We live in an age of severe allergies. Has it always been this way, and we're just now able to connect with each other and identify the causes of previously mysterious ailments? Or, has something changed about how and what we eat that has led to an increase in people suffering from food? Whatever the reason, there is a huge market for delicious food that's free from some of the more common allergens: gluten, corn and soy.
Diana Benedek, founder of 2GOOD2BE Bakery & Café in Encinitas suffered from myriad debilitating health problems—from fibromyalgia to migraines—until she started to change her diet and learned, through genetic testing, that she suffered from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, as well as an allergy to corn. Thus, 2GOOD2BE was born.
I have no allergies, and can only imagine the frustration and anxiety that comes with navigating what most of us take for granted: eating. To have one of our most basic needs and pleasurable experiences turned into a mine field must be incredibly frustrating, particularly when it comes to limiting and eliminating things that can make eating so delightful.
The cafe seeks to be a culinary refuge for those who struggle with food allergies, providing breakfast, lunch and now dinner, as well as custom cakes and baked goods. But it's clear their kitchen isn't just churning out food that is "good enough" for people who are used to accepting less than the full eating experience. They're committed to serving delicious and healthful food that can be enjoyed by everyone, without anyone feeling like dishes are lacking.
Everything is baked in-house, and you can even buy loaves of their gluten-free bread to take home. The basil pesto chicken sandwich was summery and tangy, with tons of garlicky pesto. I ordered this hearty sammie on the 7-seed bread and was wowed at how toothsome and tasty the bread was. The only thing I have found to be problematic with some gluten-free bread (and this one was no exception) is that they don't seem to travel well. I got my sandwich to go, and by the time I was ready to dig in, the pesto-coated layer of bread was breaking down. The flavors were all there, though, so just eat your sandwiches in house for the best experience.
I loved the chicken pot pie, with an impressively flaky top crust and a creamy filling, with tender shreds of chicken and a ton of fragrant, fresh herbs. Each entrée comes with some pretty great sides, including roasted root veggies, a mildly spicy rice-and-pork dish and thick slabs of cheesy bread pudding. The only miss I experienced was the basic cheese flatbread, which reminded me of a school cafeteria.
The bakery case is not to be missed, with a dense and fudgy brownie, sweet and savory muffins and scones, and a colorful array of cupcakes, including many that are dairy-free.
Even those of us who don't have to navigate the minefield of food allergies would do well to seek out 2GOOD2BE for delicious choices.