When you have a child who suffers from food allergies, going out to dinner may seem impossible. Imagine all the questions you have to ask, items you have to keep track of, and letting go of kitchen control! Fortunately many large restaurant chains have picked up on how important it is to make sure they offer options and service to families managing food allergies. Many have standardized menus, which often include ingredient information, which can provide you and your family with some safe allergy friendly food options.
Do Your Research
A great resource for ensuring you find chain restaurants with allergy-friendly food options is the internet. Most major chain restaurants have websites where you can view their menus before you visit. This gives you a chance to identify safe options for your little ones with food allergies before you go!
Keep in mind that websites may not be updated frequently and ingredients may change, so it’s always a good idea to speak to a manager at the location where you’re interested in dining before you go. This will help you ensure that the restaurant really is food allergy friendly and cross-contamination won’t be a problem.
Always Double Check
As parents, we always want to make sure our kids are safe, so I recommend always checking to make sure the restaurant is still food allergy-friendly even if it’s a restaurant you dine at frequently. And always be sure to tell your server about any food allergies to ensure that you have happy and healthy dining experience. Many times, they’ll be happy to send the chef out to speak with you personally about your dietary restrictions!
So Many Options, So Little Time
Some great examples of food allergy friendly chain restaurants were compiled by AllergyEats, which 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 down 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. who chose them because they specifically address food allergy concerns. Among the large restaurant chains, you can likely find reviews of locations near you including (but certainly not limited to!):
- Boston Market
- Longhorn Steakhouse
- Outback Steakhouse
- P. F. Chang’s
- Romano’s Macaroni Grill
- Ruby Tuesday
All of these restaurants include helpful information about the top 8 allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), both in their restaurants and online. But it is also important to do your research before trying out any new restaurants to ensure reliability.
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!
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.
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.All of these restaurants include helpful information about the top 8 allergens (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat), both in their restaurants and online. But it is also important to do your research before trying out any new restaurants to ensure reliability.
What are your favorite allergy-friendly restaurants to dine at?