by Marlene Berlin
My daughter has peanut, nut, dairy, and gluten allergies. This makes dining out a challenge, but she has a much easier time in Philadelphia than in our city. This is how she describes a recent experience at Distrito, a Mexican restaurant near University City in Philadelphia:
“First the waiter brought out roasted peanuts. Before placing them on the table he asked if anyone had a nut allergy. When I said yes, they quickly whisked them away.
“When he brought the chips, I mentioned that I had read the restaurant had a lot of gluten-free options and was wondering if the chips were gluten-free. He immediately reassured me that 86% of the menu is gluten-free, and all of the gluten-free items, including the chips, are made on separate stoves in separate parts of the kitchen from the non-gluten free food. He then took the menu and pointed out every dish that I would want to avoid (it was only about 4 items) and reassured me that when I ordered, he’d make sure to let me know if I ordered something with gluten.
“He then asked us if we would like some guacamole. When we said yes, he indicated that the guacamole had cheese sprinkled on it and inquired whether anyone had a milk allergy. When I said yes, he said it could easily be put on the side.
“When we finally ordered the main course, he told us which entrees had gluten, milk, and which items could be adjusted or altered to be milk-free. He also indicated which ones would taste bad if we eliminated the milk and which ones would still be tasty. He knew which foods, not only had milk, but also had some sort of milk or dairy broth associated with them. He also knew all of the ingredients in the meatballs.
“The food was amazing!”
The Washingtonian mentions some restaurants that offer tasty gluten-free options. There are 12 options listed in DC with two close by – Lebanese Taverna in Woodley Park and Dino, which has since closed its location Cleveland Park.
I then went to AllergyEats.com, which is a peer-reviewed national restaurant site. It lists ten food allergy categories that you can check off if they apply, and then search your area for nearby restaurants. I checked peanuts, tree nuts, gluten and dairy to see what restaurants popped up within a two-mile radius of zip code 20008. Six restaurants appeared, with four only catering to those with peanut and tree nut allergies: Two Amy’s, Café Deluxe, Arucola, and Clyde’s at Chevy Chase. Maggiano’s of Little Italy could deal with dairy and gluten allergies, and Chef Geoff’s came out on top, being able to accommodate those with nut, dairy and gluten allergies.
Of course, not all eateries can cater to those with food allergies. Mark Furstenberg recently wrote about why Bread Furst won’t. But those that can quickly find a place in the hearts of their gluten/dairy/soy/nut/etc.-intolerant customers.
If you can recommend a restaurant that caters to those with food allergies and has a knowledgeable wait staff, please share!