Monday, January 4, 2010

2009: A Look Back on My Favorite Restaurants and Retailers

With the new decade beginning we can be excited as food allergies were listed as a “trend” in The Washington Post and Food Although I am grateful for the additional exposure for food allergies and Celiac disease, I would prefer it wasn’t a trend, because as the trend ends, we still have our allergies/Celiac.

I wanted to share with you my favorite restaurants and shopping locales. I am only one person and although I am constantly looking for new things for my favorite allergenistas to try, I want to hear back from you, let me know if there is something I missed or a new product/restaurant that we should try. The lists are in no particular ranking order.

Top 5 Allergen Friendly Restaurants

There are many restaurants out there that have gluten-free menus, I think it is great that they accommodate this group, but this list is based on a restaurants willingness and creativity to adapt to multiple food allergies. Please share any restaurants where you have had a good experience.

  1. BOKA – BOKA was our last Safe & Sound dinner location, BOKA accommodated over 30 allergens in their menu and received raves from S&S allergenista, Alexandra Tsarpalas, “The Boka dinner was a total success! Chef Tentori prepared an amazing array of dishes, modified for the dinner, that were delectable. Each dish was a complex marriage of flavors that surprised and awed with every bite. Thank you Chef Tentori for putting together a wonderful evening!”

  2. CARNIVALE – Carnivale also avoided 30 allergens the night of our June Safe & Sound dinner, the thing I really liked about CARNIVALE is when some of the guests had requests for vegetarian, they didn’t even come to me, they just took care of it, and it was a beautiful vegetable tureen, something well thought out and inventive.

  3. Da Luciano’s – Da Luciano’s is run by a family that has 4 members that suffer from Celiac disease. They have a dedicated gluten free kitchen, but also accommodate other allergens including dairy and corn. I recommend their pizza and bruschetta.

  4. Ina’s – Ina’s has a monthly GF fried chicken night. In 2009, they expanded the chicken to be dairy free and egg free (you need to call in advance). In addition to their fried chicken special night, Ina serves breakfasts to die for….

  5. Bistro 110 - Bistro 110’s Chef Dominique Tougne has children with food allergies, so he understands the needs of us allergenistas and provides wonderful allergen free alternatives to allergen-laden French cuisine.

Top 5 Locations for Shopping

This category is for retail locations only in the Chicagoland area. I have placed an * next to the stores that will ship for you.

  1. Lil’s Dietary Specialty Shop* – One of my favorites, Lil’s shares samples and the owner goes out of her way to find you products that are not only safe but delicious.

  2. Whole Foods Market – Whole Foods has been a wonderful resource for people with food allergies and celiac disease, classes, samples and a large offering of allergen friendly/free foods. If you want Whole Foods Market to carry a certain brand, talk to the grocery team leader to see if they can carry it.

  3. Gluten Free Store* – This store in Northbrook, IL has a large selection of allergen free products with a corn free section.

  4. Soup to Nuts – This Geneva, IL store was one of the first stores to start carrying allergen friendly products, owner JR, prides herself on having a café to have lunch while you shop with lots of allergen free options.

  5. Free From Market* - I have not been to the Free From Market yet, but hear great things and wanted to include it on the list. Free From Market has special product tastings so you can compare brands before you buy!

I encourage you to share any locations you frequent, even outside the Chicagoland area. I hope my experiences have been helpful to you this year and look forward to trying the restaurants and shopping locations you recommend.

Next up: My favorite Flours and Sweet Treats


Jessicavox said...

I have severe food allergies to wheat, corn, egg yolk, avacado, kiwi, melon.

I would like to share that the francesca's restaurants have been amazing. I have dined at three different locations and had wonderful dinners at all. My favorite location so far is their lakeview location.

Lisa Cooks Allergen Free said...

Thanks for the tip, I can't wait to try them...

Betsy said...

I've heard nothing but good things about Francesca's! I can't wait to try it!

I love this list, Lisa. Thanks for compiling it! I'll have to stop by Bistro 110 and check them out, sounds amazing.

Anonymous said...

My children have dairy, egg, peanut and tree nut allergies. We've had wonderful meals at Catch 35 in Naperville and Wildfire at Oakbrook. The key has always been to call ahead and both restaurants went above and beyond to meet our needs. We also have had great experiences at Bistro 110.

Jenn Sutherland said...

Great Lists! My new favorite spot for stocking up on GF stuff (and Neuske's amazing bacon) is the incredibly HUGE Woodman's Market in Kenosha, WI. It's a bit of a trek to get up there, but they have a great selection of GF products - all together in one aisle which is so nice (wise up, Whole Foods!), and the prices are $1-3 cheaper per item than I've found in Chicago.