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, 2014) –  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.

“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.

 

 

Comments

    Author:
    Ken Burgin
    Written:


    Links would be useful…

    Author:
    Aunna
    Written:


    This is so helpful! Thank you for this list, I’m going to look into each of these restaurants!

    Author:
    Terry Pelletier
    Written:


    Other restaurants who have a gluten free menu: Olive Garden, Applebee’s, Red Lobster, Ruby Tuesday, and most restaurants will adjust a meal to gluten free.

    Author:
    Blase Gallo
    Written:


    I know that Chipotle has signs asking about allergies, but quite frankly, I have had to leave the premesis in a hurry on several occasions when they are sauteing in the open kitchen with chiles. Breathing the chile oil in the air has caused my throat to swell. I love the food only without any added salsas. I hardly find it “allergy-friendly” though. Glassing off the kitchen could go a long way to prevent putting the oils into the FOH.

    Author:
    Marla
    Written:


    This is very encouraging! Thank you! It is important to remember that restaurants can be allergy friendly even if you are unable eat there. Part of being allergy aware is the ability for them to tell you that they can not, in fact, accommodate your needs. My son is allergic to dairy and sesame. I will not take him to a pizzeria or Asian restaurant. That’s just common sense. So having an allergy to chiles and eating in a high quantity chile restaurant and complaining that they can’t meet your needs is counter-productive.

    Author:
    Meaghan
    Written:


    I would really like to know exactly how these restaurants were selected. I have a severe fish allergy, and some places think about the seafood allergies (and by some, I mean not many) and separate shellfish from everything else, but I have seldom found places that separate fryers based on fish and potatoes/other fried goods. My mom has a serious shellfish allergy, and with our allergies combined, there aren’t many places we can eat even french fries at.

      Author:
      AEPaul
      Written:


      The restaurants were selected based on the “wisdom of the crowd” – the accumulated ratings of tens of thousands of dining experiences by our food allergy community.

    Author:
    Keith Siegel
    Written:


    This list is not really helpful. Allergy Friendly means what exactly? If you have a dairy allergy, like my son, how exactly is Pizzeria Uno a good choice? I’d encourage all parents or people reading this list to fully understand and have have appropriate levels of expectation regarding a chain’s ability to serve you food that is risk-free.

    Author:
    Charles Barrett
    Written:


    Glad there are ratings. A little more information regarding types of allergies each chain works on (do they do more than gluten free) would be helpful.

    Author:
    Dawn
    Written:


    How in the world is P.F. changes on this list??? Peanut and Tree Nuts are in many of their menu items. How are these restaurants selected?

      Author:
      AEPaul
      Written:


      Good “allergy friendly” restaurants can still have an individual’s specific allergens on premises. What makes them good is knowing what they can serve the individual, how to handle the order, how to prevent cross-contamination, etc. Many individuals with peanut and even soy allergies go to P.F. Chang’s. You’ll see Legal Sea Foods on this list too. I know individuals with fish and shellfish allergies that not only patronize Legals, but have become regulars.

      The restaurants are selected based on the cumulative ratings of our entire food allergy and intolerance community. This is the “wisdom of the crowds”; not one individual’s personal choice.

      Hope that helps.

    Author:
    Sherry
    Written:


    I have food allergies since I was a kid until now and this tips are very helpful. Thanks, I’ll try visiting these restaurants next week.

    Author:
    Sharzad
    Written:


    What makes them allergy friendly is not the absence of any particular ingredient, but how knowledgable they are about the ingredients in each of their menu items, how willing and effective and honest they are in sharing that information, how well they can accommodate you when you tell them you need a meal free of certain ingredients, and how well they can actually provide you with a meal that is truly free of the ingredients you want to avoid.

    PF. Changs for example, will have your server write down every single ingredient you wish to avoid, has the server enter that list in their computer, and print you out a menu with only menu items you can have. So if you tell them no peanuts or tree nuts, they will print you a menu of items that do not have any peanuts and tree nuts. They also told me that then they make you your food in a fresh (clean) pan, which may take longer. I’d call that allergy friendly and a blessing!

    Author:
    Stacey
    Written:


    I think it’s important to check each restaurant for your specific needs. From my experience each restaurant is different. I’ve been to some restaurants of the same chain and one will say the food is safe to eat and another will tell you no it’s not. I’ve gotten sick but that was my choice to trust that restaurant rather than cook myself. It’s nice to see a list of those who tend to work with those of us with food allergies and sensitivities.

    Author:
    Darryl
    Written:


    In response to Dawn, “How in the world is P.F. changes on this list?” Our son is highly allergic to peanuts and we feel very safe eating at PF Changs. The server notes the peanut allergy on the ticket, the dishes are prepared with extra care away from peanuts in the kitchen, and they serve the food on different colored plates so you know the kitchen took the extra precautions and the server picked up the right food. In a word, they are awesome.

