Tuesday, March 6, 2012

La Jolla restaurants, a land of few glutens...

It's tough to be a gluten in Southern California, they are not very popular down there. Like many of us, I lean towards a diet which includes fewer gluten's these days. In the PNW, that requires a certain amount of navigation when dining out. In contrast, during our days in San Diego, gluten's were nearly extinct. The first thing I noticed throughout our trip was the absence breads. Most restaurants we visited published on the menu stating that they bring bread to the table by request only...a practical measure, a hostess explained to me, after too many breadbaskets came back untouched. 

Even In-n-Out Burgers offer this "protein burger" option, all the beef and toppings, sandwiched between leaves of crunchy lettuce {makes it easier to justify a few french fries}!

There are many restaurant options within walking distance of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and their neighboring property, La Jolla Shores Hotel. One or of our favorite meals we enjoyed on the first night, sitting in the enclosed patio at Piattiwe all quickly adjusted to the beachy lifestyle this area offers.  It is both open and cozy with many unique and homey elements. The Italian cuisine was tasty and fresh, and the whole family wanted to go back, but instead we decided to venture out and try out a few other options.

There is no shortage of Italian fare on Avenida de la Playa. In addition to Piatti's, there is Osteria Romantica, which seems to be a local favorite. It was crowded and lively each night. Though the service left room for improvement, we did appreciate the homey ~  family~run vibe of the place. I think the highlight was the garlicky marinara sauce they served with bread {yes, they did serve bread!}. I asked for extra marinara to spoon over my grilled artichokes and fish for added flavor.

Just down the street, Barbarella's is decorated with a funky, elegant flare. On the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, comfy couches with bright pillows beckon passers-by. They offer a Mediterranean menu including pizzas from a wood~burning stove.

A quick drive to La Jolla village revealed many other interesting meal options. The first, Puesto, is an exciting new concept, inspired by Mexican street food. Each dish is custom made with your choice of  fresh and healthy ingredients. 

 The ordering process was a little overwhelming due to all of the options, but there were plenty of Puestoters on hand to help guide me through the process. 

It was clear that many of the customers were seasoned converts who had mastered the process and easily indicated their preferences. Basically, they offer a wide variety of fresh ingredients which can be used to build a plate of tacos,

a Guisado bowl {beans and rice, hot meats and vegetables in a bowl} or a salad.

Once you map out your meal, they were more than happy to further customize my meal with an array of toppings.

Everything was fresh and delicious and there were so many people trying to please my every tastebud it made my head spin! For the food quality and level of service, I was surprised that my large salad lunch with sides of shrimp, chicken and queso cost less than $7.00! 

You've got to love their food science. 

Please note that only the beer was marked with the NGF {not gluten free} code on the menu.

The decor is stark and clean, with a accents of bright colors and these wonderful, weathered wood seats.

I was first drawn to the The Cottage in La Jolla when I saw the hoards of people waiting out on the sidewalk on one of our first days in the area. In addition to obviously being popular, the place had charming street appeal. We went into town for Sunday brunch and had to try it. After adding our name to the list {they don't take reservations} we cruised town during the 45 minute wait time. Others who waited outside the restaurant were kept happy with the restaurants sidewalks services: coffee cake, coffee, chairs and fleece blankets were available for waiting customers to help themselves {how considerate!}.

When we were finally seated beneath this smart parasol set-up {the height and angle of each of the different shades of umbrellas is adjustable}, we had one of our favorite meals of the trip. The outdoor seating area has a great bustling, yet intimate, ambiance. The portions were substantial and the prices were quite reasonable.

I am still fantasizing about these fresh, ripe avocado halves filled with a tasty tuna salad on a bed of quinoa salad {I actually took half home to have for lunch the next day!}, 

Lunches like this make gluten~free living a breeze.


Splendid Sass said...

I ma now starving, Emily!
I love anything wrapped in lettuce, an the tacos look amazing! I wish that we had a place like this here.
Thank you for sharing.

Leslie said...

Looks like a wonderful trip! That burger looks scrumptious. Growing up in southern CA, I got a taste for great Mexican food. We've yet to match it here in WA.. Now I'm craving tacos! It's been years since I've been to La Jolla. Lots of fun to be had there :)


serena at FarmHouseUrban said...

Great photos - all looks delicious! I do love bread, thank goodness we still have it here in NorCal!

Lindsay @ Delighted Momma said...

I love La Jolla! I live in Temecula which is not that far. Your protein style hamburger looks really yummy!

I Dream Of said...

Yummy! Looks like you had a delicious trip. I'm going to be craving that avocado salad all day!

Hope you get to enjoy the sun and warm temperatures today!

pretty pink tulips said...

I've always heard what a little gem La Jolla is. Now, I want to go there more than ever.

Funny you mention the gluten thing. Definitely making the rounds here. Even my contractor doesn't eat bread anymore...so I decided to give it up for Lent. So far, so good. I feel like I was eating the bread provided at restaurants b/c it was there. Not because it was delicious. While I haven't gone gluten free....it's a start.

And that bunless burger looks mighty tasty!
So happy you and your family had fun!

xoxo Elizabeth

red ticking said...

yummie... oh we need to talk... i am on week 4 and dont know when i will eat gluten again... i am loving how i am feeling... love the lettuce burger... need to give that a try... and i am so into avocados... and tuna...
would love to see you... xx