Take An Allergy-Friendly Bite Out of the Big Apple: NYC Restaurant Guide
Choosing the best place to dine in New York City can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a list of allergy-friendly restaurants based on AllergyEats’ user reviews near attractions in four areas: Midtown/Times Square, Midtown South, Downtown/World Trade Center and Uptown.
In Midtown/Times Square, indicated here as the area between 34th and 59th Streets, famous landmarks include Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Bryant Park, the Theater District and elegant Fifth Avenue.
Recognized worldwide by its Christmas tree and iconic ice rink, no visit to New York City is complete without a trip to Rockefeller Center (Fifth and Sixth Avenues between 48th and 51st Streets). You can stroll over from “Rock Center” to two highly-rated steakhouses, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Del Frisco’s Double Eagle (not to be confused with Del Frisco’s Grill), or take the family to American Girl. All of these restaurants are close to St. Patrick’s Cathedral (50th at Madison Avenue) and the Museum of Modern Art (6th Avenue and 53rd Street).
If you want to “be a part of it,” then put yourself in Times Square (the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue from 42nd to 47th Streets) by dining at either Blue Fin or Dos Caminos. Whether you opt for seafood or Mexican, both are in the W Hotel Times Square and run by a restaurant group that has a stellar reputation in the food allergy community, BR Guest Hospitality Group. Blue Fin and Dos Caminos are also good choices if you are seeing a show in the Theater District, as is Nizza, a restaurant that is not only allergy-friendly, but embraced gluten-free meal preparation long before it was more mainstream. Nizza, in the neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen, is also the closest allergy-friendly place to dine if you’re visiting the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum (12th Avenue and 46th Street Pier 86).
If trying new restaurants is out of your comfort zone, there’s a Chipotle Mexican Grill just 3 blocks from Bryant Park (41 West 40th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues), whose seasonal skating rink is a free alternative to the one at Rockefeller Center.
After all the sightseeing, you can reward yourself with an allergy-friendly dessert by walking up to 55th Street and First Avenue to A La Mode. We continuously read rave reviews about their ice cream, free-from nuts, eggs and sesame. While A La Mode is destination in itself, it’s also an easy walk from there to Fifth Avenue for window shopping and to see the Plaza Hotel (Fifth Avenue at Central Park South), whose luxury accommodations are featured in the Eloise children’s book series. What could be better for the allergy girl in your family than a night in Eloise’s suite, lunch at American Girl and dessert at A La Mode?
To avoid the crowds of Times Square, other top-rated choices in Midtown are Bistango at the Kimberly Hotel for Italian food or Dos Caminos‘ Third Avenue location for Mexican cuisine. One of AllergyEats’ team members chose to dine at Bistango after seeing Wicked and said that the mile-walk from the Gershwin Theater helped build up an appetite for a great allergy-friendly dinner!
Not to be forgotten, particularly if you’re visiting the city over the holidays, is Herald Square (at the intersection of Broadway, Sixth Avenue and 34th Street), the final stop on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route. Macy’s Department Store is popular for its festive window displays and massive Santaland. Some of the restaurants listed in our food allergy restaurant guide for Midtown South (coming soon!) are closer to Herald Square than those highlighted in this blog, so if you’d like to dine in this specific area, consider Blue Smoke or Bistango’s second location.
AllergyEats Midtown/Times Square NYC – 2017:
Dos Caminos, 5.0 Rating, 1567 Broadway and West 47th Street (Located in the W New York Times Square)
Chipotle Mexican Grill, 5.0 Rating, 25 West 45th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
A La Mode, 4.9 Rating, 360 East 55th Street and First Avenue
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle, 4.9 Rating, 1221 6th Avenue and 48th Street
American Girl, 4.7 Rating, 609 5th Avenue and 49th Street
Blue Fin, 4.6 Rating, 1567 Broadway and 47th Street (Located in the W New York Times Square)
Bistango, 4.5 Rating, 145 East 50th Street and Third Avenue (Located at the Kimberly Hotel)
Dos Caminos, 4.4 Rating, 825 Third Avenue and East 50th Street
Nizza, 4. 4 Rating, 9th Avenue between 44th and 45th Street
Midtown South, indicated here as the area between 14th and 34th Streets, is where you’ll find noteworthy destinations including Penn Station, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building and Herald Square.