    Author:
    Jessica
    Written:


    It would be nice if they specified what kind of food allergies seeing as how there is more than just one type. Gluten allergies are serious and kind of suck, but it’s not the only one!

    Author:
    Karla
    Written:


    We have a daughter that is allergic to soy and have found it very difficult to take her out to eat almost anywhere! Do you have to have a list of restaurants that are soy-allergy friendly? We were pleasantly surprised when we looked at Bojangles ingredients by menu item listing. It is very easy to determine what she could eat there, at a quick glance!

    Author:
    Serena Miller
    Written:


    The only problem is, that many of these chains have workers that are not versed at ALL in what food allergies are. Seeing that Chipotle workers throw flour tortillas all over the place, I never feel comfortable eating there, and I’ve gotten sick many times from Outback. And to further insult from Outback Steakhouse, they never respond to concerns using their website form. PF Changs has been perfect so far- very caring and knowledgeable.

    Author:
    Valerie
    Written:


    I am GF, and have a list of allergies too. I do have to agree with PF Changs, Maggiano’s, Mallow Mushroom, and Chipotle. I can’t eat everything, everywhere, but these places tend to be awesome about cross contaminations, and kitchen training! I have stopped eating at Ruby Tuesday’s, Chili’s, etc- as they advertise allergen menus, but have no training, and my healtg isn’t worth THAT many 2nd chances as I have given them, and dealt with weeks of consequences!
    PF Changs- there are 2 entrees that I can eat there. But they are great! And there is dessert! And they are thorough! Peace of mind trumps a huge selection to me!!

    Author:
    sandi
    Written:


    Thanks. This list is a great starting point for those with allergies. As adults YOU need to advocate fir yourself and your children by asking about your particular allergy and how it is handled. Simply because a name is on a list ,it didn’t mean you no longer need to do your part. You should always remind your server of your allergies. Check your plate when you get it and if there are issues send it back. My main allergy us gluten and I know that even though places offer a gluten free menu, that doesn’t mean it will be 100% gluten free…unless it is a gluten free restaurant. Use common sense folks.

    Author:
    Susan
    Written:


    I can’t believe that PF Changs is on this list! My son is allergic to all nuts, soy and egg. The manager informed me that there was NOTHING on the menu that my son could eat! I have never had this problem at any other restaurant before. PF Changs should definitely not be on this list.

    Author:
    DC
    Written:


    For those who commented about the dairy allergy and pizza places…my daughter has a severe milk (and egg) allergy and we eat at pizza places all the time (including Pizzaria Uno!) As long as the dough doesn’t contain milk, they can leave off the cheese and request them to change gloves and use a clean knife to cut the pizza. Most places are more than accomodating with this. We usually call ahead to confirm the dough ingredients, but I would say that 7/10 places do not have milk in their dough. Note: The deep dish at UNOs does have dairy, but the thinner crust does not. Good luck!

    Author:
    Joanne
    Written:


    I am stunned to hear that PF Changs made your allergy friendly list. I have a severe egg allergy and twice was told by the server and then a manager that the menu item I wanted was safe. Both times I became violently ill. I later learned that ALL of their meats are marinated in an egg wash so that for an egg allergic guest there are a limited number of vegetarian dishes that are safe. Same is true for Pei Wei their sister company. This was a few years ago but their lack of knowledge and lack of caring made me a true believer to NEVER trust them again. Be very careful if you eat at either of these establishments.

    I ran a food allergy website and wrote a food allergy book and do not take these situations lightly.

    Author:
    Kate
    Written:


    These restaurants are allergy friendly based on their knowledge and practices for protecting people from cross-contamination. They will be able to tell you what you can safely eat based on your allergies. We have wonderful experiences with Red Robin, P.F. Changs, Uno, Outback and Maggiano’s with celiac’s. One place I would stay far far away from is Olive Garden. This is an example of a restaurant chain who does not properly train their employees against cross contamination or anything else about allergies…..

    Author:
    Erin
    Written:


    I have had problems with P.F. Changs in the past. Not only do we have a gluten allergy, but also egg and dairy. A good 5 years ago we were so excited to see a restaurant have a gluten-free menu! (This was before most restaurants did this.) After dinner we ordered dessert and asked about ingredients, and we were assured that the cake had no dairy or gluten in it. About 30 minutes later the severe cramping began as my allergy kicked in. Thankfully, feeling bad for a day or two was the worst of it.

