Dining out should be an enjoyable experience. C'mon, who doesn't love having a great meal where everyone gets something they like and nobody has to clean dishes afterward? Great food, good times, no stress, right?
Unfortunately, dining out can be super stressful when a member of your family has food allergies or a related condition. You not only have to worry about the ingredients used in the dish for your loved one, but also about how the kitchen staff handles those ingredients. Especially when severe food allergy reactions are a possibility, the risk of cross-contamination in the restaurant kitchen can cause stress.
Thankfully, Allergy Eats! has come to the rescue with their annual list of the Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains nationwide. Be sure to check often to look for updates!
Wait: Who is 'AllergyEats' and why should I trust them?
If you're not familiar, AllergyEats describes itself as "the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants in the United States." That's a big claim? How can they possibly back this up?
AllergyEats is a free, peer-based website and app (for both Apple and Android devices) where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies. The site, app and related social media forums allow families with food allergies to help each other reduce guesswork and limit some of the anxiety surrounding dining out with food allergies. We're all about free, and you can't beat social support systems where you can get input from families like your own!
AllergyEats has a goal to help members of the food allergy community make informed decisions about where to dine. By being able to read about how well or poorly a restaurant has accommodated other diners’ with food allergies, you can narrow done which restaurants you might like to visit. AllergyEats lists more than 750,000 restaurants across the country and invites people like you to rate them.
You can easily search restaurants in AllergyEats platforms by your location, so you can find allergy-friendly restaurants near home or around the country when you travel. As always, it's still important for you to ask questions of restaurant staff to make sure you're comfortable. Another family managing a less-severe food allergy might report that the restaurant met their needs, but their needs may not be the same as yours.
Bear in mind, the restaurants on this list are restaurant chains. The chains on this list hold the highest ratings on the AllergyEats website and smartphone app, per feedback from the food allergy community. AllergyEats restaurant ratings are based solely on how well restaurants have accommodated food-allergic diners, and not on other factors, such as ambiance, service or food quality. And each chain's score is an average of scores for all locations in the chain.
Allergy Eats broke down the highest-rated restaurants, and grouped them into two categories; large chains and small chains. The large chains have 50 or more locations, while the small chains have less than 50. Check out the honorees below, and check AllergyEats for updates!
Most allergy-friendly large chains:
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
- P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.39 rating)
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.39 rating)
- Outback Steakhouse (4.32 rating)
- Mellow Mushroom (4.29 rating)
Most allergy-friendly small chains:
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.74 rating)
- Burtons Grill (4.69 rating)
- Legal Sea Foods (4.64 rating)
- Joe’s American Bar & Grill (4.63 rating)
- Not Your Average Joe’s (4.63 rating)
AllergyEats says that “While no restaurant chain receives universally great reviews from every diner, AllergyEats incorporates all positive and negative ratings to determine which restaurants are deemed most allergy-friendly by the food allergy community as a whole. The establishments on our list have proven themselves to have best-in-class food allergy procedures & protocols, training and knowledge, receiving high overall ratings and positive feedback from food-allergic diners that have comfortably eaten at their restaurants.”
We think that's at least a great start when you're looking for a restaurant that might be able to accommodate your needs. As always, consider giving the restaurant a phone call first to ask them how they can meet your specific requests.
The next time your family wants to dine out and enjoy a nice meal, be sure to keep these restaurants in mind. And consider leaving your reviews of restaurants that you visit on AllergyEats to help other families managing food allergies and related conditions. You can read more about the restaurants that made the list here http://bit.ly/1N7Isdp!
What restaurant chain has given you great service that you think should be on next year's list?
-Nutrition Services team
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