‘Tis the season for classic films like Miracle on 34th Street, and if you’re lucky enough to visit New York City over the holidays, we imagine that a visit to the movie’s featured retailer, Macy’s in Herald Square (34th and 35th Streets at Seventh Avenue and Broadway), might be on your list of things to do. After strolling by the store’s holiday windows, visiting its Santaland, or just seeing the site of the famous Thanksgiving Day Parade, you can venture over to two different allergy-friendly restaurants within minutes: Blue Smoke for upscale BBQ or Bistango for Italian cuisine.
Both restaurants have been spotlighted before on the AllergyEats blog, based on our team’s personal experiences: Blue Smoke in NYC is Smokin’ Good with Food Allergies and Amazingly Easy Food Allergy Dining Experience in NYC. Bistango may sound familiar as its sister restaurant was recently mentioned as one of AllergyEats’ top-rated restaurants in the Times Square area. (Blue Smoke also has a second location, closer to downtown.) In case you are in need of a bite to eat before leaving the city on Amtrak, these restaurants are about a 10 to 15 minute cab ride to Pennsylvania Station (31st to 33rd Streets between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.) Sports fans take note – Madison Square Garden, home to the New York Rangers and the New York Knicks, sits atop Penn Station.
While in this vicinity, be sure to walk along 34th Street to visit the Empire State Building (Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets). To grab a treat after admiring the skyscraper, walk down Fifth Avenue or take a five minute cab ride to Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co., whose flagship store is just down the block from Union Square Park. Chloe’s fruit pops and soft serve items are free of all the Top 8 allergens (but the shop does offer some toppings that contain gluten, dairy and nuts.)
We recognize that so many food allergy articles these days focus on children with food allergies, and it’s important to point out that there’s a growing population of adults with food allergies, too! With that in mind, Del Posto is a good choice for food-allergic diners seeking upscale dining in New York City. The Relais & Chateaux recognized restaurant is known for its prix fixe menu, though a la carte options are available, and it discourages guests under the age of 6. Del Posto is just steps from the High Line if you’d like to capture some unique (dare we say, romantic?) views of the city from 30 feet above street level before or after dinner. Another fun stop in the area is Chelsea Market, largely an indoor food hall, but also a marketplace featuring locally made art, jewelry and other goods. All of this sounds like a great date, no matter what time of year, for the food-allergic adults in our community!
AllergyEats Midtown South NYC – 2017:
Del Posto, 5.0 Rating, 85 10th Avenue and West 15th Street
Blue Smoke, 4.7 Rating, 116 East 27th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues
Chloe’s Soft Serve Fruit Co., 4.7 Rating, 25 East 17th Street and Broadway
Bistango, 4.5 Rating, 415 Third Avenue and East 29th Street
Important landmarks below 14th Street include the 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty, Wall Street and SoHo.
If the prospect of seeing celebrities in fashionable SoHo is part of your plans while in New York City, there’s a highly rated Dos Caminos in the midst of the neighborhood’s many art galleries and boutiques. The purveyor of Mexican cuisine has five locations in Manhattan, two of which are highlighted in our recent blog about dining out with food allergies in the Midtown/Times Square area, and this location is equally well-regarded with its 4.6 rating on AllergyEats.
Dos Caminos is also AllergyEats’ closest allergy-friendly restaurant to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Statue of Liberty. Many tourists choose to pay their respects to those fallen on 9/11 or take a boat to see Lady Liberty up close and should take into consideration that it’s about a 15 minute cab ride or a 45 minute walk from Battery Park, where the ferry departs for both Ellis and Liberty Islands, to Dos Caminos in SoHo.
If you’re on the hunt for a sweet treat after touring lower Manhattan, two top-rated choices are The Donut Pub on the west side and Erin McKenna’s Bakery on the east side. While those with peanut and tree nut allergies can be accommodated at both shops, we hear an occasional concern that Erin McKenna’s uses gluten-free flours processed on equipment that packages hazelnut, almond flours and soy, so the choice is dependent on your comfort level. Also note that the majority of The Donut Pub’s reviews on AllergyEats are from diners with tree nut and peanut allergies, who have rewarded it with a near-perfect rating of 4.9. Fun Fact: The pub is open 24/7, so you can easily work it into your schedule, day or night! If you need to burn off some sugar after all those donuts, it’s just a 10 minute walk to one of the entrances to the High Line (Gansevoort and Washington Streets), a 1.45 mile scenic trail that runs along the west side of Manhattan.
