Eating Gluten Free at Cuban Restaurant Café Paladar in San Francisco

September 1, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Restaurants

If you work downtown in San Francisco’s Financial district and haven’t eaten at Paladar Café Cubano, you simply aren’t enjoying life enough.

Paladar was my treat to myself on a rough work day. During the business lunch rush, it may be difficult to get a seat. I usually went on a sunny day so I could sit outside and pretend I was in a foreign country. There is a small front room and a larger seating area downstairs.

I ate at Paladar so often that, years later, when I come for a visit, they still remember me and my order. I always order the same gluten free meal: the Picadillo Cubano Estilo Elena, which is Niman ground beef seasoned with sofrito (onions, olives, tomatoes, bell peppers, wine), white rice, and plantains.

I love the staff and owners. They are so sweet, they even tried to find me a spouse, but I managed to get that sorted out on my own. It’s the kind of place you have to share: I have brought my co-workers, friends, and family here.

This Latin Soul Food cuisine is Cuban and Colombian inspired (Spanish, African, and Caribbean fusion) with lots of gluten free options. Paladar Café Cubano uses organic products, supports local agriculture, and has vegetarian meal options.

They serve yuca, plantains, salads, rice, beans, bocadillos hot pressed sandwiches, chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, Mexican Coke, Organic Mango Juice, Sandia Cooler (watermelon, cucumber, mint, lime), Batidos tropical fruit shakes, Sangria, and Cuban style coffee!

Price for a meal ranges from $9 to $13.

Shopping downtown at Union Square or working your fingers to the bone in the San Franciscan towers of power, Paladar Café Cubano is the perfect place to take a break and get a gluten free recharge.

HOURS: Monday — Friday 10am-3pm . Saturday 11am-3pm

LOCATION: 329 Kearny Street, San Francisco, California 94108, between Bush and Pine

ORDERS TO GO: 415.398.4899


How to Get Free Press for Your Restaurant

January 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Gluten Free Restaurants

One great way to get free press for your restaurant is by having a gluten-free option on the menu.

The only time I go to Italian restaurants in America is when someone else invites me. In order to be polite and easy-going, I don’t tell people about my gluten intolerance unless they are making a meal at their house for me and it is a need-to-know situation.

I assume, sometimes wrongly, that I will be able to find something at any restaurant: salad (without croutons), steak, fish, chicken, or vegetables.

At Italian restaurants in the USA, the menu usually consists mostly of pasta options (wheat white flour) and other items that are breaded. French bread is always served on each table, gratuit. Such restaurants are generally hell for someone with Celiac Disease. It’s almost impossible to not have gluten tainted food. It’s in the air, it’s on the counters, it’s on the tables, it’s everywhere.

Often, I bite the bullet, to be agreeable, and go anyway, despite the dangers.

At this Italian restaurant Sorella in Fairfax, a quaint town north of San Francisco, west off the 101 highway, I was extremely surprised to see they had a “glutten free pasta” option.

I don’t know if it is a gluttony joke (glutton meaning a habitual greed or excess in eating) or an innocent spelling error, but in hopes of purifying my soul, I ordered the “glutten free pasta” with cream sauce Alfredo.

It’s been days and I can still taste it in my mouth — the Alfredo sauce and sweet tender pasta was a divine experience! I haven’t ordered pasta in a restaurant since 2006, I think, and this was definitely the right time to give it a try.

We also ordered an unbreaded version of Chicken Piccata with vegetables and a dairy-free coconut creme caramel. They had a little something for everyone, all of it delicious.

When food is prepared by someone else, for some reason, it always seems to taste a lot better! Being able to sit down and eat, not have to cook or do dishes, is a relief.

Sorella was adorable inside and out. The strange shape structure was made of wood with a fishbowl array of windows encircling it. Inside, they had a big fireplace in the middle, tables and chairs jammed together like in Italy, and a personable smiling witty wonderful staff. They created a unique and special vibrant dining experience.

Sorella was packed to the brim and sure doesn’t need my press because they have word of mouth and a great local reputation.

If you were a tourist visiting California, you would never find this place. Now you know — you should find it. When passing through Marin County, if you feel like getting off the beaten path, Sorella will take a load off your shoulders and minds.

If you have Celiac Disease, there’s a good chance that you might get sick here, as at any restaurant, but, it’s worth it! I mean, how often can you have glutten free pasta?

And that my friends is how you get free press for your restaurant: be on the cutting edge of developing food trends and also maintain the warmth of the old world!

Get on the gluten-free wagon before it becomes commonplace. Invite your local newspaper foodie columnist or nearby gluten-free bloggers and let them know about your thoughtful dietary special accommodations. Serve good food. Have fun servers. Warm up your place with charm.

If you are opening a restaurant, go to Sorella and see how it’s done!