    The lesson I learned through that experience is two-fold. You can’t trust the servers to know if it is allergen-free (whatever your allergen is). Check with the manager and/or chef of the restaurant. Second, ask to see a list of ingredients or a list with the allergens for each menu item listed. If you aren’t sure, don’t eat it without more research (and probably something in writing from the company stating that it is free from your allergen).

    I am so happy that more restaurants are becoming allergy-friendly–are able to make dishes that people with allergies can eat. I am trying to patronize more places that take the extra care necessary for preparing food for those with allergies. I am looking forward to the day when more restaurants have dedicated fryers for gluten-free and shellfish-free foods. (I appreciate the comment that reminded me that those with shellfish allergies can’t eat foods fried in a shared fryer.) Things have come a LONG way in the last 14 years I have lived with food allergies (dairy, gluten, and egg)!!

    Author:
    AG
    Written:


    In response to Susan – my daughter is allergic to the same things as your son plus dairy and shellfish. We have had both positive and negative experiences at PF C’s. On our first trip, the manager discussed her allergies with us and the chef modified the dish accordingly. We were very impressed with and felt safe with their preparation standards as others have described above. On our next visit to another location, the manager was totally uninformed about allergies and simply told us to order from the computer generated allergy menu, which meant…there was nothing she could eat. He told us that is their “new policy”, and the experience and his lack of understanding and flexibility was so frustrating we haven’t been back since. That approach takes all human thought and common sense out of the process – my guess was they didn’t want the legal risk of an error. I wish all restaurants followed the Disney “gold standard” – when you visit a restaurant on a Disney property with allergies, they send the chef out to discuss your allergies with you, ask you what you would like, and then personally deliver it to you so you can eat with confidence.

    Author:
    Jane
    Written:


    I don’t understand why every poll list Chipotle as an excellent choice for those with allergies. They rarely change their gloves. They DO NOT use utensils, so right there is a cross contamination nightmare. The few times I have eaten there I’ve gotten sick, most likely from cross contamination. Also, this is the rudest chain when you tell them you have allergies. I read a horrible viral post on Facebook that was What Chipotle employees think of their customers.

    Author:
    Kristen
    Written:


    Susan – PF Chang’s is wonderful (but you have to get a good manager). All of their meats are marinated in a milk and/or egg wash. If you call them in the morning, they will save aside meat without it. I am allergic to milk and eggs and have a huge issue with most places. Anyway, they will save food for you and fix it separate. They have an amazing allergy policy. They fix the food in a completely different area. When it comes out to the table, it should be on a plate that has their logo on it. If it is not (which a waiter did to me one time), send it back because they did something wrong.

    Red Robin is great too…so is Mellow Mushroom. I haven’t tried any of these others but will have to research them now. I have been told at many places that they would not serve me before because of allergies. It’s actually pretty common. That’s why I find a small list of places I can eat and become a regular at those places. I don’t usually venture out to new places and try to bring food when I travel. If I can’t find a good chain or a nice, local place when traveling, it becomes very complicated to eat.

    Author:
    Kay
    Written:


    I can’t believe PF Changs received a award for most allergy friendly! First of all, the food comes prepackaged & seasoned from a facility, with those prices I would think they are freshly prepared at the restaurant. My daughter suffers from many food allergies, the only thing a PF’s could offer to us was a salad with grilled lamb! Are you kidding me? I could not order grilled chicken, it’s pre marinated with oyster oil. It comes frozen & prepackaged!!!! The only thing friendly about PF’s, you can give your server your allergies & they print a menu with your choices. Options are not available for Egg free, Shell free & Tree Nut Free! We never went back! I get better options at other chain restaurants.

    Author:
    mandy
    Written:


    I have multiple food allergies myself. I have come to the conclusion that you do have to take the allergy friendly lists and menus with a grain of salt. If you/your child are that allergic to an item, going to a restaurant that features that item may not be a good idea. I am allergic to shellfish, therefore I will not go to Red Lobster. I am also allergic to gluten. So a pizza place/pasta place is not a place I will go. We have to take personal responsibility for our allergies and think about going out. You cannot depend on places that make their money with quick in and out service to not cross contaminate.

    Author:
    SDC
    Written:


    @AEPaul, thank you for making a great tool available to help me with a health issue that I am ultimately responsible for handling by myself. It is a frustrating life to live when you can’t snuggle the animals you want to, sit in the grass, can’t eat lobster anymore, or freshly caught trout from the stream, eat carrot cake anymore, or PBJ’s, or even go OUTSIDE some days!! But I have to tell you, when people make an effort to accommodate my allergies, I really appreciate it. Ten years ago, I ate a lot of salad. Without dressing. Thanks for your list! :)

    Author:
    Nick Z
    Written:


    I have Celiac Disease and I eat at Romano’s Macaroni Grill not to log ago and ordered something off the menu that was supposed to be gluten-free and still got sick. I will not be back.