Rest assured, diners who are allergic to egg, dairy, soy and wheat can indulge at Erin McKenna’s entirely gluten-free and vegan bakery, which has a superb rating of 5.0 on AllergyEats! The bakery (originally called Babycakes NYC) also has locations in Los Angeles and at Disney Springs Resort in Orlando and its shops are popular destinations for those in the food allergy community. After your visit to Erin McKenna’s Lower East Side location, another worthwhile destination is the Tenement Museum (103 Orchard Street), where visitors can book a tour to interact with guides who recreate immigrant life in the 19th and 20th centuries.
If you’re looking to eat lunch or dinner nearby, The Meatball Shop, one of seven in the city, is just a five minute walk from the museum. The restaurant’s menu is flexible, inviting guests to create their own meals by selecting a type of meatball, sauce and side dish, so food-allergic diners should feel comfortable that the restaurant is accustomed to making dishes based on the guest’s preferences. Of note, pesto is on the menu, the Chicken Balls are gluten-free & pork-free, and the Veggie Balls are vegan.
Alternatively, those who’d rather grab a bite to eat on their way back uptown can stop in the West Village at Otto Enoteca Pizzeria. Otto is owned by a restaurant group whose proprietors include celebrity chef Mario Batali and restaurateur Joe Bastianich, and despite its name, the menu extends beyond pizza, making a good choice for diners with a variety of allergies. Looking for one last photo op? The restaurant is just a two minute walk from one of the city’s most recognized landmarks, Washington Square Arch, located in the park on Fifth Avenue between MacDougal Street and University Place.
AllergyEats Downtown NYC – 2017:
- Erin McKenna’s Bakery, 5.0 Rating, 248 Broome Street and Orchard Street (Lower East Side)
- The Donut Pub, 4.9 Rating, 203 West 14th Street and 7th Avenue (Chelsea)
- The Meatball Shop. 4.7 Rating, 84 Stanton Street and Allen Street (Lower East Side)
- Dos Caminos, 4.6 Rating, 475 West Broadway and West Houston Street (SoHo)
- Otto Enoteca Pizzeria, 4.3 Rating, 1 Fifth Avenue and 8th Street (West Village)
Above 59th Street is where you’ll find popular attractions like Central Park, the American Museum of Natural History, and the “Museum Mile”.
Away from the hustle and bustle of midtown, visitors to Manhattan can get a glimpse of city living in the largely residential areas of the Upper East Side and Upper West Side. These neighborhoods border Central Park, home to multiple playgrounds and recreation areas, among other things. If you’re visiting during the winter, it’s just a short walk to take to the ice at picturesque Wollman Arena after entering the park on 59th Street at 5th Avenue. If you travel just a bit further, you’ll reach popular Central Park Zoo, open year-round.
Looking for a bite to eat after leaving the park? Lilli and Loo, a Pan-Asian style restaurant, is a short cab ride or 10 to 15 minute walk from the zoo’s entrance at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue. Of note, it’s casual enough for families and best known for gluten-free options, but has been reviewed favorably on AllergyEats for its ability to accommodate other allergies. If you’re craving a sweet after your meal, Lilli and Loo is also just two blocks from the flagship location of Dylan’s Candy Bar (Third Avenue at East 60th Street), a coveted stop for kids (and kids at heart!)
If your travels take you further uptown on the East Side or you’d prefer a more upscale menu, TBar Steak & Lounge has also received a high rating from AllergyEats’ users who’ve dined in this area. The steakhouse is relatively close (under a mile) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street), the first of many art institutions that stretch along a portion of Fifth Avenue known as the “Museum Mile”.
On the other side of Central Park, you’ll find the American Museum of Natural History at Central Park West and 79th Street. If you’re looking for a bite to eat before or after your time exploring the museum’s many exhibit halls, Rosa Mexicano, one of four in the city, is an allergy-friendly option located about a mile away. The Mexican eatery, which has opened locations in other cities since it originated in Manhattan years ago, is a leisurely walk or quick cab ride straight down the street from the museum. It’s also a convenient choice for food-allergic diners who are seeing a show just steps away at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
AllergyEats Uptown NYC – 2017:
Lilli and Loo, 4.7 Rating, 792 Lexington Avenue and East 61 St
T Bar Steak & Lounge, 4.6 Rating, Third Avenue and East 73rd Street
Rosa Mexicano, 4.3 Rating, 61 Columbus Avenue and West 62nd Street
As always, comments on our blog posts are encouraged – we love (and need) to know what YOUR dining experiences have been at the restaurants mentioned here and anywhere else in New York City or across the country. Please take the time to rate your restaurant meals, as all of us benefit from hearing every individual experience.