Eating Gluten Free & Shopping in Historic Petaluma

October 11, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Restaurants

For a bite of the old wild west with a nip of progress, you must stop in Petaluma on your way out to the Napa wine country, or the Sonoma Raceway, or camping in the Redwood Forests.

Petaluma is my hometown, but seldom am I able to visit. Planning for my high school reunion, I hunted on the Internet for a fun place to eat that would suit my gluten-free dining needs, not expecting to find one. All my favorite childhood restaurants were Italian and serve pasta and pizza. Even though those restaurants are still there, my health and eating requirements have changed.

Luckily, Petaluma evolved with me.

Somewhere along the way, after I had gone to college, I heard a rumor that Petaluma won a city renovation government grant, perhaps due to its cool historic old late-1800s downtown that was featured in George Lucas’s hot rod movie American Graffiti.

With a big influx of money, Petaluma built a nice movie theater, new plaza, river bridges, and several International style restaurants and cafes. When I was a kid, I never heard any foreign languages around town. After the renovations, people from around the world made their way to my little stinky town; it was really cool.

You know when you have arrived in Petaluma because just outside Novato on Highway 101 heading north, it starts to wreak of cow manure, and the smell wafts throughout town. This is a positive, a reminder that you are out in the country where happy cows graze the grasses of the pastures owned by family and friends, not corporations.

The old families who run the restaurants, saloons, and speakeasys all remain too. See below for more information about them.

After looking at every single new restaurant on Google Maps that was anywhere near the reunion, I finally found Wild Goat Bistro and was totally blown away by them and their special menu  ”Gluten Free”! I made a reservation for me and the gals.

When I was a kid, the Old Mill, where the restaurant is, never really had anything good in it. Today, the Petaluma Old Mill is a woman’s wonderland! It’s a great place for a nice man to treat his lady to a special Pretty Woman day.

I arrived an hour early to check out the Wild Goat Bistro, make sure it was good enough for my best friends. It was beyond ok, the Old Mill location on the river is absolutely charming, as are the friendly staff. A Euro vibe is created by its close quarters and small room made of stone, wood, and copper.  There is seating inside and outside for singles at counters or large groups on long tables. There is something for every type of diet, including organic, local fresh ingredients, and gluten free food options. You can see in my top image a sampling of the food we ate — and the gluten-free carrot cake, delicious!!! They also have gluten-free artisan pizza.

After my long drive, I sought out the Old Mill restroom, which was in the same old spot it always was.

I happened across Sorella, which means Sister in Italian. Sorella is a hair studio and fashion boutique owned by two sisters.

Being a woman, I could not help but be sucked in by all the adorable dresses and sweaters pouting at me from the windows. I had never seen such great fashion in Petaluma. We had Mervyn’s which met our basic needs of underwear and t-shirts, but it wasn’t like this, like shopping in Paris, or London, or New York.

Lexi Radomile, who stocks Sorella’s clothing side and sews herself, has exceptional big city taste. If you want high fashion (MEN! and Women) but don’t want to drive to San Francisco, you must find this hidden little spot inside the Old Mill on Petaluma Boulevard near Washington Boulevard, downtown across from McNear’s Theater and pub. If you can’t make it to Petaluma, you can also shop with her online.

The OLD MILL, Wild Goat Bistro, and Sorella are at 6 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma, CA  94952.
Wild Goat Bistro reservations (707) 658-1156
http://www.wildgoatbistro.com/wildgoatbistro/Home.html
Sorella info (707) 769-9983
http://sorellahairandfashion.com/

GLUTENFREE ON THE RUN… If you are on a tight budget or in a hurry, some well known places in Petaluma where you can get gluten-free food are WholeFoods at 621 East Washington Street, Petaluma, CA 94952 or at Aqus Cafe. For a gluten-free snack or breakfast or lunch, Aqus Cafe offers gluten-free bread and other options, good live music, films, and coffee! Everyday Happy Hour 4:30-6:30pm
http://www.aquscafe.com/main/index.php
189 H Street Petaluma CA 707.778.6060

LOCAL DIVES, MUST-DO, & MUST-SEE IN PETALUMA:

Go have a drink in the 1920s speakeasy of Volpi’s Ristorante & Bar. Pass through the front restaurant to the bar hidden in the back. If gluten is not a problem for you, they have good Italian food and a cool old wood floor atmosphere.
124 Washington St Petaluma, CA 94952

To see all the beautiful animals that used to live in the area and the ghosts of hunter enthusiasts past, see the unofficial museum of Andresen’s Bar at  19 Western Avenue, Petaluma, CA 94952. Very small. Very local. Cash only.

If you want to see how the locals GET STUPID since 1938, go to the Buckhorn out at 615 Petaluma Boulevard South Petaluma, CA 94952.
http://www.buckhorntavern.com/

Read the history and see some beautiful photos of Petaluma here: http://www.petalumadowntown.com/welcome.html
There are lots of antiques, restaurants, cafes, and lovely architecture on Petaluma Boulevard. The good ol’ American Butter & Eggs Parade is in April or May. And there is just so much more…

Petaluma is a romantic contradiction of old and new. I love my hometown and hope you do too.

Article & Food Photographs by Jaden Alexander. Jaden modeling Sorella’s clothes, pictures taken by Lexi Radomile

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