San Francisco Allergy Friendly Food Guide

RESTAURANTS

Mission District

BiRite 

When we found our flat in SF I didn’t know that it was round the corner from BiRite Market and Ice Creamery, amazing places to be near. BiRite is a food store that sells delicious fresh produce, prepared foods and artisan items. I love just walking around their store and looking (not buying as its quite expensive) at all the delicious items. What I really love is their vegan ice cream. The scrummy chocolate coconut milk ice cream is utterly divine and you will be in heaven when you eat it. But sadly they do not serve this flavor year round in the summer they have strawberry instead which is not as nice so hopefully you visit outside of summer months and get to try the chocolate. Cold days, warm days, lunch times, afternoons, evening and late at night, this place has a queue. It is insanely popular, but queuing is almost part of the fun of it all. There is a real buzz and energy in the queue with everyone chatting while they wait outside. We go every Monday night for ice cream; wrap up warm and go queue. Oh, and I forgot to say that they have gluten-free cones, yes gluten free, so you can lick the ice cream rather than when you have a cup and have to use a spoon.

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18 reasons 

The mission is my favorite area in SF, it feels like a community. 18 reasons, a community market set up by the Birite owners is a living example of this community. 18 reasons has community meals and cooking classes you can go to, they are all pay for classes but the money goes into their charity arm Cooking Matters which runs courses with children and families on healthy eating. I volunteered with Cooking Matters assisting in the delivery of the lesson content. It a great programme helping people make healthy choices and learn to cook.

Bebebar 

One of the things to do when you are in Mission district is to hang out in Dolores park. You do not need to bring anything to read as this park is full of great people watching in the afternoons and weekends. Circus acts, dancing groups, interesting clothes, parties, music and yoga groups all using the park it is a very unique and special place. While you are here you can grab a refreshing meal at Bebebar they serve yummy acai bowls, smoothies and some snacks.

On Valencia Street: One of the best restaurant streets in SF (Restaurants listed in order of position on Valencia street – stretching from 14th-23rd)

Shizen sushi 

This is an entirely vegan sushi restaurant, and even my husband who loves meat thinks this place is amazing. It is unfortunately not so great if you cant have soya like me. Only a couple of things are soya free but for dairy and gluten free there are endless deliciously choices. They don’t take reservations and it is a popular spot so be prepared to wait but it really is worth it. Wait to sit in the main area rather than at the bar as the design of the little restaurant really is beautiful, it is like a wooden green house celling, very stunning.
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Mau 

The first meal I craved in SF was Vietnamese; I had become used to having Vietnamese food weekly in HK and so after three weeks of none I was mouth-wateringly excited to try Mau. I had the Cha Ca La Vong (dairy free and gluten free) and it was scrummy, the atmosphere is great, lively and chilled. This is a regular spot for us.
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Dandelion

Dandelion is a San Francisco chocolate factory in the Mission District, making the best vegan chocolate bar I have tasted. It is soya and dairy free, yet not dry or crumbly and it has a smooth fruity delicious taste. We treat ourselves to a weekly date night at Dandelion having their hot chocolates which can be made dairy free with Almond milk.

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Dosa 

If you have not had a Dosa before you are missing out. These Southern Indian (gluten free) lentil pancakes are completely divine, and Dosa on Valencia serves up some truly delicious ones with such delicious fillings. They have a specific allergy menu, which clearly highlights allergies and makes ordering easy. I get the fennel or the sweet potato dosa – both are awesome.

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Lolo

A vibrant Mexican restaurant, very kitsch and fun design. Their menu highlights gluten free and vegetarian. I may have eaten my way through a couple of portions of the Shishito peppers I just love these.

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Berretta

Berretta is one of the few restaurants in SF that feels like a special occasion place, very elegant décor, buzzy and friendly feel. They do not have an allergy menu but they have a great range of interesting salads and anti pasta, which are mainly gluten free and vegan or can be easily adapted.

