Tasty Eats Without the Wheat: Gluten Free Restaurants in Santa Barbara

Experts estimate that 1 in every 100 people have celiac disease - a digestive disorder related to the consumption of gluten - and a much higher percentage of the population has gluten sensitivity. 

In a related but unofficial study, our travel experts estimate that a full 100% of those with gluten sensitive stomaches enjoy taking a trip from time to time. But where to eat? 10Best will show you the way!

Whether you're allergic to wheat or just enjoy the benefits of gluten-limited diet (we hear some people report feeling less fatigued after making the switch), you should add Santa Barbara to your list of a delicious dream destinations. This small city by the beach has multiple restaurants with gluten-free options to delight your taste buds throughout the day. Enjoy gourmet breakfasts, lunches and dinners that meet your dietary needs with ease. 

For breakfast, we recommend that you head to Backyard Bowls for a refreshing acai bowl or hot quinoa bowl topped with fresh, local berries. At lunch time, check out The Natural Cafe in the heart of downtown and do a little sightseeing. For dinner, enjoy a steaming hot pie from Persona Wood Fired Pizzeria. Ready for dessert? Lilac Patisserie has cakes, cookies and more to satisfy every sweet tooth. 


With a menu that's naturally gluten-light, Brasil Arts Cafe serves a variety of meats and fish paired with yucca roots, chimichurri and more. Their menu has a strong focus on serving high-quality local meats and produce. In addition to delectable lunch and dinner entrees, they also serve refreshing acai bowls - bowls featuring the antioxidant-rich Brazilian fruit topped with a variety of other treats. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Don't miss the pao de queijo, a must-have gluten-free cheese bread. Brasil Arts Cafe also offers capoeira classes and hosts local art shows. Many Brazilian expats hang out here - a great place to hear (and speak?) a little musical Portuguese.

The Natural Cafe
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives

With 10 locations in the surrounding areas, The Natural Cafe is a Santa Barbara small business success story. A local favorite for vegetarian and vegan options, this popular lunch and dinner restaurant also serves up delicious chicken and fish entrees. In all of their semi-casual establishments, you place your order at the counter and then wait for your food to be delivered to your table. Popular dishes include their fresh fish tacos, savory meatless burgers and signature caesar salad generously topped with avocado. Plenty of gluten-free menu options available. To drink The Natural Cafe offers regional wine, natural sodas and delicious custom-blended smoothies and shakes.

When you're looking for a healthy bite in downtown Santa Barbara, consider a visit to Silvergreens. Everything on the menu - from the soups to the breads to the salad dressing - is made from scratch in their kitchen daily. There are also gluten-free dishes available for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Try a crisp salad, house-made soup or savory gluten-free quinoa bowl. Also, Silvergreens is the first certified green restaurant in Santa Barbara. On an educational note: check the back of your receipt to see that calorie count and nutritional value of your order. Catering and school lunch programs upon inquiry. Some street parking available. More parking is available in the lot under Paseo Nuevo mall across the street.


A fine local restaurant with one of the best salad bars in town, Savoy Cafe & Deli is a great choice for an easy breakfast, lunch or dinner. Mornings highlight fresh eggs, piping hot coffee, gluten-free pastries and loose-leaf teas. At lunch they serve up made-to-order sandwiches and house-made soups. Savoy Cafe & Deli was featured on an episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins & Dives. Everything there is very fresh, and the staff is very friendly. Street parking out front or park in a nearby city lot. Savoy Cafe & Deli is centrally located in downtown Santa Barbara. Many shops and attractions, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, are within close walking distance.

Do you like cakes? How about pies? We thought so! For the best, freshest, most homemade pies in Santa Barbara, head to Crushcakes Cafe & Simply Pies. They make scrumptious cupcakes and mouthwatering pies using the freshest local ingredients. There are plenty of vegan and gluten-free options as well. Almost any flavor or variety can be made in any quantity by special request. You can call ahead to place an order, pop in to see what they've got or even stop by for breakfast or lunch. Free parking right out front. Located in Goleta, just a short drive from downtown Santa Barbara. Wholesale and event orders available.

What's that? You want a wood-fired pizza, made to order, cooked in just 90 seconds? Coming right up! Oh, you're a vegetarian? A meatetarian? Gluten-free? No problem! Stop by Persona Pizzeria on State Street in Santa Barbara to get a personal pizza prepared just the way you like it - and made in a flash, too. As affordable as it is tasty, this is a great dining option for families, students and solo diners. It's located right in the center of downtown, so it's close to movies, museums, parking and shopping. You won't find a more convenient meal than this.

Their slogan says it all: better life through better food. Don't let your meals slow you down - you can grab complete nutrition on the go at Backyard Bowls. Serving acai bowls, whole grain bowls and nutritious smoothies, Backyard Bowls offers you a healthy alternative for breakfast or lunch. Most ingredients are organic and gluten-free and none contain any chemicals or high fructose corn syrup. Better still, Backyard Bowls engages in sustainable practices that are good for the planet, too. Food scraps are composted and to-go containers are biodegradable. Visit Backyard Bowls anytime you want to eat real food and feel really good about it.

Our Daily Bread has been a Santa Barbara favorite since it first opened its doors in 1981. Beloved for their fresh-baked breads and crazy good pastries, Our Daily Bread is a great stop whether you're in the mood for a whole meal or just a little nibble. You can take warm loafs to go, or stay and enjoy breakfast or lunch on their sunny patio. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday mornings and all day on the weekends. Pair your meal with a piping hot espresso or chai latte made from scratch. Lunch sandwiches are served with a side salad and on your choice of bread. They also have gluten-free breads and pastries, all of which are also vegan.

Looking for a place to grab a gluten-free beer and a brat in Santa Barbara? Look no further than the Hoffman Brat Haus located right downtown in the Paseo Nuevo mall. They serve up over 20 kinds of sausages - ranging from classic bratwursts to spicy rattlesnake concoctions - and just as many beers, including gluten-free and cider options! The Hoffman Brat Haus also has delicious Belgian waffles and thick fries with a variety of dipping sauces. There is both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as a second-story bar. Open seven days a week. Park in the mall lot.

Lilac Patisserie is a dedicated gluten-free bakery and cafe right in the center of downtown Santa Barbara. Located near some of the best shopping on State Street, this charming stop is the perfect place to grab a latte and a cookie - or a slice of cake - for people who are gluten intolerant or enjoy eating gluten free! In addition to desserts and coffees, Lilac Patisserie creates gorgeous fluffy cakes that are just right for any occasion. They can even make custom cakes for special occasions. Breakfast and lunch are also served. Think tasty sandwiches and savory quiches. There is plenty of parking in nearby city lots.


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva