Allergy-Friendly Fast Food: These Are the Best Places to Eat If You Have Food Allergies
Eating out with a common food allergy isn’t always as easy as you think it should be. Many restaurant servers and managers believe people with food allergies can tolerate small amounts of allergens when they cannot — and that can turn a would-have-been fun night into quite a miserable one.
There are many restaurants, however, whose staff are trained and willing to help their guests dine safetly at their establishments. AllergyEats’ listings offer ratings and reviews of many chains throughout the United States — some good; some not so great.
Here are some of the best restaurant chains to choose from if you or someone in your family has one or more food allergies.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
- AllergyEats rating: 4.3 out of 5
Before you head to a Chipotle near you, take a few minutes to view their allergens and special diet menu. This page lists each of the restaurant’s menu items and lets customers know whether or not they contain milk, soy, wheat, gluten, or sulphites (a preservative some people are sensitive to). This menu also makes it easy to pick out vegan and vegetarian options.
- Gluten-free: corn tortillas, rice, beans, vegetables, meat
- Milk: tortillas, meat — basically everything but queso, cheese, and sour cream
- Soy: Everything but the sofritas (shredded soy-based tofu)
Perhaps most appealing is that Chipotle allows you to build your own meals. They’re very clear about what they don’t use as ingredients in their food — no eggs, peanuts, fish, etc. — and customer reviews have praised the staff’s gentle handling of special orders.
Maggiano’s Little Italy
- AllergyEats rating: 4.7 out of 5
Similar to Chipotle and other restaurants on this list, Maggiano’s offers a downloadable menu specifying which items contain certain food allergens. It also specifies vegetarian and vegan options.
- Gluten-free: Some salads, steaks, vegetables, and some sides
- Peanuts: Most menu items are peanut-free
- Soy: Some salads and fish
- Eggs, milk, and seafood
As long as you mention the food allergy in question to your server or manager once you sit down at the restaurant, it’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll be taken care of.
- AllergyEats rating: 4.4 out of 5
P.F. Chang’s offers an online “allergen matrix” that allows you to cross-reference any item on the menu with the allergy or allergies you’re trying to avoid. You’re strictly limited to mostly rice and soup if you’re allergic to soy, but other than that, the range of options is friendly to most interested in dining there.
- Gluten-free: lettuce wraps, some soups, rice and noodles
- Milk and eggs: Chicken and fish, rice
- Soy and wheat
- Peanuts, corn, and tree nuts
- AllergyEats rating: 4.2 out of 5
Red Robin offers an online interactive menu that allows prospective guests to search menu options by food allergy. For example, checking the “vegan” filter only allows you to select applicable menu options. Categories that don’t apply appear greyed out. You can select multiple filters at once.
- Gluten-free: Salads, burgers (with bun modifications), sandwiches, appetizers
- Vegan: Appetizers, veggie burgers, salads, and friendly side dishes
- Milk, eggs, and dairy
- Peanuts and tree nuts
- AllergyEats rating: 4.2 out of 5
Outback Steakhouse has a separate menu specifically designed for individuals with Celiac disease who cannot safely consume gluten. This menu also lists nutritional and ingredient info to help customers steer clear of other potential allergens.
- Gluten-free: Salads and dressings, steaks, chicken, seafood, and sides
- Peanut and tree nut allergies
- Egg and dairy/casein-free
AllergyEats users and other customers have noted that Outback’s managers and waitstaff (depending on the location) are often accommodating and make sure all who dine in their restaurants do so safely and comfortably.