    Author:
    Nick Z
    Written:


    I highly recommend P.F. Chang’s for people who need to eat gluten-free.

    Author:
    Linda Fedewa
    Written:


    You listed many places I’ve been with great results. Thank you for helping me and restaurants who are willing to cater to gluten free as well as the general public. It can be a lot of extra work.
    However, I can’t imagine that Chipotle made the cut, as they will wipe spoons on flour tortillas and then put the spoon back into the mixture. Not gluten free anymore. Too much contamination…

    Author:
    Denise M. Joseph
    Written:


    I have allergies too and I can’t eat at any restaurant with with smell of seafood, in fact restaurants that are on my do not go list are here – Macaroni Grill, Maggiano’s, Bonefish, Legal Seafood, Outback.

    Chipotle is ok and Uno’s microwaved the food they served me so thanks for the list and the app but I have my own.

    Author:
    John R. Conley
    Written:


    We have peanut, tree nut, and seafood allergies and have found McDonald’s and KFC to be our only choices for fast food. Chick-fil-A is headquartered here in Atlanta but our doctor didn’t recommend trying it even though the peanut oil is supposed to be devoid of the allergen protein. We’ve eaten Little Caeser’s too with no problem.

    Author:
    Jacob
    Written:


    We tried to go to Macaroni Grill last night. When we told the hostess our son had food allergies they said they have no allergy menu and can’t accomodate us. No idea how that qualifies them as allergy friendly. I also wrote the company and am waiting for a response.

    Author:
    Jacob
    Written:


    Spoke with the manager at Macaroni grill. He confirmed that per corporate direction they don’t have an allergen menu anymore. This list needs to be updated.

    Author:
    Steph
    Written:


    In my opinion, P.F.Chang’s is one of the worst when it comes to food allergies. After informing the server of a severe peanut allergy, one of our dishes, chicken chow mein, was served with peanuts in it. When we brought it to the server’s attention, he claimed that the temperature at which the peanuts were cooked changed the protein and would not cause an allergic reaction. Really – blow me off after screwing up? I haven’t been back. I find it insane a food server considers himself more of an expert on food allergies than all of the specialists I’ve interacted with in dealing with food allergies – and I myself with an advanced life sciences degree. This place could end up killing someone!!!

    Author:
    carmen
    Written:


    What about rainforest cafe? They were the best. Last month i took my egg, dairy and peanut allergic daughter and explained her allergies to the waitress. She quickly came back with the manager and printed a list of friendly foods. She also assured me my daughter’s french fries would be baked separately and her chicken would be fried in a separate clean pan as well. Never recieved such great service.

    Author:
    Grace
    Written:


    While I applaud the idea of trying to help people with food allergies and parents of kids with food allergies, the information on this website can be very misleading. Because one person gives a restaurant 5 stars for a certain allergen, that does not mean it is safe. Many of the restaurants that are listed by reviewers as safe for a nut & peanut allergy are ones that I know for certain are NOT safe. Always check with a manager or corporate office first.

    Author:
    Dina
    Written:


    I would be leery of red Robin- they used to have Sundaes with peanuts. Not Sure if they do anymore but there are young kids working back there-I am a meatless vegetarian and many times I have gotten pieces of meat mixed in with my grilled cheese! I do take my PA and TA kids to olive garden because they’re only nut is in the premade desserts. Fast food we eat at McDonald’s, KFC and Wendy’s.

    Author:
    Carol
    Written:


    I would like to recommend “True Food” – they have quite a few GF dishes and the servers are quite knowledgeable about all the ingredients in the dishes. They are popping up in quite a few cities…….they are owned by Dr. Weil and the concept is fresh, healthy and delicious food. I never get sick when I eat there.

    Author:
    Regina
    Written:


    While reading the comments to this post, I was really dismayed that a lot of people did not understand the how the restaurants are chosen and why. By popular vote (customers who had frequented these establishments), it was determined that these restaurants are the most allergy friendly. The article DID NOT read ALLERGY FREE, rather ALLERGY FRIENDLY. And yes, I agree with some of the restaurants chosen. Those restaurants do a very good job in offering options, having trained staff and managers that do their best to accommodate, and not being condescending towards the customers because of special dietary needs. I can only speak for the ones I have frequented due to them being in my area that is why I said some. But please understand, if you know you have a severe allergy to a certain food, and that restaurant specializes in that food; don’t go there. There are many places I just can’t ot choose not to go due to my allergies, auto-immune disease, and histamine intolerance, but that doesn’t make the restaurant any less allergy friendly to someone who has different needs.

    Author:
    Regina
    Written:


    Forgive all of my typos in the previous post. I guess I should have proofread 😉

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