Other:
Mission Chinese – Has vegan options (no good if a soya allergen though)
Udupi Place – Indian vegan restaurant

On Mission Street (listed in order of position on Mission street – stretching from 18th- 22nd)

Wholesome bakery 

A plant based, entirely vegan, soya free, gluten free and low glycemic bakery, really catering to most allergens, They serve a range of cakes, cookies, brownies and bars. My favorite are the lemon and peanut butter bars they are really scrummy.

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Urban Fish 

A vegan pescetarian restaurant with lots of gluten free options. I love the menu structure, mains are just the main and you choose sides etc so you can make your meal up as you want and as big as you want. It always seems empty but I don’t know why we had a lovely meal great fresh flavors.

Gracias Madre 

An organic and plant based Mexican restaurant. This is nice fun restaurant but I wasn’t that impressed with the food. It was quite simple and plain it lacked the extra factor.

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Lolinda and El Techo 

These are perhaps our two favourite places. El Techo is the roof top restaurant go here for brunch on the weekend, such a fun place and great salads and options for the meat eater.
Then downstairs at Lolinda for dinner. It is a very special place. Dimly lit, warm but modern feeling, totally buzzing and really excellent food. Delicious allergen friendly salads, and vegetable starters and if you eat meat and fish then you’ll be very happy.

Foreign Cinema 

If you are looking for a date night with a difference then sitting outside at Foreign Cinema is the place to go. They have a big screen playing a foreign movie every evening, it is not about watching it but the atmosphere of having it on is lovely and very romantic outside under the patio heaters. The food is also really excellent and they are very accommodating with adapting the menu for intolerances etc.

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Middle Mission

Stable Cafe

This is my favourite café in SF, we go here most weekends and spend a few hours siting in the outside area with the Sunday papers and we soak up the news, sun, community vibe and pretty setting. There are lots of plum trees and greenery in the outside area it really is a special place to be. They also serve a vegan and gluten free cookie/bar and have a Mate tea which is rather yummy.

Green heart food 

I love this part of the mission, its quite arty and old converted warehouses. This café is only open on the weekday which is a shame as I hardly ever get to go and they make really yummy lunches, offering both vegan and gluten free options.

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Plow 

This is a great place for weekday breakfast (its good on weekend but gets very busy). They have one vegan and gluten-free option which is their chia seed bowl which is scrummy. It has a real local community feel to this cafe we love it and Will enjoys a big breakfast their plow breakfast with all the trimmings, so its a good place for everyone to eat at.

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Bernal Heights

Als Place 

This restaurant got a huge amount of press last year when Bon Appetite said it was best restaurant in the US and now I understand why. It is truly a special restaurant. The menu is so interesting, dishes created that you would not think of making and I love that from a restaurant I want to be surprised and new taste buds ignited. The chickpea dish was insanely good, just a side but packed with flavour, it really was sublime and then the stone fruit cod curry, yup curry with blueberries and peaches and it worked, it was the best flavour combination. We also had the avocado salad and yellow eye bean soup both excellent. It is without a doubt the best restaurant that we have been to in SF, the staff are also lovely and the space it really relaxing. You will not be disappointed, go hungry so you can try lots. They were also very accommodating for allergens, the waitress was really knowable about the menu and talked me through dish by dish what I could have, which was pretty much everything.

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Café St Jorge 

Looking for a nice local community place to grab breakfast, then this is your spot. Very Bernal height vibe (chilled, hipster and family orientated), they have a few good vegan gluten free options for breakfast. I had the chia bowl while we sat reading the paper a lovely way to start the day. I almost forgot they have hemp milk as a non dairy milk option which is my favourite non dairy milk.

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Downtown

Plant Cafe

An organic, sustainable restaurant with an allergy friendly menu. They have various locations around SF. They even have a location at SFO airport terminal 2. My favourite is the one at pier 3, sitting outside over looking the bay eating scrummy healthy food, perfection. I prefer their lunch and dinner menu the breakfast items are a lacking any special touches and the acai bowl was quite watery with large ice chunks in it still, but the salads for lunch are really scrummy.

