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The AllergyEats 2014 List of Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains

AllergyEats Releases 2014 List of Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains

Updated List Spotlights Restaurants That Excel at Accommodating Food-Allergic Diners

 BOSTON, MA (March 4, 2004) -  AllergyEats, the leading guide to allergy-friendly restaurants, has just released its 2014 list of Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains nationwide.  The chains on this list hold the highest ratings on 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, as opposed to other review sites that measure restaurants’ ambiance, service or food quality.

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“We’re pleased to announce the 2014 list of the Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains in the country.  These restaurants have demonstrated a superior willingness and ability to accommodate guests with food allergies.  We applaud their exemplary efforts around food allergy protocols, training and education and congratulate them for earning a place on this prestigious list,” said Paul Antico, Founder and CEO of AllergyEats, father of three food-allergic children and passionate food allergy advocate.

 

“Some exceptional restaurant chains who were leaders on the 2013 list are once again recognized this year, including Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (large chain), Bonefish Grill (medium chain) and Burtons Grill (small chain).  We congratulate two restaurant chains that are new to our list this year – Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Mellow Mushroom,” Antico continued.  “Statistics have shown that maintaining a more allergy-friendly restaurant leads to increased traffic, customer loyalty and, ultimately, profits.”

The Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains were grouped into three categories – Large (over 200 units), Medium (50-200 units), and Small (under 50 units).  Results were based on diner feedback from the AllergyEats website and app through December 31, 2013:

 

Large (over 200 units):

  • Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.45 rating)
  • P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.43 rating)
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.41 rating)
  • Outback Steakhouse (4.35 rating)
  • Romano’s Macaroni Grill (4.20 rating)

 

Medium (50-200 units):

  • Bonefish Grill (4.43 rating)
  • Ninety Nine Restaurants (4.28 rating)
  • Mellow Mushroom (4.26 rating)
  • Uno Chicago Grill (4.24 rating)
  • Bertucci’s Brick Oven Restaurant (4.17 rating)

 

Small (under 50 units):

  • Burtons Grill (4.90 rating)
  • Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.73 rating)
  • Papa Razzi (4.68 rating)
  • Legal Sea Foods (4.67 rating)
  • Not Your Average Joe’s (4.66 rating)

 

“Based on praise from the food allergy community, endorsements from food allergy organizations and the numerous awards it has won over the years, AllergyEats is clearly meeting a need in the food allergy community,” Antico remarked.  “The Most Allergy-Friendly Restaurant Chains list – and the growing number of AllergyEats ratings of all restaurants – help the entire food allergy community make more informed decisions about which restaurants to visit and which to avoid, based on how well (or poorly) they’ve accommodated others’ food allergies.”

AllergyEats (www.allergyeats.com) is a free, peer-based website and app where people find and rate restaurants based solely on their ability to accommodate food allergies, The site, app and related social media forums help families with food allergies reduce the guesswork – and the anxiety – surrounding dining out with food allergies.

AllergyEats lists more than 650,000 restaurants nationwide, which people can rate, and it also offers web links, menus and more.  Restaurants are easily searchable by geographic location, so people can find allergy-friendly restaurants around town and around the country.  For more information, please visit www.allergyeats.com.

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Hi sumo60 - frequency of testing is something that is very individualized.  I will say that a lot docs used to test fairly regularly - like at the annual check up appointment.  However, studies have shown that testing along is not enough to diagnose an allergy.  It's just 1 part of the equation.  Also, a good portion of eczema is not caused by foods.

 

Here is a post about testing and the role it plays in diagnosis.  Here is an article on the newest theories on eczema/food allergy link.  I'm going to suggest that you post on the community forums to ask whatever questions you have about testing and food allergy management.

When it is time to retest her allergies, her parents pick 6-8 possible allergens to test at that time.  They are testing through blood tests once or twice a year.  What gets tested depends on what she has been eating and what symptoms she has been having.  So, when something has not been tested at one particular time, they continue to assume an active allergy based on prior testing and continue to avoid that food.  Some foods are tested more frequently than others (e.g., dairy is tested most every time due to her level consistently indicating possible anaphylaxis to dairy).  And, the doctor has encouraged them to test/challenge some things.  

Her allergies do seem to change from time to time.  For example, her wheat, pea, and bean allergies tested barely there the last time but the corn, tomatoes, and oat allergies were new this time.  We had noticed an increase in allergy symptoms (primarily eczema but also congestion) for a few weeks prior to the last tests, so dad asked for the these things to be tested as they had been common in her diet.  Once they were eliminated she cleared right up. She is such a strong, bright, and compassionate little girl.  She never complains and is always appreciative of anything we find or make for her that she can have.

