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Gluten Free Palm Springs

by Karen on April 9th, 2011

the chase hotel

My daughter and I just returned from a-reading-by-the-pool-in-the-sunshine-trip to Palm Springs.  For anyone who has ever lived in the Pacific Northwest you will instantly understand the significance of such a trip.  The hardy souls in the Northwest NEED a dose of sunshine like that and we rarely get the luxury.

Oh, we did one other thing…..we ate out a lot!

If I had to do it all over again I would have taken advantage of the gas grill in the pool area for at least a few meals of cooking gluten free myself. (I am also not one to take my camera into restaurants to photograph my meals —so as you read this you might want to follow the restaurant links to see their photos.)

On this trip to the desert we decided to stay near downtown to be close to the action, but it was very quiet there this past week.  Quiet is actually good –no need to make any reservations.  We walked out of our great little hotel…the Chase Hotel…down one short block and we had our pick of some wonderful little restaurants who understood gluten free quite well.

Gluten Free Friendly Restaurants in Palm Springs

We drove into town a little late in the day since we flew in and out of Orange County, we had heard good things about the Palm Greens Cafe so we stopped there first. My daughter had a Stir Fry Bowl and I had a Greek Wrap–a spinach nut burger with greens, veggies, feta cheese and tzatziki dressing in a rice wrapper.  Both meals were very good and we went back another day for gluten free oatmeal and an organic breakfast bowl that had either eggs or tofu with potatoes, sauteed spinach, kale, zucchini, mushroom, onion, carrot, ginger and garlic.  They also have gluten free pancakes and most everything on their menu can be made gluten free.  We could have walked there from our hotel since it wasn’t that far–maybe 8-10 blocks.

The first night out we went to a lively Mexican restaurant Las Casuelas Terraza–it was very busy so a reservation definately helped.  Many nights they hire a live band which makes this place a magnet for everyone.  Their waitstaff was very attentive and knowledgeable though you will want to ask plenty of questions to be sure they meet your GF standards.  My 19-year old daughter was in charge of asking the questions and she was satisfied, but you will want to ask for yourself.

The next morning we had breakfast at Spencer’s, the restaurant at the Historic Tennis Club which was also a nice morning walk from our hotel.  They had a variety of egg dishes that can be made gluten free and the outdoor dining (in a heavily shaded patio) near tennis courts and the pool was pleasant.  We probably spent close to $30 on breakfast which always pains me so later that day we drove to Trader Joe’s to stock up on breakfast items, snacks, and lunch options which allowed us to keep a solid reading schedule going without giving up our poolside chairs or our great view of the surrounding palm trees and the San Jacinto Mountains.

Zin American Wine Bistro was our destination for two dinners because we were so enthralled with their Truffle Pommes Fritas which to my daughter’s delight were gluten free.  They served as both our appetizer and dessert since they are so decadent.  We had a variety of other items on their menu over the two nights, all of it was fantastic.  They also have a decent selection of wines by the glass.

One night we stopped in at Okura Robata Grill but  I can’t in good faith recommend this place because we didn’t try much on the menu.  I did send my drink back to the bar after two sips though because it seemed watered down and they took it off the bill.  Picky, picky, picky but if you are paying $10 for a drink it better have alcohol in it!

We waited patiently for our night at Birba,  open Wednesday-Sunday.

The bar at Birba

We had heard that the gluten free pizza at Birba was good.  The crust is a thin wood-fired delicate crust.  If you go call ahead and find out what time the gluten free crust will be available and ask them to reserve one for you.  One pizza is enough for one person if you also get a salad.  We are used to a traditional tomato pizza sauce and if I had to guess I would say this was a red pepper puree because it just didn’t taste like tomato to me and that affected my overall review of the pizza. Maybe the white pizza is the way to go. My sense is it could be a fun bar scene later in the evening, we were there early because my brother and his wife drove over from Anaheim to join us for dinner and didn’t want to make it a late night.  I would recommend eating a little something before you go then order the Homemade Tuna Conserva and split one gluten free pizza with a friend to see what you think.  They had a nice wine list by the glass too.  If you are still hungry later there are great places downtown that serve ice cream or frozen yogurt! 

Birba seating and fire pits

Gluten Free in Anaheim

On our way back to the John Wayne airport in Santa Ana we stopped in at my brothers house –he wanted to take us to Slaters 50/50 for lunch which he had heard was gluten friendly.  My daughter and I ended up ordering salads but in hindsight I wish now I had ordered a burger.  I never really found out what options one might have there for gluten free but my brother ordered a burger and it looked fantastic.  Certainly a place you might want to call for more information.

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