Lemonade

I had been to the lemonade in LA and I liked it but wasn’t that impressed but the one that has just opened in SF is awesome. We have been waiting for a place like this in the city. I love salad bar style eating, just picking a little bit of whatever you want. All the options are labeled vegan, gluten free so it makes ordering easy.

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Samovar 

There used to be one just round the corner from our flat but it closed and now just the one in town which is a shame. They have lots of good gluten free and vegan options. I order the Market bowl which is a secret dish not on the menu, it used to be on their menu but they changed their menu and I was sad so I asked if they could still do it and they said yes and it seems a common request from locals who have known the place. The market bowl is brown rice, squash, spinach, seaweed, nori, and salmon and its super delicious, definitely my favorite nourishing meal out.

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Humphrey and Slocombe 

In the Ferry Building is Humphrey and Slocombe, one of my favourite places to go on a Thursday lunch. It is a delicious ice creamery with two sorbets on rotation. The best flavour by far is the Coconut sorbet, which is not like sorbet at all, but creamy and so ‘lickalicous’. The next best flavour is P.O.G sorbet, which stands for Passion fruit, Orange and Guava, and the taste of these three is sublime. They also have a location in the mission on 24th Street.

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Marisposa

This is another interesting place in the Ferry Building, and I do love the Ferry building. I would happily spend every lunchtime here mooching in all the stores. Marisposa is a gluten-free bakery, but they also have some vegan and soya free items.

Hayes Valley

Little gem

I love their mission statement/mantra ‘ At little gen there will always be something for everyone, because everyone is someone and we look forward to serving that someone who is you’. How inclusive and awesome is that, I am so used to in san Francisco the menu saying we do not make substitutions, so to go somewhere which fully embraces substitutions is so refreshing. So you will be able to find something here you can eat. So enjoy the lovely modern sustainable space and the delicious allergy friendly food.

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Fillmore

Jane

One of the best places for vegan and gluten free breakfast in the city. I just love love love their 3 vegan, gluten-free choices, the chia parfait, the black rice porridge and the granola are all incredible. They do also serve lunch and a good range of allergy friendly salads but its defo best for breakfast.

OTD

This is a lovely little restaurant on Filmore street. I had the green papaya salad without the tofu and it was the best green papaya salad I have had outside of Thailand. Really scrummy. They had a few other gluten free, dairy-free items that I could have had so the menu for allergens is pretty good. I really liked the feel of this restaurant; even at lunch it was really busy and buzzy, airy and light space.

Sunset and Richmond District
Judahlicous 

One of my favourite ways to start a weekend in SF is going for a walk along ocean beach. It is such a beautiful wild yet pristine beach. After we go for a walk along her my husband gets coffee at Andy town coffee and we get breakfast at Judahlicious. We tend to share the waffles and acai bowl and the combo is just breakfast perfection. This cafe is super cute and has an amazing raw, vegan menu which has lots of GF options.

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Nourish 

This is my favorite little cafe, serving excellent plant based food. You can see my full review of this cafe in my other post.

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Marina

Blue barn

If you are craving a salad then Blue barn serves up some of the best salads. You can create your own salad they are huge and so delicious.

Seed and Salt 

Plant-based, organic, gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free. Serving yummy chia pots and smoothies for breakfasts and great salads and baked goods for lunch. I have sat outside Seed and Salt in the suntrap seats enjoying numerous different items. The chia pot is a perfect breakfast before a walk along the Marina soaking in the beautiful view of the Golden Gate Bridge. The salad mixes and cookies are a fabulous re-fuel for lunch after a hike from Lands End past the Golden Gate Bridge and Palace of Fine Arts.

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Various Locations

Food trucks

Food trucks are a big thing in San Francisco, and with the wonderful weather it’s brilliant to sit and eat outside, and you don’t have tax or service added on to the bill. Off the Grid is an innovative group that brings the food trucks together a few times a week at different locations. You can also track your favourite food trucks and see where they will be next.

