Tucson, nestled in the heart of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, is a city rich in history and natural beauty. Officially founded in 1775, it’s one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America. Renowned for its stunning desert landscapes, including the iconic Saguaro cactus, Tucson is surrounded by five mountain ranges, providing a scenic backdrop and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and mountain biking.
The city is celebrated for its vibrant arts and cultural scene, including the Tucson Museum of Art and the annual Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, one of the largest in the world. Tucson’s culinary scene is noteworthy too, particularly for its unique Sonoran-style Mexican cuisine; in fact, it was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Tucson also boasts significant historical sites, such as the San Xavier del Bac Mission, a stunning example of Spanish colonial architecture. With its blend of natural beauty, history, culture, and cuisine, Tucson offers a distinctive and enriching experience in the American Southwest.
And amidst all these attractions, Tucson is also attuned to the dietary needs of its visitors and residents. With the rising awareness of celiac disease (an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and their hybrids, leads to damage in the small intestine) and gluten intolerance, or non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (a non-autoimmune condition in which gluten consumption causes sickness after eating), finding a good meal between taking in the sights has never been easier. (A happy fact for the roughly 1% of Americans with celiac and 6% with gluten intolerance.)
If you’re on a gluten-free diet, here are some of the top restaurants that are reported to have gluten-free menus or options in Tucson, Arizona. (Remember to always alert your server to any dietary restrictions. Some of the venues listed here may not be safe for those with celiac or who are sensitive to cross-contamination. Be sure to call the restaurant ahead of time with any concerns.)
Gluten-free restaurants in Tucson, Arizona
1. Gourmet Girls Gluten Free Bakery/Bistro
5845 N. Oracle Road, Tucson, Arizona 85704
Promoted as Tucson’s “original” 100% gluten-free bakery and bistro, this establishment serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch, with breakfast served all day. Menu options range from savory offerings such as egg sandwiches, pasta, and pizza to an ever-changing selection of baked goods, including muffins, cakes, cookies, pies, and more. Hard cider, wine, and signature cocktails are also available.
4500 E. Speedway Boulevard, Suite 41, Tucson, Arizona 85712
This family-run bakery is owned and operated by people who “know what it means to have a diagnosis change your whole life” and are walking the gluten-free walk. Their breads, pastries, muffins, and other assorted goodies are baked from scratch every day and are available on location as well as through retail, restaurants, and at special events. I tried something similar in a gluten-free restaurant in Brooklyn.
3. 5 Points
756 South Stone Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85701
Opened in 2014, this restaurant challenges the notion that profitability in the service industry requires exploitation. It pays a living wage and provides health insurance to its workers and sources local, sustainably grown foods. The menu features dishes that either are naturally or can be made gluten free, including Huevos Rancheros, Smoked Salmon Benedict, and Cobb Salad. Vegan options are also available.
7065 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, Arizona 85715
With a new look and a slight name change, Renee’s features dine-in, drinks, and takeout menus with a variety of gluten-free options. Offerings include salads, sandwiches, pasta, pizza, and dessert options from Flourless Chocolate Cake to Ginger Molasses Bundt Cake. Vegan options are also available.
3719 E Speedway, Tucson, Arizona 85716
With roots as a carry-out establishment, Feast now features a 110-seat restaurant, wine bar, private dining area, and wine shop, but it still offers all of its menu items for takeout. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant highlights Items that can be prepared gluten-free on the menu, and a variety of vegan and diabetes-friendly dishes are also available.
6. The Cork
6320 E. Tanque Verde Road, Tucson, Arizona 85715
Established in 1966 and housed in an architecturally impressive building featuring Mexican-crafted adobe bricks, this cozy, vintage restaurant offers sustainably caught seafood and prime steak, poultry, and exotic game. Gluten-free entrees include New York Strip, Cork Prime Rib, Bison Filet, and Blackened Chicken.
7. Tito & Pep
4122 East Speedway Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona 85712
A James Beard Foundation Awards 2022 semi-finalist, this contemporary venue in midtown Tucson focuses on mesquite-fired cuisine. Chef and owner John Martinez draws on his more than 20 years’ experience in the United States and abroad to create a distinctive and flavorful menu, featuring gluten-free options, including Spring Vegetable Posole Verde, Sea of Cortez Shrimp, Grilled Salmon, and Buttermilk Panna Cotta. These dishes greatly remind me of the dishes I saw being served in a gluten-free restaurant in Brooklyn, New York. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.
Set your sights (and appetites) on these Southwestern sanctuaries of flavor. In Tucson, the only things more abundant than the cacti are the culinary adventures that await around every turn. Indulge in Tucson’s vibrant gastronomy and savor every gluten-free bite in this oasis of taste.
Disclaimer of Medical Advice: This information does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual needs.