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For San Francisco's Sensitive Sweet Tooth: Get Your Gluten-Free Goodies Here



The Bay Area has not only embraced but started many food movements. AliceWaters' famous restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, practically spawned the entire organic food movement in this country. And the idea to eat locally sourced food has been practiced in the Bay Area for decades. So it was only a matter of time before gluten-free menus would cover this progressive place.

Unlike gluten-free dinner or lunch menus, gluten-free desserts and baked goods are a specific challenge since most flours and baking recipes involve gluten. If you're eating a muffin, a slice of toast, a piece of cake or just a plain old bagel, you're almost certainly eating gluten. Even oats can contain gluten because most oats are mass produced and can be contaminated with wheat products that contain gluten.

Determining what has gluten is only the first step. Getting the gluten out can be tricky, since removing gluten can also involve removing some of the beneficial vitamins and minerals connected to gluten. The bakeries below are conscious of replacing the benefits, though. For example, instead of using wheat, some bakeries will use nutritious brown or white rice flour. And instead of using a standard but necessary starch in baking, bakeries may use potato starch or tapioca starch as a substitute.

Whatever these bakeries decided to take out, rest assured there's one thing they decided to leave in: great taste. 


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Fisherman's Wharf
Bistro Boudin


Bistro Boudin is part of the larger Boudin flagship store in Fisherman's Wharf, which is a must-stop in an area loaded with must-stops. Not only can you get a behind-the-scenes look at how this legendary bakery makes its famous sour doughs, you can also pick up some great souvenirs for back home at their tasteful gift shop. Follow up your shopping with a nice treat for yourself at the bistro, like some Sourdough Tortilla Tacos: Grilled Rock Cod, Dungeness Crab or Spicy Grilled Shrimp served with that tangy sourdough that has made Boudin loved locally and internationally. A trip to San Francisco without a taste of Boudin's sourdough is simply incomplete.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Bistro Boudin and its onsite bakery offers some gluten-free options for patrons.

Tom's expert tip: For a real sourdough treat, call ahead and check the schedule for the professionally trained docents (or dough-cents) tour of the Bakery Museum, which covers the impressive 170 year history of Boudin and San Francisco.

Read more about Bistro Boudin →




The hipster heartbeat of the Mission is always on the move (that's what makes it so cool, of course), but you can always trace its pulse back to Mission Beach Cafe. If you really want to taste the hipster life, then head to brunch at the Mission Beach Cafe. Sip on a latte after your weekend brunch of lavender-infused french toast, and then sigh knowingly but painfully as if you have writer's block. Look wistfully as the sun breaks through the fog, wrap your hand-knit scarf around your neck, and then don your sunglasses for another stylish day. Mission Beach Cafe will get you in the proper "mightier than thou" spirit before you can finish their decadent citrus cured salmon.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Mission Beach Cafe often makes accommodations for its gluten-free patrons.

Tom's expert tip: Check out their extensive selection of pies, from apple/cranberry to huckleberry.

Read more about Mission Beach Cafe →


Acme Bread Company


Walnut levain, rustic sweet dough, Challah, rosemary-and-olive oil fougasse, rock salt focaccia, olive, currant pumpernickel, citrus almond brioche: with options like these, it's not hard to see why Acme Bread Company is one of the Bay Area's most popular bakeries. Located in the Ferry Building Marketplace, this beloved bread shop offers fresh, creative creations straight from the hearth oven at some of the best prices around. Plus, all breads are made with organic flour. And the original location in Berkeley has gone a step farther, installing photovoltaic panels to generate much of its energy. If you love good bread and care about the environment, there's no better place on earth for you than Acme.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Acme has seasonal menus, so call ahead to check for any gluten-free varieties.

Tom's expert tip: To get an authentic taste of this local legend, stick with the breads that made them famous in the first place: Pain au Levain, Sweet Baguettes, Upstairs Bread, and Challah.

Read more about Acme Bread Company →


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Mariposa Bakery


If you're looking for gluten-free, your search might start and stop at Mariposa. Mariposa's first few years were spent in a shared kitchen in West Berkeley, California. Their popularity grew, so they needed bigger ovens, which spurred a move in 2006. Instead of a standard, cookie-cutter design for their new bakery, Mariposa designed a gluten-free kitchen in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, California. This certified green bakery also housed Mariposa's first retail bakeshop. In 2009, Mariposa expanded to a second location, this time a kiosk in San Francisco's Ferry Building. Mariposa's presence in the Ferry Building enabled them to bring daily bread and hand-crafted treats to San Francisco's gluten-free community.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: One of the best gluten-free options in the city.

Tom's expert tip: If you think vegan is dry and boring, Mariposa's moist and delectable banana chocolate chip muffins will change your mind.