Bowl D acai 

If you want acai bowl then head to this food truck. They make the best acai bowls with such yummy granola and toppings. They have their food truck in a permanent location at mint plaza and now they are expanding to a few other locations.

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Patxi Pizza 

This place is my go to place when I am in need for some comfort food. They make vegan and gluten free pizza and its pretty good they used corn free pizza bases and Daiya cheese.

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Project juice 

Great range of smoothies, juices and acai bowls.

Peets 

One of a few places that serves a dairy free (almond milk) match green tea latte and you can get it unsweetened. Its very yummy.

Bay Area

North (across the golden gate bridge) – Sonoma and Napa

Café del Sol 

One of the nicest ways to explore the other side of the golden gate bridge is via a bicycle. There is a great bike path the whole way from ferry building, across the bridge, through Sausalito and into Mill valley, you can even go all the way round to Tibron. This little café although in a parking lot is a great stop for smoothies, juices and dairy free gluten free food. Opposite is Equator coffee which is a another great pitt stop with great seating areas.

Amys drive thru 

It is finally happening, healthy fast food. Amy’s drive thru is an example of how all fast food places could be. The beauty of it is that it still feels like a quick naughty treat, it has been decked out just like a fast food diner but its menu is allergy friendly, healthy and scrummy. You can get gluten-free and vegan; pizza, mac cheese, chilli bowls and amazing salads. It really is a fantastic creation.

The Barlow complex: The Nectary 

This complex is lovely, all converted warehouses, housing great cafes, restaurants and breweries. My favorite here is the Nectary they have yummy raw, organic foods and I am a big fan of their smoothies, a great menu with interesting healthy drink options.

Farmstead 

If you are headed to Napa for the day then book lunch at Farmstead, it is one of the nicest farm to table restaurants, serving all organic local sustainable food. It has a really idyllic setting with their herb garden outside, old tractors parked up and inside a beautiful converted barn. The food is not explicitly allergy friendly but there are a few options you can adapt to make gluten free, dairy free etc.

SF

Urban remedy 

For a healthy snack, lunch, drink on the go Urban remedy have your back. They have a great range of salads, wraps, snacks and drinks. I tend to stop in for one of their delicious bowls in Mill Valley or Larkspur when we are picnicking up in Sonoma. They now have a location downtown in the Ferry Building.

Other:
Coffee shops and Cafes:
* Equator Coffee, various locations
* Acre, Petaluma
* Flying Goat, Santa Rosa and Healdsburg
* Shed, Headlesburg (also does great juices)
* WildFlour (vegan and gluten free options but not both), Freestone
* Dry Creek General Store (Great store and cafe with lovely decking seats)

Great for meat eaters:
Freemont Diner, Sonoma
* Diavola Pizzeria, Geyserville

Our favorite Vineyards:
Larsons Family Winery – book ahead good for groups with Bocce and Corn Hole
Madrone Wineary – Great sofa area for members and bocce courts
Gundlach Bundschu – great for a picnic
Gloria Ferrer – good if your there early for drink on terrace in front row with view over vineyard.
Matanzas Creek – great for special occasions and groups, has corn hole, bocce and beautiful lavender gardens and picnic areas

Oakland

Little Giant ice cream 

Ok Birite watch out because I have found my new favorite ice cream in SF. They started in Oakland but now have a location in downtown SF. They have 3 vegan coconut milk flavors and it is wickedly awesome ice cream. I love the coconut chocolate chip and the passion fruit, they are so scrummy, sadly no gluten free cones but hey can’t win them all. Every time I go I always forget to take a photo as I’m too excited to eat it, this time I remembered but I had already eaten half whops.

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Ba Bites

Great little Middle Eastern cafe that has some scrumptious salads, lots which are vegan and gluten free. Their hummus is also seriously creamy and good.

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Juhu beach club 

This is a very cute restaurant in Oakland. Quite bizarre décor but it works. The menu is scrummy, I had the Bhel Salad and the Tamarind Coconut curry both were vegan and gluten-free. The curry could have had a bit more something something to it but the Bhel Salad was yummy. This was my husband favorite restaurant so far in SF.

