This blog post has been a long time coming. I’ve been waiting to write this since AllergyEats began just about 3 years ago, but I wanted to be sure we had a large enough sample of restaurant ratings by the food allergy community for this list to be relevant and accurate. With total ratings now in the tens of thousands, I am comfortable that hurdle has been met. (As an FYI, AllergyEats is issuing a public press release on this subject today which can be found here: http://www.allergyeats.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/AllergyEats-Release-Best-Rated-Restaurants-FINAL-130213.pdf)
Some may question the relevance of posting a list of the most allergy-friendly restaurant chains. After all, just because a chain is considered allergy-friendly doesn’t mean each individual restaurant in the chain is equally accommodating, especially with some chains having franchised units as well as corporate ones… right?
While the point has some validity – and certainly there are outliers in every case – there is actually an incredibly high correlation in allergy-friendliness ratings among restaurants belonging to the same chain. In other words, if a chain has a high allergy-friendliness rating, generally the bulk of its individual restaurants does as well. And vice versa. (Of course, the chain ratings are actually derived from the individual restaurant ratings, so this makes sense.) There aren’t many chains with an equal distribution of ratings from 1 to 5. Why? My strong belief is that the commitment to allergy-friendliness – or lack thereof – comes from the top. If the owners, CEOs, and managers of restaurants and chains make allergy-friendliness a priority, the culture in each restaurant will likely reflect that. And again, vice versa. This is true not just with allergy-friendliness and not just with restaurants, but with companies of all sizes and in all industries.
Get to the point, you say? So be it.
Restaurant chains were grouped into three categories – Large (over 200 units), Medium (50-200 units), and Small (under 50 units). The following lists the most allergy-friendly chains through January 2013, as a result of diner feedback on the AllergyEats website and free smartphone app. Ratings are on a scale of 1 (least allergy-friendly) to 5 (most allergy-friendly).
Large (over 200 units):
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (4.47 rating)
- P.F. Chang’s China Bistro (4.45 rating)
- Chipotle Mexican Grill (4.38 rating)
- Outback Steakhouse (4.34 rating)
- Longhorn Steakhouse (4.30 rating)
Medium (50-200 units):
- Bonefish Grill (4.50 rating)
- Ninety Nine Restaurant (4.22 rating)
- Zpizza (4.22 rating)
- Uno Chicago Grill (4.22 rating)
- Bertucci’s Brick Oven Restaurant (4.13 rating)
Small (under 50 units):
- Burtons Grill (4.88 rating)
- Maggiano’s Little Italy (4.76 rating)
- Not Your Average Joe’s (4.73 rating)
- Legal Sea Foods (4.65 rating)
- Papa Razzi (4.64 rating)
The following restaurant chains (of all sizes) were recommended more often than any other, with the highest number of positive ratings and reviews:
- Red Robin Gourmet Burgers
- Outback Steakhouse
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
- Not Your Average Joe’s
Of course, we couldn’t present this information if it wasn’t for the dedicated users and raters on our AllergyEats website and free smartphone app sharing their experiences. So thank you all! People are always asking which chains are the most accommodating for diners with food allergies. Now that question can be answered with confidence.
So what do you think? Are you surprised? Did your favorite chain make the list or not? I welcome and look forward to as much feedback as possible on this post. Please share your thoughts in the Reply box below. (Note that you can’t leave comments from the blog home page – you must click on the post title first if you don’t see the Reply area.)
Great things are happening right now at AllergyEats, and you have made it all possible thanks to your participation. Each time you rate a new dining experience, AllergyEats becomes a more powerful tool for the entire food allergy and intolerance community. So if you’ve dined out recently, please take a moment to go to www.allergyeats.com or our free smartphone app and add your ratings. Each one takes just a minute, but means so much.