Gluten-Free in Carlsbad: Tin Leaf Kitchen

tin-leaf-fresh-kitchenOur last day in San Diego/North County we decided to take it easy and play it by ear. For lunch, we wound up at Tin Leaf Kitchen, not far from our hotel. Chaz found them online and showed me their menu. I questioned the Turkey meal, it said it was gluten-free but was it really? I mean what restaurant makes gluten-free gravy so people with Celiac and NCGS can enjoy it too?

Tin Leaf Kitchen does.

I questioned the woman who took our order to ensure the gravy really was gf. She was patient with me and answered everything with confidence.

Pictured above is the All-Natural Roasted Turkey Breast. Or as I was calling it Thanksgiving dinner. This used to be one of the things I loved to order at diners since turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberry sauce (or relish as this is) should be enjoyed more than just one weekend a year. I was stoked (to slip in some of my SoCal past).

They also had a Boylan soda fountain. Not Coca-Cola. Not Pepsi. Boylan. They are sodas made with cane sugar instead of HFCS. I have a difficult time with HFCS as it can send me into an adrenal crash so I save it for the occasional movie-going. I had never heard of them before this and couldn’t decide which one to try because decisions! I ended up with the black cherry and wow. It was so good. Since then we’ve been able to find them at various locations around town – first the long trek to Jungle Jim’s but now closer in our neighborhood Kroger and Fresh Market. I have a stash of the ginger ale for the days I’m nauseated because nausea starts to dissipate before I’m halfway done.

After that delicious meal, we went to a movie with reclining seats. It was our first time in a theater with reclining seats. Once you recline you won’t go back to upright seats again.


We left the theater, greeted by the moonrise on one side…


…and the sunset on the other.


Hasta la vista, SoCal..

Gluten-Free in San Diego: True Food Kitchen

I feel like I won’t be able to do True Food Kitchen justice. They aren’t 100% gf but before Chaz and I went to the San Diego location, Hordus took me to the one in Newport Beach for lunch with his oldest son a few years ago, the day after taking me to True Shabu. I was overwhelmed by how many things on the menu were gf since I’m used to having just a handful of options.


Menu from the Newport Beach location.

I know it’s hard to tell from the photo but there really were a lot of options and I wanted every single one of them. At the Newport Beach location, I had the Honey Lemonade with added matcha and we shared the Tuna Tataki as an appetizer. My main course was a turkey wrap (the wrap on the menu now is different) with sweet potatoes and kale as my sides. I wasn’t able to finish my sandwich or the sides so I got the leftovers to go and had them in Hordus’ fridge while hanging out with him and his kids. Guess who left the leftovers in the fridge?

I was thrilled when we discovered a location in San Diego. Chaz and I had already spent the day with two of my author friends (separately) – one we had lunch with and the other we walked around Balboa Park with and saw things like koi trying to eat the ducks. Which would explain this huge koi we saw outside Inamori Pavilion. It was so big I had to reference it as a joke in my latest book.


Back to True Food. I started with the Matcha Horchata


It was so good I had two. Next was Chicken Noodle Soup. No joke. Real gf chicken noodle soup on a menu. It was glorious. *queue up choir of angels*


And then you’ll never guess what happened. I ordered the special. Who gets to order the special when they can’t have gluten and aren’t at a 100% gf restaurant? Turns out, in this case, me. It was sea bass and it was scrumptious.


Last – yes, there’s more – there was dessert to be hand and it wasn’t ice cream or creme brulee. It was gf Frangipane with pear compote. To. Die. For.


If you can’t take my word for it, how about my friend Valerie? She seems to have traveled (for work) to all the areas where there is a True Food Kitchen and she has a lot of photos on her Instagram like this one.

Gluten-Free in Encinitas: Solterra Winery & Kitchen


We drove up to meet Hordus at Dana Point, a sort of meet in the middle since we weren’t able to see him while we were in L.A. If he looks familiar to you it’s because I’ve done a restaurant post with him in before, and if you follow my Chocolate Wasteland blog, I just did a post about him being one of my best friends.


We lingered over lunch before driving down to the marina to wander around and then sip on some wine. Before we knew it, it was time for him to leave because he had dinner plans.


We drove back down to Encinitas so I could ground myself in the sand and watch the sun set.


Cardiff State Beach is the setting for some scenes in my first novel, Family Ties, but none of the scenes take place at sunset. If you’d like to see more real life settings I used, you can check them out here.


We then drove up 101 to Solterra Winery & Kitchen for dinner. Pro tip: make reservations if you want to eat here. We didn’t have reservations but they had a high top for two right outside the entrance. This place is not 100% gluten-free but when we asked the hostess about a gluten-free menu she was knowledgeable about my needs without me asking questions, pointed out what wasn’t marked gf that could be gf if I wanted it, told our server before she came to our table about my needs, and checked on us twice to make sure I was doing well.


Solterra offers cask wines and I couldn’t pass that up – why bother with the middleman…er bottle? I tried the La Sureña (white) and Chaz had the Ainsley Reserve (Cab blend). If we were to go back, it would be my mission to have every single wine they serve. They also have a wine club. *wink wink*


We ordered the Cheese & Charcuterie plate and they gave us housemade gf crackers to go with it – I didn’t even ask for them!


And because it was important to eat our veggies we ordered Roasted Brussel Sprouts.

I would go back to Solterra in a heartbeat. Who wants to go with? I’ll even make the reservations.