The first step in dining with a food allergy is one of the toughest - finding the place! If you're like me, you have a few very familiar places that you visit over...and over again. But what if you want to expand your circle of allergy restaurants and try something new? How do you get some information as a starting point on making an important decision on an allergy friendly restaurant?
We've compiled a list of strategies to help you find allergy aware restaurants. We'd love to hear your suggestions too in the comments below.
Go to the Source: On their website
Look for their "allergen and dietary" link somewhere on their website. This often leads to a food allergy menu that either has a matrix showing common allergens for each dish, or full ingredients for all menu items.
Food Allergy Apps
There are now quite a few apps out there that can assist you in finding a place that can handle your food allergies. Just remember that most of these are based on first hand accounts and reviews. This can be very helpful in getting a better picture, but there are some gaps to consider. First, people reviewing do not have the exact allergen(s) as you. The other point is that staff turnover alone can leave a huge impact on how well an allergy protocol is followed. Long and short - if a restaurant was deemed "allergy friendly" once, do your own diligence to ensure it still is, and don't simply take someone's word for it.
Spokin is an app that has a thriving community of people and companies that have some great standards in place. It's easy to use, friendly environment, and helpful! www.spokin.com
An online directory (+app) that helps you find thousands of restaurant reviews from the food allergy community. www.allergyeats.com
Find Me Gluten free
For our celiac friends, this app is very comprehensive and has an extensive databases of places that are friendly for those with celiac or a gluten free diet. www.findmeglutenfree.com
Trip Advisor Search
This can be very helpful when travelling. Simply go to TripAvisor.com, search up a city or country, and look at restaurant reviews. You can then search within the reviews to find more allergen info. If you search "food allergy", you will then see all of the reviews that mentioned this. It can be very insightful for hearing accounts of both the good, and bad.
Lastly, as there is currently no gold standard for "allergy friendly" in the food service industry (we're working on it :) , always do your own diligence for your own allergens.
Do you have other ways how you find allergy friendly restaurants? Please comment and share!