (321-676-1438)
The Jungle Organic Restaurant
This organic restaurant and grocery store features a large selection of gluten-free goodies.
Find new homemade soups every day, with many gluten-free options available for not additional charge (a rare bonus!). The veggie burger is a consistent fave. As expected in Florida, you can also choose from a variety of delicious seafood offerings, such as the also-beloved smoked salmon cristini. Add the freshly grilled catch-of-the-day to your salad or indulge in Caribbean fish tacos with white wine and mango salsa.
Although the prices are a bit higher than other restaurants in the area, the wide selection and atmosphere will not disappoint. Relax by the waterfall and enjoy one of the Space Coast's best gluten-free hangouts.
Here, you can also pick up vitamins, herbal supplements, organic alcohol, natural beauty products and even pet food. (321-773-5678)
Juice N Java Cafe
Juice N Java is a great place to get fresh-roasted coffee wine, craft beers and healthy, fresh, farm-to-table menu options inspired from around the world. This shop is a local fave and has been voted the No. 1 coffee house in Central Florida.
For healthy options check out the fruit smoothies, salads and artisan cheese trays. For a healthy snack, try the chocolate-covered strawberries. Sandwiches come with a variety of bread options to meet your dietary needs or culinary cravings. Juice N Java also offers vegetarian options, like the roma sandwich.
Come and plan to stay; wifi is free and service is excellent. Grab a table outside on a nice day. (321-784-4044)
Sunrise Whole Grain Bakery and Coffee Shop
Sunrise opens at 6 a.m. and stays open until 6 p.m. This family-fun business is a hot gathering place to work, relax and meet. In fact, a local running club and knitting club meet here regularly. There's plenty of space to meet and wifi is free.
Sunrise doesn't only offer (delicious) whole-grain breads. It also bakes muffins, cookies, scones and cinnamon rolls – most from scratch. Bread here is made from 100 percent whole wheat with no additives, and flavored using pure Florida honey. Most bread doesn't contain preservatives, fats or oils.
Gluten-free eaters will be happy to see a small selection for them, too. Curl up with a book, a coffee and a light breakfast upstairs, and prepare for your fun day on the beach. Craving something to cool off? Order a smoothie or iced blended coffee drink. (321-268-1009)
The name says it all: D.I.G. Bistro stands for "dirt inspired goodness." In other words, fresh real food, straight from the soil.
D.I.G. Bistro uses produce and meats grown and raised by local farmers – not the pesticide-laden stuff you can find in the grocery store.
Although the farm-fresh food here is house-made and healthy, it's substantial, too. Indulge in bacon and cheese and and eggs and rich goodness, as well as refreshing drinks like the blueberry iced tea, and unique alternatives, such as pumpkin fries or baked sweet potato fries.
For more traditional healthy offerings, the wraps and salads (try the pear and roasted squash) are delicious. Vegetarian and gluten-free options abound, such as quinoa and lentil dishes. (321-254-5001)
Happy Healthy Human
Visit Happy Healthy Human for the best "real food" on the Space Coast. This organic, raw, vegan cafe is also a "community life center" that is all about healing the body, as well as nourishing it with delicious food. Everything here is delicious, high quality, organic and free of pesticides.
Even if you're not on a vegan or gluten-free diet, you will enjoy the food here. Get a shot of energy in the delicious green smoothie with wheatgrass. Munch on some kale chips instead of potato chips. Also enjoy green juice, salads, the acai bowl, nut cheese and "mylk shakes." The onion bread sandwich is the most popular item on the menu.
This restaurant is small and casual, but friendly with great service. It also organizes various healthy events, such as group cleanses and raw food samplings and demonstrations. (321-779-0077)
About Aimee Heckel
Aimee Heckel’s passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University.
When she's not covering Colorado for Fodor’s Travel Guides and writing for SpaTravelGal.com, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees in Africa.
Heckel also blogs for HuffPost Weird News and writes feature stories, a fashion column and fitness column for the Boulder Daily Camera in Colorado.
Read more about Aimee Heckel here.
Connect with Aimee via: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest