This week, it was one of my friend’s birthday. She wanted to go out for dinner, but with my allergy, choosing a safe place to go is priority #1, but it also has to a be a place that everyone will enjoy. So what do you do in this situation?
I have 4 easy steps help that help me make informed decisions about where to eat when going out.
It’s important to note, my number one concern is if there’s peanuts on the menu. Once I address that, I look at other tree nuts. I have a list of my top 5 nut allergens, but depending on the item, I’m comfortable going to a restaurant and having others order something containing them.
Do research! Get as much information as you can before hand. Visit the restaurant’s website, call the restaurant for more information, or ask for opinions from your friends and family. The more information you can get before hand, the more comfortable you’ll feel with your decision and ordering once you get there.
Do a quick tally
Once you find out what’s on the menu, do a quick tally of how many items on the menu have nuts or peanuts in them. Most restaurants have at least 5 items on their menu that you won’t be able to get. 5 items out of a menu of 30 like at Boston Pizza? Not so bad. 5 items out of a curated menu from a local restaurant? It’s probably safer to pass.
People don’t like being told what they can and can’t order. Sure, most people will say they don’t mind if you ask them not to order the peanut tacos… but there’s a good chance there will be an under lying annoyance. In my situation, it was my friend’s birthday and I wanted her to be able to order what ever she wanted, without having to worry about me.
Ask if the chef can make substitutions
In more cases than not, restaurants are willing to leave out the nuts in a menu item. When you tell your server you have an allergy (which, you always should) I have rarely been told no. That being said, there are some cases where the nuts are already pre-made into the recipes and they can’t make it happen. That’s ok! Just choose a different item, and ask your guests to do the same.
Have a go-to list
I have a list of at least 5 restaurants that I know are safe for me to eat at, which have a variety of options that I love. It’s important to have this list ready, in case you’re asked to choose the location last-minute.
My list consists of a popular food chain with lots of options and variety, a local restaurant that again, has lots of options and variety, a ‘fast food’ place… cause everyone needs their fix, and two places with a curated menu or specific cuisine. For me, this is Mexican food and a pizza place.