By JENNIFER ISCOL

Smokin' Bowls interior

Smokin’ Bowls in Rohnert Park

The new gluten-free restaurant Smokin’ Bowls in the city of Rohnert Park, California, has an entirely different approach from typical gluten-free restaurant offerings – loads of flavor, hearty servings and great prices, with owners dedicated to bringing to a modest strip mall location a spirited cuisine you’d normally find at a favorite food truck.

The menu is entirely free of gluten and peanuts, and almost entirely soy-free as well. It includes eight creative and flavorful bowls with names like Dragon Bowl (pictured above), Bowl Named Sue and Rohnert Pork. The bowls have chicken, beef, turkey or pulled pork, and the menu includes salads and sides. The French fries are fried in beef tallow for added flavor. The bowls and salads range from $6.25-$8.25.

Nick Topolos

Co-owner Nick Topolos

A ninth bowl is vegan and as hearty and richly flavored as the others, with brown rice, veggies, coconut curry, cashews and dried cranberries, and there are plans to expand vegetarian and vegan options. For now, vegetarians can also order one of the other entrees or salads and subtract the meat from the dish at a reduced price.

How adventurous is this place? The sole dessert currently on the menu is S’Mores Fries. Co-owner Nick Topolos said they are also exploring partnerships with local gluten-free bakers to expand their dessert menu until they are ready to begin baking in house.

Asian Chicken Salad

Asian Chicken Salad

The restaurant, which has been getting overwhelmingly rave online reviews since its September 1st opening, has plenty of room for small groups, with a welcoming ultra-casual atmosphere. The three owners, friends who have been working for two years to open this self-funded venture, are locals with restaurant experience and a measured approach to growing the business slowly and steadily. Families in the area have already been enjoying the restaurant in its opening weeks, and students at nearby Sonoma State University are starting to discover it’s great for both studying and late night munchies.

Among the restaurant’s new devotees are diners with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Everything from the nacho cheese sauce to the gravy is made from scratch to ensure it is celiac safe. Ingredients like rice flour come from a certified gluten-free supplier and gluten is not allowed into the kitchen at all. For gluten-free diners, it is a pleasure to order anything on the menu and get a generous, flavor-intensive meal at an excellent price.