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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

FabuLOUs Restaurants for Dining Out with Food Allergies in Louisville

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Dining out has become a way of life for many families. Busy schedules, for both parents and kids,  leave some families dining out more than dining in. However, eating out is often not an option for families that deal with food allergies. If it is an option, it can be challenging to find restaurants that understand the dining needs of those with severe food allergies. 

Both of our daughters have food allergies. Our oldest daughter has a life-threatening peanut allergy. As a result, we eat at home more than 95% of the time. When we do venture out in Louisville for a special meal, here are the restaurants we have found that ‘get it’ and are willing to work with us to keep our daughters safe.

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Our Top Pick:
Annie May’s Sweet Café- This is the gold standard for dining out with food allergies in Louisville.  They are a dedicated gluten, peanut, tree nut and soy free facility and a number of their products are also free of the top eight allergens.  They offer lunch every day and breakfast on Saturdays (good stuff like gluten free waffles and egg sandwiches).  In addition to dining in you can also purchase many items for home such as their top-selling buns, oatmeal cream pie and other great baked good and treats. 

Great for Lunch or a Casual Meal:
McAlister’s DeliThis deli in Louisville has worked well for us, particularly the Lime Kiln Lane location.  While they do have nut ingredients at the restaurant they have protocol in place to prevent cross-contact.  The counter staff talk directly to the kitchen and they switch out all cutting boards and utensils.  They also have the kitchen staff change their gloves.  Their website offers a great search feature where you can select your allergen(s) and it will show you which items are safe.  Click on the Nutrition tab to access this great tool.

Burning Bush GrilleThis locally owned Mediterranean café in Prospect is also another go to spot for our family.  The owner is very open to discussing ingredients and cooking procedures.  The counter staff always verifies with the kitchen staff when we order if any ingredients have changed since our last visit. 

Nice Dinner Out:
Mitchell’s Fish Market- When dining at Mitchell’s at The Summit we call ahead and have the allergy noted on our reservation.  Upon arrival the hostess acknowledges that we are dining with a food allergy.  The wait staff are also aware when they come to the table and talk through the best menu choices and protocol in place in the kitchen to prevent cross contact.  They also offer for the chef to come out to the table to speak directly to you about menu options and food preparation.  Another great thing, if you are avoiding gluten they offer a menu of gluten free options.

The food allergy you/your child has, as well as the severity of the allergy will determine what is safe for you when dining out.  Annie McGill, owner of Annie May’s Sweet Café and also food allergic herself says, “You have to be your own advocate”.  When dining out with food allergies you have to ask questions and feel comfortable with how the staff is reacting.  John Luker, the father of a son with a severe nut and chocolate allergy, says, “If they don't get it we leave.  So sometimes a restaurant can serve us one day and maybe not the next just due to staffing.” 

As food allergy awareness increases, more restaurants seem to be willing to work with food allergic diners.  Menus and websites will often offer detailed information about allergens present.  There are a number of restaurants that now offer gluten free menus, like PF Changs, and many that offer great gluten free choices and fresh, dye-free ingredients, like Salsarita’s. 

When eating out as a family our dining options have been selectively narrowed to the places we know and trust.  I am certain there are other great restaurants in Louisville that cater to the needs of the food allergic that we have not tried.  I picked the brains of some of our Louisville friends who also face the challenge of dining out with various food allergies and below are their top picks.  Bon Appetite- with caution and armed with all the questions you need to have answered to feel safe while dining out.  And, never leave your Epi-pen at home. 

WildEggs (Westport Village)

To support those with food allergies, participate in the Walk for Food Allergies in Louisville. 
By guest contributor: Tami

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