Originally Posted by czschack:

I have never even considered a Mexican or Italian restaurant because of all the cheese, but maybe I'll give chipolte a try.  Thanks for the good info.

 

You are welcome. And remember, if you don't like the way they are handling something just tell them. I'm sure they will be happy to fix it. Even if they are grumpy about it, oh well.   (That goes for all restaurants, not just Chipotle.) Our job is to keep our kiddos safe. If you go, let us know how it goes. 

Originally Posted by MACEMama:

Mexican restaurants where I live often have language barrier issues, so I never trusted them with FA, though I enjoyed the food when I would go out without DS.  We also did Chipotle the same way Mahbahlih describes.

The only Spanish I know is how to explain DS's food allergies. I have perfected that. Now if you need a bathroom you're on your own, lol.

I was very skeptical of Mexican and Italian restaurants in the beginning. The idea that there was so much cheese in the kitchen made me very nervous. However, I was surprised to learn that many Mexican restaurants don't use much in the way of milk or butter... just lots of cheese.   For DS we are almost always able to get him white rice and beans (black or refried - hold the cheese). Occasionally we get him meat, too, but honestly he loves rice and beans so much he prefers them over the meat.

 

One thing we learned is that he can't have the chips and salsa at most locations because the chips are made in a shared fryer. Our work-around has been to ask for flour or corn tortillas for him to dip in the salsa. He *LOVES* the tortillas - tearing them and dipping them in the salsa like mom and dad. I've never been to a location who couldn't serve him safe corn or flour tortillas (he's milk and egg free). 

 

As far as Italian joints, we rarely do them. There is a local Italian restaurant that let's us bring DS's food when we eat there. They are so nice. We make sure to clean his seat/table especially good since I'm sure there is dairy residue everywhere. I always tip them an extra couple bucks when we visit. 

 

We are on the road often so dining out has become second nature to us. We've been managing our son's life-threatening food allergies for about 2.5 years. Since then I bet we've eaten over half of our meals at restaurants. To put a number on it, that's probably 750 meals at restaurants since summer of 2011. I'm proud to report he's never had an anaphylaxis caused by restaurant food. 

Mexican and Italian restaurants skeeved me out too, until we discovered that one of our local Italian restaurants had safe bread for DS (flour, yeast, olive oil, sugar, and water).  It was the first restaurant that puts bread on the table that was safe for him.  He's also very happy with a plate of pasta with olive oil and herbs, and he has been spoiled rotten there.

 

Mexican restaurants where I live often have language barrier issues, so I never trusted them with FA, though I enjoyed the food when I would go out without DS.  We also did Chipotle the same way Mahbahlih describes.

Originally Posted by Mahbahlih:

Hi kally,

My son has a very severe milk allergy and we eat at Chipotle 1-2 times per week. I can totally understand your apprehension. Here are some tips:

One person handles your food. They will change their gloves first - sometimes you have to remind them but it's coorporate policy AFAIK. I always ask them to hold my son's tray - do not slide it on the counter. We only get rice, beans, and meat from the bar. Any salsa, lettuce or guac comes from the fridge under the bar or the back. (Because as you pointed out there are often some cheese shreds in those items due to the close proximity on the bar.) After his plate is done they put it on its own tray, so it doesn't touch my plate and get contaminated.

We have probably dined at Chipotle 200 times with no reaction, not even contact hives. Hope that helps.

 

KMP - edited to fix a typo that effected meaning.

I have never even considered a Mexican or Italian restaurant because of all the cheese, but maybe I'll give chipolte a try.  Thanks for the good info.

 

We have found our local Applebee' s to be very supportive of our granddaughter's allergies (top 8 plus tomatoes, beans, peas, corn, beef).  They cook her a chicken breast in a clean pan w/o oils, steam her fresh veggies from unused previously unopened packages of each veggie, lettuce w/o dressing (sometimes she has her chicken in the salad and we bring some dressing she can have), etc.  And, they come check on her frequently to make sure there are no problems.  They do it all with a friendly caring smile!  This is the ONLY place in our town so far where we feel our granddaughter can eat a meal safely.  She has not had any bad reactions when she has had the apples w/o the caramel at McDonalds and 'special order' bacon at Sonic (but that was prior to developing the corn allergy and some bacons have corn syrup, so would have to check that now).  For us, it's Applebees!!!  They put a big smile on her 7-year-old face!!!

