I'm not gluten-free by choice; my health depends on it. About a year ago, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease: hypothyroidism. In the beginning, it was hard to navigate what menu items were gluten-free, but now that I have explored the Berkeley food scene, I want to share with you the best gluten-free food in Berkeley.

Mochi Waffle

Third Culture Bakery

Move over dense, bland muffins. Enter moist, gooey mochi waffles!

Third Culture is my absolute favorite bakery. Not only are all of its products gluten-free, they are made with the highest quality ingredients: Koda Farms rice flour, organic French-style butter, and local dairy milk.

Here you'll find unique flavors of mochi donuts like Vietnamese coffee, pandan, and passion fruit in the form of mochi muffins, waffles. They also offer specialty drinks like hojicha lattes and matcha sparklers. The rice flour gives their baked goods a soft, chewy texture that's reminiscent of the mochi you get from Japanese supermarkets. 

My recommendations are the mochi brownie, black sesame mochi muffin, and burnt caramel hojicha latte.

Everyone I’ve met at Third Culture is kind and passionate. There’s nowhere else I’d rather get my gluten-free desserts at than Third Culture.

Tofu Bibimbap Bowl with Sesame Ginger Sauce

 Mad Seoul

Mad Seoul is the perfect, quick lunch for a busy college student. This quick-service restaurant is like the Korean version of Chipotle, but with ingredients that make up a bibimbap.

What I love about Mad Seoul is how fresh the ingredients are, all the way down to the house-made sauces. Sadly, none of the meats are gluten-free because they contain soy sauce in the marinades, but you can get the tofuTop your bowl with vegetables such as kimchi, mung bean sprouts, zucchini, and mushrooms, and finish it off with their gluten-free sesame ginger sauce. 

Rice Noodles with Peanut Sauce

Toss Noodle Bar

Another DIY creative restaurant, Toss Noodle Bar allows you to choose from 6 types of noodles, a sauce, and a protein. Rice noodles are the gluten-free option here, and any of the sauces can be prepared gluten-free. I recommend the Japanese sweet and sour sauce with any of the protein options—the dish is prepared with egg and vegetables too. With such large portions here, you'll have some tasty leftovers. 

Honey-Soy Chicken Bowl with Secret Aioli Sauce

Fresh Roll

Fresh Roll is a quick-service restaurant that allows you to build your own Vietnamese bowl. I love the build-your-own concept because you know exactly what is going into your bowl and you can easily cater it to your dietary needs. The majority of the menu is gluten-free, and it is clearly labeled as such. I recommend the honey-soy chicken with nam nam sauce (secret aioli)the chicken is so juicy and tender. Finish off your meal with some taro chips and ginger basil lemonade.

Dragon Bowl with Gluten-Free Granola

Palm Açaí Cafe

There aren’t really any smoothie bowl places within reasonable walking distance from the UC Berkeley campus, but Palm Açaí is worth the walk down College Avenue. With toppings like kiwi and mango, and bases such as pitaya and matcha, these tropical-inspired bowls are sure to whisk you away to a Hawaiian paradise. All of the bases are dairy and gluten-free. Just be sure to ask for gluten-free granola!

#SpoonTip: To find out if a restaurant offers gluten-free items, try searching “gluten” or “gluten-free” in the reviews on its Yelp page to see if people have written reviews about those options there.

Living with dietary restrictions sometimes makes social situations tough. With these places under your belt, your friends will be sure to come along with you, and I bet they'll enjoy the gluten-free food in Berkeley just as much as you will.