When I first started traveling while gluten free, all things food related felt rather terrifying.
Would I be able to find safe foods to eat at the grocery store? Would I be able to eat anything other than steak and a salad? Would I have to go out to dinner with my coworkers and awkwardly not order? How would I prepare any of the "toast for best quality" gluten free breads in my hotel room?
The answers to many of those questions were not easy and I've certainly sat in a few awkward restaurants with coworkers, trying not to touch the gluten crumb covered tables.
And then I found it.
My saving grace of traveling while gluten free; the entirely gluten free bakery.
All of a sudden, I had a new reason to enjoy travel. The sampling of local gluten free baked goods at every location I could make my way to, both across the United States and beyond. It's turned in to a travel tradition of sorts.
Now going into my 5th year of living gluten free and having traveled to 6 countries, 18 states, and over 70 cities since that time - I've found a number of gluten free bakeries which stand out above the rest. These bakeries are ones I've made special trips to, had their treats shipped to me across state lines, and overall gone completely out of my way to visit because they're just that good at what they do.
Below you'll find my picks for gluten free bakeries which are worth the trip as well as one of their baked goods I long for the most.
Oakland, California, USA
Mariposa's bagels and breads were the first indication I had that gluten free baked goods could actually taste great. When they came out with their Penguinos (both gluten free and vegan) I just about cried. They're moist, rich, and met all the memories I had of Hostess Cupcakes - without all the nasty ingredients and frosting I never liked anyway.
San Carlos, California, USA
Zest Bakery | Sugar Cookies
It may sound awfully simplistic, but a good sugar cookie topped sprinkles is one of my favorite treats. In my gluten eating days, I used to pick up a box of seasonally sprinkled cookies to celebrate every holiday. Until I made it to Zest, I hadn't yet found a truely good gluten free sugar cookie like those I used to enjoy.
San Francisco, California, USA
If I had to choose only one gluten filled thing I missed, my answer without hesitation, was always San Francisco Sourdough. While BreadSRSLY doesn't have a shop you can pop into, their bread can be found in stores around the Bay Area and even better, THEY SHIP! When I finally broke down and bet my money on a pack of three loaves, I had a feeling my bank account might be in long term trouble. While their bread is denser than the sourdough I used to enjoy - the taste and texture (especially of the crust) is excellent. I'm no longer left wanting for my all time favorite baked good.
Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
Kyra's Bake Shop | Brownies
After sampling a number of Kyra's dairy free treats, its easy to tell why she's won Cupcake Wars three times with gluten free cupcakes. While her treats lack gluten and some dairy, eggs, etc. - you would never guess it. Her sweet treats are in a category of quality all their own, making her shop just south of Portland a must stop. My personal favorite of her treats are the brownies, a treat I've never successfully baked from scratch. For the holidays they were topped with crunched up candy canes and I found that variation completely addictive.
Portland, Oregon, USA
New Cascadia Traditional Bakery | Rustic Baguettes
I'll make this one short and sweet; BEST GLUTEN FREE BREAD I'VE EVER HAD. Really, that's all you need to know. I've made day trips from Seattle to Portland just to buy this bread. Pro tip: call at least 72 hours ahead of time and place on order for the goods you want - things sell out early in the day. Their challah, bagels, and galettes are also order worthy.
Petunia's Pies & Pastries | Sandwich Cookies
Its hard to believe when you walk into this adorable shop that everything is both vegan and gluten free. I mean, there's even an ice cream bar complete with the most wonderful of toppings. On the bakery side of things, their seasonal sandwich cookies put all other gluten free vegan sweets to shame. My favorite flavor; vanilla cookies with guava filling.
Seattle, Washington, USA
NuFlours | Oatmeal Cookies
I've been fortunate enough to have a front row seat to watch NuFlours grow to what it is today and where it's going in the future. When Dolce Lou first appeared at my local farmers market, I couldn't have been more thrilled to have a good gluten free baker selling sweets in Seattle (because frankly - nothing else in this city is really any good). Two re-brandings later, NuFlours is still my favorite gluten free bakery in Seattle and even better - they're gearing up to open their first brick and mortar shop in Capitol Hill. If I had to pick one type of treat they do best, its their cookies. Their oatmeal raisin is the best I've ever had, gluten free or not and I also love their seasonal maple cherry cookie.
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
The Gluten Free Epicurean | Apple Fritters
My goodness, these apple fritters are maybe the only treat I start salivating over just thinking about. Crisp, fluffy, fruit filled, and sinfully delicious - I'm pretty sure they could cure any of my woes. You can be certain that another trip to Vancouver will happen soon so I can return to try more of their treats, even if I end getting wildly lost on my way there again.
So there you have it, my picks for gluten free bakeries worth the trip.
As you probably noticed, this list consists solely of bakeries on the West Coast of the United States and Canada. While I have tasted delicious treats in many other parts of the United States and abroad - none of them have stood up to the same level of the bake shops I've highlighted above; a gluten free bakery worth traveling for.
That being said, I'm sure there are plenty of amazing gluten free bakeries I have yet to try, like Helmut NewCake in Paris which was closed while I was there two years ago (major bummer!). I also still haven't had any mindblowingly good gluten free scones, cakes, pies, pastries, or old fashioned donuts. So the challenge and opportunity for discovery awaits!
Are there any gluten free bakeries you would travel to?