Luckily for Angelenos, we live in a city with plenty of health-conscious restaurateurs. Whether you have celiac disease or just prefer to go light on the wheat, there’s a wide array of options in all parts of Los Angeles. But while plenty of restaurants have menu items that don’t use wheat, it’s often quite difficult to be certain because gluten exists within various sauces as well. There are few restaurants that are meticulous about their labeling, so we’ve curated a list of those restaurants that do so and have plenty of options for wheatless dining.
Azla serves up a delightful array of vegan and gluten-free Ethiopian food. Their entire menu is wheatless and the selections are quite simple. You get a choice of gluten-free injera (an Ethopian flatbread) or brown rice, and you choose your pairings accordingly. Standouts include the misir (red lentils and spicy berbere) and the yatakilt (curry potatoes, carrots, and cabbage). Salads and gluten-free desserts are also available.
CAFE GRATITUDE LARCHMONT
This San Francisco transplant already has two locations in Los Angeles. Positivity comes in the form of “I Am” affirmations and permeates through the menu and the wait staff. The statements might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but let the food do the talking. Café Gratitude is always vegan and always organic. While it’s not exclusively gluten-free, a good majority of their selections are. On the breakfast front, diners can indulge in pancakes made with buckwheat-flax, banana bread, and muffins – sans the gluten. On the regular menu, the macrobowls, salads, and wraps are the most popular options. The I Am Fortified is a crowd favorite – a tasty quinoa or brown rice bowl with sprouts and vegetables. Macrobowls can be terribly plain, but at Café Gratitude, they’re great with diversifying the textures and flavors so your taste buds won’t get bored.
If you’re looking for a more elevated meal, but want to make sure the stuff you’re getting is 100% gluten-free, Crossroads is really the best choice in town. Chef Tal Ronnen doles out Mediterranean-style dishes and all the dishes that incorporate some sort of bread always has a gluten-free counterpart. The price is hefty, but is well worth it for the fresh and eye-popping plates. The artichoke oysters with crispy oyster mushrooms and kelp caviar are a must. The hot-ticketed Melrose restaurant also hosts Sunday Suppers, when neighboring chefs like Adam Fleischman and Ricardo Zarate are invited to guest cook.
DR. J’S VIBRANT CAFÉ
Located on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles, Dr. J’s Vibrant Café is housed in a casual airy space complete with board games and free WiFi. The concept was inspired by ancient medicine theories from Taiwan and the menu is a mix of American and Asian influences. Dr. J’s – named after holistic practitioner Dr. Juliet Tien – cleans all their vegetables so they’re free of yeasts, pesticides and chemicals. Macrobowls and salads dominate the menu, but there is a sizable sandwich and burger selection as well. All the bread is made from veggie pulp without a trace of wheat.
M CAFÉ – BRENTWOOD
Brentwood is the newest location of the quickly expanding M Café chain, which features accessible, macrobiotic dishes and is the top recommendation for a gluten-free breakfast in Los Angeles. The menu is designed so you won’t feel left out while the rest of Los Angeles is enjoying Sunday morning with plates of benedicts, French toasts, and scrambles. M Café has all of the above, but in gluten-free form. Go for the Salmon Benedict, a beautiful spread of smoked salmon with soy hollandaise and a tofu scramble.
NATIVE FOODS CAFÉ – CULVER CITY
With locations across four states, Native Foods is rather established. They focus on strictly vegan cuisine, but gluten-free items are aplenty and are indicated on the menu. Earth Bowls are the pick here – the sesame kale bowl is a wonderful mixture of kale, tempeh and brown rice with sauerkraut, gamasio and sesame seeds folded in. If you’re iffy on what is going into your food, the staff has a helpful book of ingredients that they’re always more than willing to share.
REAL FOOD DAILY – PASADENA
Real Food Daily as a business has been around since 1993 and serves a completely plant-based menu. The menu is extensive and painstakingly labeled with dietary footnotes, so eaters know exactly what they’re getting. Corn grain bread and millet bread is available, and pizza is completely gluten and nut free. The shakes are completely dairy-free, and they’re both green and scrumptious. There’s really something for everyone at Real Food Daily, and the spacious seating makes it conducive for a great dinner conversation.
SAGE ORGANIC VEGAN BISTRO – CULVER CITY
Sage Organic is a step above all the fast-casual cafes on this list. Think pasta and steak – but instead, a gluten-free eggplant arriabiatta and mushroom as a steak. This well-rounded bistro has two locations: one in Echo Park, the other in Culver City. The Culver City storefront is the one to go for if you’re torn between the two. They have an exclusive, vegan pizza menu with a buckwheat gluten-free crust as an option for $2 more. No cheese from animals is used, pesto is made with hemp seeds, and all the produce is organic and pesticide-free.
TRUE FOOD KITCHEN – SANTA MONICA
The menu at True Food Kitchen was designed for an anti-inflammatory diet. They have one of the most extensive gluten-free options in town, including a turkey lasagna with ricotta, tomato and spinach and an “inside-out” quinoa burger garnished with hummus, tzatziki, tomato, avocado and feta. Top it all off with a flourless chocolate cake, served a la mode and drizzled with caramel.