As soon as I was told that C was gluten intolerant, I had a friend telling me about the Mariposa Bakery in Oakland. In fact, that same friend had served up gluten-free cupcakes from Mariposa for her sons birthday party a few months earlier. I absorbed her advice and neatly filed it in my brain under the compartment for ‘things to try, but requires too much effort right now’. There were a lot of things that got filed in that particular compartment in those first weeks and months of switching the family to a gluten-free diet. As time went by, more people talked about Mariposa and it got shifted into the ‘things I really should have tried and feel to embarrassed to admit that I know nothing about it’ category. I’d smile and nod politely and say things like “yes, they are at the Ferry Building and San Rafael Farmers Market too”, making it sound like I knew everything that there was to know about the seemingly best gluten-free bakery in the Bay Area.
Then, one day, we went to the Farmers market at the Marin Civic Center on a Sunday morning to finally get a taste of what Mariposa had to offer. It was a wet day and when we went to the information stand to ask where the infamous bakery was, we were told that they had canceled that day due to the weather. What?
And so the saga continued, until we finally mobilized over Presidents Day weekend and got in the car to drive over the Richmond Bridge and track down the Mariposa Bakery and Café in Oakland. We drove past a few times and questioned the directions, until we finally pulled off the road, into the car park and found the sign for Mariposa pointing us to a warehouse-type building. We wondered what would await us and couldn’t quite believe it when we stepped inside. Our jaws dropped when we saw loaves of bread, cinnamon rolls, pizzas – you name it – all on display in front of us. The weekly gluten-free bread menu was hanging from the ceiling and because we couldn’t believe that we really had landed in gluten-free bakery heaven, we politely asked which items were actually gluten-free. We received a smile and the answer “everything here is gluten-free”. Wow. Ok – so if there was this much gluten-free ‘stuff’ on offer that really did look like the real deal, there was no way that it was going to taste good. Right? Wrong. We decided to sample a few things for lunch and ten minutes of silence and four empty plates later, we decided to buy some of just about everything to take back home with us. C’s favorite is the baguette. T’s the cinnamon rolls. M is probably in there with the baguette brigade and I’m a big fan of the multi grain bread. The pizzas are amazing too and I have a few friends who croon over the cupcakes.
Since the café experience, we’ve also successfully tracked down Mariposa at the San Rafael farmers Market on Sundays and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. We did note that the baguette at the Farmers Market seemed a little less fresh than the loaves that we purchased in Oakland and at the Ferry Building. It was a mild disappointment – but won’t stop us from the convenience of driving 10 minutes up the freeway on a Sunday morning. The great thing about the latter two locations is that you can order items from the bakery in Oakland and have them waiting for you in San Rafael or San Francisco for pick up.
Another string to the Mariposa bow, is that they also now take orders on-line. Wow. If you are nowhere near the Bay Area and are in need of a good gluten-free bakery fix, then I highly recommend that you give this a try!