Updated: Jun 27, 2020
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I have a giant sweet tooth, so the first thing I look for when I travel to a new city is a gluten free bakery! Now, I will admit that I haven't traveled everywhere in the USA, so this is obviously not a comprehensive list; however, I have traveled around quite a bit, so many major metro areas are represented. For this list, I have only listed dedicated gluten free bakeries, but I have tried many more bakeries that were not dedicated gluten free in cities across the country, so if you need a recommendation, feel free to reach out to me!
New York City: Erin McKenna's Bakery
Erin McKenna's Bakery is located in downtown Manhattan and is completely gluten free, vegan, kosher, and non-GMO. They have tons of different products including donuts, cookies, cupcakes, loaves (lemon, carrot, etc.), bagels, and other rotating specialties. When I lived in NYC, I would visit this bakery pretty much every week (and sometimes more often), so I have tried almost all of their menu. While they are a bit pricey, it is worth it. All of my friends I've brought (maybe dragged) to the bakery have been shocked to find out it is completely gluten free and vegan, saying they wouldn't have been able to tell if I hadn't let them know.
Why is it the best in all of NYC? Most other dedicated gluten free bakeries in the boroughs have one or two options for those with additional allergies (such as dairy, egg, soy, etc.) whereas all of their products cater to multiple food allergy needs.
Buy her cookbook here*.
Denver: Allergy Free Baking Company
Allergy Free Baking Company is located in Morrison, CO and is dedicated gluten free, peanut free, nut free, and dairy free. For those like me with additional allergies, they also have some products that are egg free, corn free, or soy free. While this bakery does not have unlimited options for me, I have found some absolutely delicious pastries in their egg free collection. I highly recommend their scones and cinnamon rolls which are just AMAZING.
Why is it my favorite in all of Denver? For those of you who have been to Denver, you know they are pretty great with food allergies. There are tons of options, but this is my go-to because of the customer service. They remembered me after just one visit even though I'm only in town every couple of months for business. It is truly a wonderful local bakery who appreciates their loyal customers!
Phoenix: Gluten Free Creations Bakery
Gluten Free Creations Bakery has a couple locations in the Phoenix area, but I've always gone to the Scottsdale location. They are a dedicated gluten free bakery with options that are also free from egg, dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, corn, yeast, processed white sugar or grains. In addition to being a bakery, they have a dine in menu for breakfast and lunch options. Again, this bakery does not have unlimited options for those with multiple allergies, but they have A LOT of different products, so you do not feel left out searching for safe options. Some of my favorites are the Very Merry Marshmallow Bar (Vegan), Cherry Almond Bundt Cake, and the Berry Champagne Cupcake.
Why is it the best? There are much more limited options in Phoenix compared to some areas, but this bakery does not disappoint. They have tons of options and are willing to take suggestions to expand their menu.
Los Angeles: Rising Hearts Bakery and Erin McKenna's Bakery (hear me out)
Rising Hearts Bakery:
(I don't have a picture, but I essentially ate a cookie that looked like this Conversation Heart)
Rising Hearts Bakery is located in Culver City and is completely gluten free, vegan, and kosher. This "hole in the wall" bakery has absolutely delicious items. I tried it this past year and only bought a couple items because I was worried I wouldn't like their baked goods. I'll just be upfront and let you know that was a stupid mistake I pretty much instantly regretted as I munched down on my Conversation Heart style soft cookie on the plane home. Unfortunately, I only tried a couple cookies and a bagel, but I will be going back ASAP to try everything else and I recommend you do too.
Why is it my favorite? Any place that you can walk into and pick items based on what sounds good or looks good is a HUGE deal to those with food allergies. You don't come across places like that often if you have multiple food allergies, so this bakery is a godsend.
Erin McKenna's Bakery:
So you're probably thinking, "Hey, you already recommended this place!" which is completely valid, but their LA locations have an expanded menu compared to the original NYC location including brunch, lunch, and dinner options in addition to all the baked goods. This means they have gluten free, vegan pizza, biscuits and gravy, sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, and much, much more. If you're like me, it means that when you visit LA, you have to pack stretchy pants because you (maybe) eat way too much.
Why is it my favorite? This bakery has items that are conventionally very difficult to find for folks with Celiac like pizza and brunch items. Plus, since Erin moved to LA a few years back, you might get lucky like me and run into her in the store! (She is super nice and appreciates loyal customers, so don't be afraid to say hi!)
Greater Washington DC Metro Area: Bakefully Yours
Bakefully Yours is located in Sterling, VA but can be found in coffee shops and stores all around Northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. This bakery is dedicated gluten free and is paleo. While not all of their items are dairy or egg free for those with allergies (or vegans), they do have some options in that realm. I will give the warning that their products can be either very oily or very dry, so it is not for everyone.
Why is it the best? Now I'll be honest, I have been shocked at how few gluten free, dairy free, and egg free bakery options there are in the DC Metro Area since I moved here a couple years ago, so this is my favorite mostly because the number of safe products is more than just one. Their baked goods do "taste" paleo, but they are very easily available at coffee shops around the area. This makes going to grab coffee with a friend less weird that they grab a snack and you don't.
Greater Chicago Area: Sweet Ali's Gluten Free Bakery
Sweet Ali's Gluten Free Bakery is located in Hinsdale, IL and Glenview, IL. They are a dedicated gluten free bakery with some vegan options. When I went, I just tried "basic" options like the chocolate chip cookies and brownies, but even those were really delicious. Most of their vegan options were frozen, so be prepared that you will need to bring them home and heat them up.
Why is it the best? Again, I loved this place because of its family feel and great customer service. The employees were super helpful when I was trying to find a safe option which was really helpful since my day had been stressful.
If you are newly diagnosed or a food allergy expert worried about traveling, fear not. There are fantastic options nationwide that are safe for those with allergies! When in doubt, research ahead of time, and you should be able to find a great bakery.