I just got back from a short trip to San Francisco, my first visit there since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I’ll be reviewing some of its restaurants over the next several weeks, but I’m thrilled to report that over the course of a four-day stay, I found that local eateries were very accommodating of the gluten-free diet. The San Francisco dining scene is diverse, but one common trait is a commitment to organic produce that is, for the most part, locally sourced. It makes it much easier to discuss what’s in an entrée when each ingredient is a point of pride.
My arrival in San Francisco didn’t have an auspicious start: my flight from New York was 90 minutes late, which meant that my husband and I were looking for dinner after 9pm on a Friday night. We ended up in Belden Place, a pedestrian alley in the downtown financial district. From the street it looked like the quintessential tourist trap, with restaurants sitting cheek by jowl and canopy-covered al fresco tables. Belden Place’s website claims that the alley is frequently compared to New Orleans’ French Quarter and that the atmosphere is like “the most intimate restaurants in Europe.” I can promise you that it’s like neither, but it has a low-key charm of its own.
We chose Café Tiramisu after talking to a couple of its serving staff, one of whom was particularly well-informed about celiac disease. I had a simple green salad with a honey-infused vinaigrette, goat cheese, and walnuts to start, and peppery seared tuna atop vegetable risotto as my main dish. The meal was good, but even better was our conversation with the couple at the next table. They were San Francisco residents, one of whom has celiac disease, and they were kind enough to share the names of some of their favorite celiac-friendly local haunts, including Boulevard, The Fly Trap, and The Butler and the Chef. I didn’t end up at any of those restaurants (Boulevard is a particularly tough reservation to get on short notice), but it was a wonderful start to my stay to be able to pick up some celiac-friendly San Francisco spots from a local.
Café Tiramisu [address] 28 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104 [tel] 415-421-7044 [web] www.cafetiramisu.com
Boulevard [address] 1 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94105 [tel] 415-543-6084 [web] www.boulevardrestaurant.com
The Fly Trap Restaurant, Bar & Piano Lounge [address] 606 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 [tel] 415-243-0580 [email] firstname.lastname@example.org [web] www.flytraprestaurant.com
The Butler & the Chef Bistro [address] 155A South Park Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 [tel] 415-896-2075 [web] www.thebutlerandthechefbistro.com