Gluten Free Orange County

Extremely tasty gluten free lasagna!

On our gluten free Southern California road trip this Spring we spent a couple of days in Orange County. We had fun times  exploring the area with our friends who live in Newport Beach. I thought it would be easier to find celiac friendly places to eat down here than it was but I did find some. Newport Beach itself has True Food Kitchen but as we had eaten here the night before in Santa Monica we wanted to try something new.

Before we left on our road trip I had done a bit of research, as I always do, to see what I could find in terms of celiac friendly restaurants in the towns and cities we planned to visit. Ciciero’s, an Italian restaurant in the Orange County area was one of the places I found which excited me the most. They have a gluten free menu with all kinds of pizza and pasta options and it was less than 30 minutes from where our friends stay in Newport Beach so I had to try it.

I was a big fan of Ciciero’s Pizzeria in Lake Forest. It’s always difficult to tell what kind of a place somewhere is until you turn up so we were all laughing hysterically after we called to reserve a table for four and then turned up to find what is basically a take out place with a few tables if you want to eat in. Not really a reservations kind of a place 🙂 The owner, who also took our order and served us, was so friendly and as we were the only people there when we arrived I got the chance to have a good conversation with him about his restaurant and gluten free options. He is gluten free himself which is why they offer so many gluten free options. He understands the threat of cross contamination and explained to me that all of their gluten free pastas are cooked in separate water with separate utensils. Only the gluten free pizza is cooked in the same area as normal pizza but steps are taken to minimize the risk of cross contamination. They are currently in the process of taking over the area next door to expand and include more of an eating in area. They also plan to expand their menu to include even more gluten free options such as kebabs.

Cicero's, Lake Forest

Ordering gluten free food

The gluten free lasagna with home made gluten free garlic bread was seriously fantastic. All gluten free dishes here cost the same as regular ones, the way it should always be but rarely is. This place was awesome. I would definitely go back for another big plate of tasty lasagna if I find myself in this part of California again.

Other possible gluten free options in Orange County that I found include Z Tejas in Costa Mesa which has a gluten free menu featuring a few salads and entrees and dishes from the grill. Z Pizza has various locations across the country including many in California and a bunch in Newport Beach. They do a gluten free pizza base and many of their cheeses, sauces, meats and dressings are also gluten free. I haven’t yet eaten at a Z Pizza and would highly recommend double checking their procedures in place for limiting cross contamination.

Avanti Cafe (on 259 East 17th St) in Costa Mesa does gluten free options clearly marked on the menu. Some of their starters including tacos and soup of the day are gluten free and for the main course their roasted polenta, asian noodles with peanut sauce and stacked portobello mushroom are all gluten free. There is also the option to have a gluten free pizza served on garbanzo flat bread.

Native Foods Cafe has a location in Newport Beach (1091 Newport Center Drive) and a wheat and gluten free menu which explains how to order certain options wheat or gluten free. Many of their soups and salads are gluten free as long as you order then without bread or croutons as are a couple of their Earth Bowls. What’s a little scary is that the gluten free menu also includes a section with ‘Menu items that contain a small amount of wheat and/or gluten’ At least they are being open and honest but for some reason this type of thing unsettles me a little.

What are your experiences of living or travelling gluten free in Orange County? Share in the comments below..


              Travel Adventures United States West Coast Comments are closed Trackback URL


  • I found your site while planning a road trip to Santa Barbara, and promised myself I would come back here to comment after my holiday!

    My husband has Celiac, and we live in Orange County. We don’t eat out much because I love to cook and my husband is Asian and does not have a taste for Italian or American foods, so my list is pretty limited.

    Zpizza is the best for pizza. They take steps to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen, using dedicated cooking equipment and cutting tools and counters. We have never had an issue eating there, and I have been a huge fan of Zpizza since it was a single location near the beach :). They also have vegan options! As with most GF pizza locations, the franchised stores only have a small option, but the corporate owned locations have the option to order large GF pizzas.

    Boneheads in Lake Forest is a seafood restaurant that serves Peri Peri sauce (South African hot sauce, yummy), and they have a GF menu and also take steps to prevent cross-contamination in the kitchen. Vegetarian options are limited, but the mushroom tacos are crave-worthy. Just be aware when ordering, the cashiers are not always knowledgeable about GF foods and handling practices and may recommend flour tortillas or french fries if you are not diligent.

    Corporate chains here that are safe include Pei Wei, BJ’s, and PF Chang’s.

    Dosa Place in Tustin has great South Indian food, and because the primary food they serve is dosas and uttaphams (savory rice crepes and pancakes), there is little wheat used in the kitchen and we have never had issues with contamination. Clay Oven in Irvine has GF flatbread so you can enjoy your dinner with bread just like your dining mates who are eating naan! They also are aware of how to keep a GF kitchen.

    I hope this helps others, you are right to observe that here in Orange County it is difficult to find gluten free options, especially since other cities seem to have a thriving GF food culture….

  • Thanks so much for sharing, Priya! 🙂 These are some great suggestions which will definitely help other gluten free travellers headed to Orange County. Dosa Place sounds great – we have a similar restaurant here in SF which is fantastic. Great food and almost all naturally gluten free.

  • Hey! In case you are ever back to Orange County, the chain Pizza Port has gluten free options, and the kitchen staff at all their locations knows about cross contamination issues and is accordingly clean and careful. I think the gluten free crust there beats out ZPizza’s any day, and I’ve never had a bad experience there.

  • I have an all gluten free/dairy free market in Orange, CA called the Bite Market. We have 3 different bakers that deliver weekly to our store and I work with local restaurants to promote safe, gluten free options. Ruta’s on N. Glassell and Original Pancake House on E. Chapman both have a variety of gf options and are safe places to eat!