Food allergies are not new to the industry, but they continue to have a deep impact on the dining experience. Guests can quickly turn away from a restaurant if they feel their food won’t be safely prepared. However, restaurants have become more cognizant of guests with these special diets and some are excelling at catering to these consumers.
For the first time, AllergyEats unveiled a list of the top ten allergy-friendly independent restaurants in America. Over the past seven years the organization has released the top allergy-friendly chains across the country, but this is the first time independent restaurants are being recognized.
“AllergyEats congratulates the restaurants on this list for having earned the highest allergy-friendliness ratings from the food allergy community,” Paul Antico, founder and CEO of AllergyEats said. “While no guarantee of a ‘safe’ meal can ever be made, these are the restaurants where AllergyEats restaurant raters have had their best experiences, which is invaluable information when traveling. By publishing these lists, AllergyEats continues to further its mission of connecting diners with community-recommended restaurants while highlighting those that are consistently ranked best.”
Methodology: This list is derived from the restaurant reviews of food-allergic diners across the U.S. on the AllergyEats app and website (www.allergyeats.com).
Located just outside of Baltimore, One Dish Cuisine caters specifically to diners with special diets. The restaurant boasts it’s Maryland’s and the United States’ only completely Gluten-Free, Certified Gluten-Free, Allergen-Friendly, and Vegan-Friendly Café, Deli and Bakery. To ensure no cross contamination occurs in the kitchen, there are two cooking lines with dedicated equipment and tools. The Green Kitchen contains milk products while the Blue Kitchen does not contain milk, dairy, lactose, or whey products.
This contemporary American restaurant is located in the heart of Asheville’s historic downtown. The menu is crafted with seasonal ingredients from local growers and urban gardens. Guests with special diets are met with a knowledgeable wait staff that clearly communicates their needs to the kitchen. “My whole family enjoyed this restaurant. It was great to find a restaurant that truly gets food allergies,” a reviewer wrote on AllergyEats.
The train-themed diner has a vast menu and a fun, family-friendly atmosphere to entertain guests of all ages. According to reviewers on AllergyEats, the staff is knowledgeable of allergies and can walk diners through the best options depending on their allergy.
This beach barbecue joint first opened in 2003. From fresh seafood to award-winning brisket, Bethany Blues is a dining destination on the Delaware beaches. The staff is accommodating to special requests whether it’s regarding a takeout order or when someone is dining in the restaurant. “The manager will come to your table and discuss all food allergies and questions. We had a great meal and were very satisfied with the level of preparation provided to us,” a reviewer wrote on AllergyEats.
You can boat, float, or paddle up to this waterfront restaurant in Florida. Wanting to create an overall worry-free experience, Lulu’s provides special allergy menus to guests who have allergies or specific diets. Before arriving at the restaurant guests can explore the menu online. A feature on the site allows diners to click through different menus depending if they are dairy free, egg free, gluten free, shellfish free, soy free, or seafood free.
Food for Thought’s dining experience goes beyond the plate. Decorated with pictures of historical figures, including inventors, scientists, and social leaders, the concept wants guests to have a thought-charged conversation while they dine. “Our diner’s choices vary from classic American dishes, to more ethnic dishes to healthier vegetarian or one of our nightly seafood specialties. We also provide a gluten-free menu,” the company said.
Over the past two decades, Big Fish Grill has been a casual dining seafood destination that has garnered numerous awards. While the menu is focused around seafood, the restaurant works with guests to cater to all allergies and customers who are dairy free.
Located in the heart of downtown Chicago, this Italian restaurant serves up regional specialties, seasonal dishes, and, of course, pizza. One AllergyEats reviewer writes, “We put ‘allergy’ on the OpenTable reservation. As the server introduced himself, he said, ‘And I understand there is an allergy at the table? What are those allergies?’ First, he told my son to stay away from the cheese on the table, and also the homemade noodles as those both continued egg. But then he told him all the things he could eat. This made us feel like he was informed and we could make a confident choice about the meal.”
This fast-casual restaurant thrives on crafting creative dishes that are also healthy. Every dish that leaves the Farmer’s Keep kitchen is gluten free, dairy free, egg free, nut free and shellfish free. “As the parent of a child living with life-threatening allergies this locally owned and operated restaurant is a gift,” writes an AllergyEats reviewer. “The food is fresh, flavorful, and just plain delicious. The atmosphere is comfortable and has the ascetic of home. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
Established in 1936, The Skipper is one of the oldest waterfront restaurants in Cape Cod. The award-winning clam chowder is a favorite of locals, but the restaurant pretty much has every type of seafood a diner could want. That being said, the staff is very aware that diners could have seafood and other allergies and are able to offer other options easily.
“One of the very first things the waitress said, ‘Is there anyone in your party with a food allergy?’ Right then and there my ears perked up,” an AllergyEats reviewer writes. “The manager came over and assured us there were no peanuts in the kitchen. He also said the bread basket comes with sesame seed cracker and they make the bread in house so they brought us a modified basket of fresh warm rolls.”