Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Four Tips on dining out at restaurants if you have allergies

Are you tired of your allergies getting in the way? We know what it’s like. We talk to patients every day who struggle with food allergies and share that they are afraid to go to restaurants.

We all remember the infamous scene in Mrs. Doubtfire where Robin Williams adds pepper to Pierce Brosnan’s shrimp dish knowing that he’s allergic to pepper! Not cool!

Source: Buzzfeed

Our goal is to provide you with a few simple questions and things to consider when dining out to make sure that it’s a safe and pleasurable experience. At Hudson Allergy, we believe that educating our patients is one of the many keys to success.  Let’s dive in:

Know your restaurant
  1. High-end restaurants, particularly in NYC, are usually very aware and helpful for those with food allergies.
  2. Most chain restaurants have food allergy protocols in place, but it never hurts to ask or go to their corporate website. This week, Quizno’s launched their interactive allergy menu to help customers who have food allergies through the order process. How great is that?
  3. Check and see what their users say about how allergy friendly a particular restaurant is that you are considering going to. AllergyEats has an active community who share and rate restaurants. Something to note though is that AllergyEats is a community that mean to guide people and not a guarantee.
Communicate with everyone, but start at the top
  1. Its best to speak directly with either the manager (or maître d) or the chef about your food allergies. Managers, maître d’s and chefs have the most power and are most likely to help out. 
  2.  Speak with your waiter, and have him or her “repeat back” your allergies or food requests.
  3. Don’t forget to tell the bartender! NYC id famous for it’s fancy cocktails with all sorts of components! Be sure to let them know about any potential allergies as well.
Make sure what arrives at your table is YOUR dish

  1. If your dish is served by someone else (bus boy, another waiter) ensure that it is YOUR dish.
  2.   Give it a once over and make sure it’s what you ordered, and how you ordered it.
Beware hidden allergens

  1. Seafood and shellfish allergies: Anchovies hide in Caesar salads and in some pasta dishes. Sambals can contain fish or dried shrimp.
  2. Nuts: Can be used at thickeners in chili and can also be found in some barbeque sauces. Nuts allergens commonly cross contaminate in ice cream shops and at some Asian food restaurants. 
  3.  Milk: Found in desserts, and in some steak restaurants, butter is used at the last minute on steaks.
  4. Egg: Egg washes on some breads and some desserts

As doctors specializing in allergies, it’s our job to help our patients find a balance between food and allergies, so that you don’t have to compromise doing the things you like to do, like dining out! For more information about food allergies, feel free to contact us at or give us a call at 212-729-1283.