If you have have serious food allergies, then finding a place where you and your friends can all eat together can be a trick. Some restaurants don’t like to cater to food allergies, while others are very accommodating and will modify the dish as they cook it or offer allergen-free alternatives. The problem is, you may not know which is which until you sit down and start ordering. Here are some tips on dining out with everyone without aggravating your allergies.
Look Up the Restaurants in Advance
Most restaurants provide a copy of their menu online, so it’s pretty easy to see which ones have a good selection of entrees for people with allergies. Some may even have entire sections of their menu marked as free of allergy triggers, most commonly gluten. You can also use websites or apps like AllergyEats to find reviews of how restaurants respond to diners with special food needs.
In general, buffets are not a great option for people with food allergies. Even if the food you’re choosing isn’t made with something that triggers your allergies, cross-contamination from other foods or misplaced utensils is incredibly common. If the group really wants to go to a restaurant with a buffet, make sure the buffet is optional so you can order something separate. That way you know it’s safe for you to eat.
Go to Several Different Places
While this method doesn’t work so well if you all want to sit together in a restaurant, you can always go to a couple different places so you can get something you know you can eat and everyone else can enjoy their favorite food. If you don’t want to do all the extra driving, find a restaurant that delivers or use a food delivery website to pick up food from whatever location you need. Now everybody can eat together while catching up on the latest episodes of the group’s favorite shows.
Ask Questions of Your Servers
If the restaurant is new to you and you need to know what you can eat, ask questions of your servers. Avoid yes or no questions that they can just guess the answers to. Instead, focus on open-ended questions like, “What kind of oil is used in the fryers?” You can also ask to see an ingredient list for any given entree, so that you know exactly what you’re getting when you order. Let your server know you have an allergy, so they can avoid any cross-contamination or mix-ups. Make sure and be polite to them, and leave a good tip if they were friendly and accommodating to your particular allergy.
Food allergies are common enough these days that many restaurants are learning to deal with them, but it’s still important for you to be prepared. Your food allergies don’t have to mean the end of joining your friends for dinner! Chances are, with a little bit of research, you’ll be able to find something you can eat, and you can all have a great time.