Millennium 

This is an entirely vegan restaurant, these sorts of restaurants tend to be very difficult for me to find something to eat as most use soya as the substitute which I can’t eat. They were very accommodating and the chef scribbled all over the menu showing what I could have. We had a lovely meal, packed with flavor but the portions were rather small for the price so I left a little hungry.

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Berkley

Chez Panisse 

This is Alice Walters restaurant and it is quite a famous place. My mum had always wanted to go, she had many of the Alice Walters cook books. So when my she visited we went, we opted for the cafe as it felt more informal than the restaurant. You do have to book in advance it books up very quickly. Alice Walters changed the face of cooking in her time she was one of the first to put emphasis on vegetables and using seasonal sustainable produce. She is right if the produce is good quality, fresh and seasonal it brings every thing you need to a meal. Her menu changes but I am sure you will find something yummy to eat. We had such a nice evening sitting by the window seat in the upstairs of this cute cottage that Chez Panisse is in enjoying very clean tasting simple but delicious food.

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High wire 

This is a great cafe, serving the best chai latte in the bay area in my favourite heath ceramic mugs and they have vegan and gluten free baked goods, love it.

Mission Heirloom 

The first thing that stands out when you walk into Mission Heirloom is the fabulous space, it is decked out really well. The outside seating is heavenly, with a covered area, fairy lights and bright tables. Your attention is quickly drawn to the menu with a fresh organic healthy stance. All their food is free from grains, refined sugars and oil. I love the way the food is presented, with the salads and soups in beautiful jars. They have a great selection of baked goods as well.
I had the carrot soup which was so clean and fresh tasting and it was beautifully presented with edible flowers.

MissionHeirloom

Palo Alto

Bare Bowl 

When in Palo Alto this place is a must. Their Omni green acai bowl really is a nourishing feast. It is the most filling and creamy acai bowl I have had and they use my favorite granola in the city Nana Joes gluten free granola.

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Sacramento

Temple coffee

This is the perfect pitt stop on your way to Lake Tahoe or Yosemite. They have great selection of really tastey vegan gluten free baked goods. I had one of the muffins and they were really excellent.

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FOOD SHOPPING 

Farmer’s Markets 

On our very first morning we went to the Ferry Building for the Cuesa Farmers Market, and we now go every Saturday. The farmers market is possibly my favourite thing about San Francisco and I love going every week to get my fresh produce. Buying from a local market not only supports local farmers, it reduces your carbon footprint and brings you fresher more nutritious produce.

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Vita Cost 

This is the place I rely on for many of my purchases as it is an online site selling everything you would need, and at much cheaper prices. It also has great sales each month so you can stock up, and next day delivery so you rarely need to spend more in the supermarkets.

Whole Foods Market 

Endless choices of delicious healthy foods. There is a joke in San Francisco called ‘Whole Pay Check’, for if you shop there you will spend your month’s salary. Yes some is way more expensive but some things are actually cheaper so you just need to shop around and work out what’s good value to get here. Mainly it is just lovely to walk around a beautiful store with yummy things on the shelves.

Rainbow Grocery 

Another brilliant store selling everything you could want for healthy allergy-friendly cooking. From bee pollen to all types of nuts, grains, seeds, flours and fresh produce but no meat or fish.

Berkley Bowl 

This is a very special store. It is now my absolute favorite place to shop. Fantastic range of products, everything you could need. Such great access to good organic produce at pretty good prices.

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Costco 

We didn’t go to Costco in the first year of living in SF and what a mistake. I had no idea what this place was I just thought it would be bulk bad quality food but I was so wrong. We went for the first time with a friend and I was bowled over, fresh, organic, free-range products all at a fraction of the cost. Yes you do have to buy in large quantities but I just spend and hour after we go cutting things into meal size and bagging and freezing. It is the most economical way to eat good food in SF. They also sell electronics, and one day had a good sale on a vitamix I have been lusting after this for ages, but couldn’t justify the price but on this day we decided it was worth it, it really is an amazing blender.

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