Hi kally,

My son has a very severe milk allergy and we eat at Chipotle 1-2 times per week. I can totally understand your apprehension. Here are some tips:

One person handles your food. They will change their gloves first - sometimes you have to remind them but it's coorporate policy AFAIK. I always ask them to hold my son's tray - do not slide it on the counter. We only get rice, beans, and meat from the bar. Any salsa, lettuce or guac comes from the fridge under the bar or the back. (Because as you pointed out there are often some cheese shreds in those items due to the close proximity on the bar.) After his plate is done they put it on its own tray, so it doesn't touch my plate and get contaminated.

We have probably dined at Chipotle 200 times with no reaction, not even contact hives. Hope that helps.

 

KMP - edited to fix a typo that effected meaning.

Last edited by Kathy P

Although I feel Chipotle does make an honest effort by attempting to use allergy-friendly products, the risk of cross-contamination can be quite real if you/your child has an allergy to Milk (or, any of the other products they serve).  The nature of their food prep is similar to a buffet where not only are food items kept in close contact to each other, but all of the staff handle the serving utensils at one point or another, put hands into the cheese and the then the lettuce, and so on.  My son is Milk allergic (as well as others) and unfortunately their system does not come close to meeting my standard of comfort level.  

 

Originally Posted by czschack:

I can't believe Burger King is not on the list!  My daughter (who turns 15 this summer) and is anaphylactic to milk has been eating there for 13 years, and have never had so much a a rash!  FYI-she's had dozens of severe allergic reactions requiring epinephrine throughout her life.

Funny you mention BK, my daughter is allergic to soy, peanuts (including tree nuts), eggs, and possibly sesame. The only thing she can have at BK is a salad with grilled chicken.

Originally Posted by N Myeza:

My daughter has severe allergic reaction to soy/soya bean. She ate gluten free pretzels containing soy lecithin and she didn't react although she still reacts to soy/soya containing products. I guess it has to do with conten/amount.......

I am sure amount is the reason for that. I have the same problem with my child. What I do is completely stay away from anything containing or traced with soy and soy lecitihin, even comsetics! Yes, I found that my vegan shampoo and conditioner contains soy lecithin.

 

Unfortunately, when you try to stay away from an allergen you find that that item contains another allegen.

 

Good luck

 

All of these are based on user feedback.  If you've had a bad experience, then go share that.  If you've had a good experience somewhere, go share that.

 

As for Chipotle, I know they are rolling out the change over.  Our local restaurants have signs up about the rice oil change.  I'm not sure the start of their printed material.  I suggest calling or stopping in to ask about where that particular restaurant is in the changeover.

 

PF Changs is very allergy aware.  While it may not seem allergy friendly from a cuisine standpoint (i.e. I avoid Chinese food bc of gluten since there is wheat in almost every soy sauce), they do make a huge effort when it comes to allergies.  They have a separate gf menu (not helpful for seseame of course ) and their allergy free meals have separate plates.  I'm not sure how they do for sesame, but certainly worth a call.  I get my own set of gf table sauces!  And they even re-made my dd's dish bc she didn't realize there would be bean sprouts on there (to which she is allergic), so didn't think to order it without.  It may vary by location though as I recall reading about someone who had a bad experience recently.

Originally Posted by MACEMama:

I think the basis of this list is that it is based on user feedback.  They are based on user-feedback.  If you have a negative experience and share it, then that impacts their total score.  If you have a positive experience and share it, then that also impacts the total score.

 

So, the more people who use AllergyEats and rate them, the more reflective the list will be.

Oh, I understand now. Thanks. =]

Hi Kathy P,

 

This incident was actually pretty recent, two weeks ago. I am thrilled to hear that they are working on making there food enjoyable for everyone.

 

I will definitely check out those forums.

 

Thanks.

I can't believe Burger King is not on the list!  My daughter (who turns 15 this summer) and is anaphylactic to milk has been eating there for 13 years, and have never had so much a a rash!  FYI-she's had dozens of severe allergic reactions requiring epinephrine throughout her life.

My daughter has severe allergic reaction to soy/soya bean. She ate gluten free pretzels containing soy lecithin and she didn't react although she still reacts to soy/soya containing products. I guess it has to do with conten/amount.......

I think the basis of this list is that it is based on user feedback.  They are based on user-feedback.  If you have a negative experience and share it, then that impacts their total score.  If you have a positive experience and share it, then that also impacts the total score.

 

So, the more people who use AllergyEats and rate them, the more reflective the list will be.

Hi Yvonne - sorry you had a bad experience at Chipotle.  Have you checked them lately??  They're in the process of phasing out the soy in the offerings in favor of rice bran oil.  http://community.kidswithfooda...hipotle-menu-changes

 

Also, we have a number of members who are vegan and dealing w/ other food allergies as well - I encourage you to post on the forums asking whatever questions you have. 

 

 

Last edited by Kathy P