Finding out that your child (or yourself!) has developed an allergy or aversion to certain food groups can be a disorienting and even emotional shock. For a child, the news of having an allergy might make them feel like their life of eating out with friends, or even having meals at friends’ homes, is over.
However, as time has passed, allergy-awareness (as well as diagnoses) has increased, paving the way for more allergen-free options not only at the grocery store, but at various restaurants as well.
Living in New York is exciting for many reasons—one being that, because of its surplus population, there are numerous options for those who may even be struggling with their alternative diets.
Unfortunately, not every location on the following list can suit every single person’s needs, but each one does have specific options for at least one of the eight most common allergies (peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, gluten, soy, fish, and shellfish).
This is a small, “fancy” fast-food chain in NYC with an entirely vegan menu. One can get foods from a walnut-patty burger to shiitake bacon mac and cheese to a standard salad. And that’s not all! See the full menu here.
Allergens absent: dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish
Allergen-free options (however, made in the same kitchen): gluten
Cakes ‘N Shapes
It can be hard to find a nut-free bakery, but Cakes ‘N Shapes is completely dedicated to having both a peanut and tree nut-free kitchen. Not to mention that they also do print photos on cakes and cookies. Celebrate your nut-free child’s birthday with a confidently safe cake! Check out what they offer here.
Allergens absent: peanuts, tree nuts,
Allergen-free options: They have customization options, please ask if they can use allergen-substitutes.
A personal favorite, this 100 percent gluten-free Italian restaurant is located in the West Village. Perfect for brunch, lunch, and dinner, items from fluffy pancakes to the perfect GF bread rolls (which all of us Celiacs have missed since our diagnoses) are sure to please! And don’t forget to check out their newly opened “Senza Gluten Café & Bakery” location! See the full menu here.
Allergens absent: gluten
Allergen-free options: dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish
Essen New York Deli
Yes, a deli in Brooklyn that also does peanut and nut-free Chinese food—who would have thought? From sandwiches to noodles, their kitchen is entirely free of these allergens. See the full menu here.
Allergens absent: peanuts, tree nuts
Allergen-free options: dairy, gluten
The Little Beet
Another entirely gluten-free restaurant with locations in Manhattan, Westchester, and Long Island! If you like bowl-type meals and breakfast sandwiches and parfaits, this one is for you. Their online menu even has a feature that allows you to select your dietary restrictions and crosses out which items are unsafe for you. See the full menu here.
Allergens absent: gluten, shellfish
Allergen-free options: tree nuts, dairy, soy, eggs, fish
Erin McKenna’s Bakery
Finishing off the list with another bakery (time for dessert!), Erin McKenna’s checks off a lot on the allergen-free list. Being a vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free food vendor, they also strive to be as sugar, peanut, and nut-free as possible. Check their menu for full details and be sure to ask when you stop in!
Allergens absent: gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fish, shellfish
Allergen-free options: peanuts, tree nuts
Fortunately, this, of course, is only a small sample of restaurants to choose from. There are many other options you may want to see from various resources, such as Nut Free New York, Dairy Free Traveler, Gluten-Free Globetrotter, and The Allergy Free Life. Surely, these lists of allergen-free options will continue to grow.
One final piece of advice: always remember to let the restaurant staff know of your allergy, especially if they have that allergen somewhere in the kitchen. Other than that, start planning your next outing, and happy eating!
Margaret Rothfus is a current freelancer living in New York. An English major at Fordham University, she is Copy Chief for the school’s newspaper, The Fordham Ram, and serves as a class senator in the school’s United Student Government. Margaret, originally from Pittsburgh, loves to explore New York City for activities, fun, and food.