Read more about Mariposa Bakery →


Hayes Valley  Bakeworks


If you want to ease your social conscience as you gobble down a blueberry muffin, swing by Hayes Valley Bakeworks. Besides offering delectable morning pastries, cookies, porridge bowls and signature sweets, this bakery trains and employs people with disabilities who are homeless or at risk. And just one visit will convince you that the eager and helpful staff are very grateful for the opportunity. The unique and imaginative interior is designed by award-winning San Francisco architect Jim Maxwell, using eco-friendly design and cheery colors. So if you like helping both people and the earth as you eat your sweets, head to Hayes Valley Bakeworks.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Besides doing their best to provide gluten-free options, Hayes Valley is dedicated to helping the whole Bay Area community.

Tom's expert tip: Whatever treat you choose, pair it with a cup of their Four Barrel coffee.

Read more about Hayes Valley Bakeworks →




While plenty of places serve up Blue Bottle's famous roast, the Mint Plaza location, housed in the elegant 1912 Provident Loan Building, is the original headquarters. Known for its individually brewed drip coffee, this San Francisco favorite treats patrons to house classics, as well as specialty drinks like macchiatos and lattes, all freshly prepared on the spot. The breakfast menu has everything from steel-cut oats to frittatas, while lunch features assorted sandwiches and salads. Blue Bottle also uses vat-pasteurized, 100 percent Jersey milk from St. Benoît in all milk drinks.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Blue Bottle's Mint Plaza location offers gluten-free options when available.

Tom's expert tip: If you want to bring some of their coffee home, ask for their wholesale offer deals.

Read more about Blue Bottle Coffee Café →


House of Bagels


The name says it all. If you're looking for plain, run-of-the-mill, flat and boring sandwich bread, you've come to the wrong place. These bagels are everything a bagel should be: round and boiled, chewy and yummy. And the variety is astounding, with over 25 flavors of their three standard bagels, all authentic New York style bagels because they are boiled and then baked on stone. For those who don't like bagels(!), there's a fantastic variety of artisan breads, cookies (like black and white cookies, rugelach and Russian tea cakes), as well as a fine assortment of pastries. And the deli is excellent if you need something more substantial than cream cheese with your bagel.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: House of Bagels is an institution in the Richmond/Sunset area of San Francisco and has been offering quality baked goods for over fifty years.

Tom's expert tip: If you don't mind your bagels a little on the chewy side, search for the day-old section, which is tucked away in the back of the store.

Read more about House of Bagels →


3
Noe Valley
Firefly


Marked only by the image of a firefly, this neighborhood restaurant features a fabric-draped ceiling and impeccable seasonal cuisine. Local, organic ingredients play a major role in the menu, especially in favorites like shrimp and scallop potstickers and scrumptious fried chicken. Richly creative dishes also include roasted duck breast with chestnut bread pudding, slow braised beef short ribs, and cornmeal-crusted rock cod with bacon-braised cabbage. A three-course, prix fixe option is available for $35 Sunday through Thursday and is a great deal. Wonderfully unpretentious and casual, Firefly lets the natural seasons dictate their menu. For example, a summer menu highlight is "Chopped Salad of Yummy Summer Stuff with Fun and Exciting Vinaigrette." Who said eating healthy can't be fun?

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Flour and Co is extremely health conscious and will provide gluten-free options whenever possible.

Tom's expert tip: Leave room for the Lemon Verbena Soda Float with Ollalieberry Sorbet and Lemon Graham Cheesecake Cookies. To...die...for.

Read more about Firefly →


Tartine Bakery


Devoted to premium, organic ingredients, this bakery willingly acknowledges that its menu selections depend on everything from seasonal goods to chef-driven whims. Even with such a (mild) disclaimer, it's pretty well certain you'll go away with a satisfied, happy tummy. The European-styled bakery has folks lining up for delicate tarts, fruit-studded brioche, artisan loaves, airy croissants, and addictive eclairs - and that's just to start. Later in the day, sandwiches are fashioned from great, homemade bread and dressed up with top-quality cheeses and herbs. Drinks include French wines, coffees, and a signature hot chocolate. If you can check their menu online and call ahead to order, it's advised.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: Tartine is incredibly popular, so calling ahead for gluten-free options is the best bet.

Tom's expert tip: Their eclairs, filled with vanilla custard and dipped in Valrhona glaze, are memorable.

Read more about Tartine Bakery →


Arizmendi Bakery


Locals love this cooperative bakery for its delicious pastries, artisan bread and gourmet pizza. Just two blocks from Golden Gate Park, Arizmendi offers its specialties on a weekly schedule, and depending on the day, patrons enjoy assorted focaccia flavors, baguettes and brioche knots. Regulars especially love the fruit scones and the wolverine loaf, a creative concoction nicknamed the "power bar-type bread." Gourmet pizzas of the day are available after 11:30 am. If you need to pack a healthy-sized loaf for that long trek through the park, or you need that slice of pizza as a reward for you long hike completed, head to Arizmendi.

Recommended for Gluten-Free Baked Goods because: In a town where bakeries can open and close overnight, Arizmendi is established and trusted.

Tom's expert tip: The Ninth and Irving location is right by Golden Gate Park - a great place to walk off that muffin.

Read more about Arizmendi Bakery →


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Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

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