Allergy-Friendly Restaurants

Parent Q&A

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  • Dairy/Soy Free Eating Out Recs

    (4 replies)

    Any recommendations for restaurants that are allergen friendly and/or have menus that are well labeled for allergens? Recently made the switch to a dairy and soy free diet for my nursing babe with a food allergy and am nervous to eat out and accidentally eat something that makes her sick. Open to all types of restaurants - from toddler friendly and super casual all the way to a very needed date night spots!

    I'm in the same boat! Here's what I've found so far - Paulista on Park Blvd was able to tell me that they use soybean oil to fry but otherwise there is no soy in other dishes. Dairy was easy to spot on the menu and avoid. Timeless on Piedmont Ave has a nice dairy and soy free birthday cake that we used for a celebration but not all their cakes are soy free and virtually all their pastries have soy. Mr. Dewey's cashew creamery ice cream is dairy and soy free and is great, the scoop shop on Solano does have sprinkles which is important for my 4 year old :)

    Pomella in Oakland has allergens listed on their menu. I've heard that Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley lists every ingredient in their prepared food. Also, I remember bookmarking this site back in the day: It's supposed to show you which restaurants are allergy friendly, and allows you to filter based on allergens.

    Servers are usually very understanding of allergens, and generally know which items on the menus have said allergens. And if they don't know, they are happy to ask the kitchen!

    My mother-in-law is gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free but eats fish and eggs, and can't have added sugar, my sister-in-law has severe celiac disease. and I am allergic to eggs and shellfish and we have no problem finding tons of places to eat. You just have to tell them your restrictions and probably best to check out the menus in advance. You probably don't have to limit yourself as much as you think, though I TOTALLY get the anxiety. My SIL will end up in the hospital if she eats gluten or it even whispers over her food so I totally get it.

    Rudy's (diner in Emeryville) is a spot where most people can find something, it's good for toddlers, and they are very accommodating to food restrictions (which is somewhat unexpected since it's a diner). Pretty much any upscale place can work around food restrictions, especially if given advance notice (plan those date nights!).

    Good luck! You got this!

    I'm lactose intolerant so I always appreciate a vegan restaurant because I don't have to triple check that the dishes are dairy free. Lots of vegan restaurants also list other allergens, like soy. The Butcher's Son in Berkeley (cute back patio) and Vegan Mob (takeout only but near Lake Merritt) are two solid vegan options that have allergen info. 

  • Allergy friendly restaurants?

    (2 replies)

    I’m relatively new to Berkeley and hoping to get some help finding allergy friendly restaurants. Im allergic to soy, egg, and gluten. So far I’ve had luck at Little Star Pizza, Cactus, and Mariposa.  I know they’re more are out there but my searches haven’t turned up a ton!

    any suggestions? 

    Millenium, vegan mob, A+ burgers, Lao thai kitchen

    You might want to try Cafe Colucci on Telegraph. Get the gluten-free injera.

  • Gluten / dairy free restaurant options?

    (8 replies)

    My sister is coming to visit from out of state along with her 3 kids, all of whom are severely allergic to gluten and dairy. They love all Asian foods and will try anything, but I’m wondering if anyone has recommendations for restaurants that can definitely do gluten-free & dairy-free food. The soy sauce (which contains wheat) is generally the big trigger at Asian places. We’ll be mostly in north Oakland (where I live) and San Francisco (for tourist stuff) so would love recommendations for either side of the bay. Thank you!

     Sanctuary Bistro, 1019 Camellia St, off of Gilman in Berkeley, is completely dairy free and gluten-free (it is also vegan). One of my favorite restaurants.  If you’re willing to go vegan you can also look for restaurant listings using the app HappyCow.  It lists vegetarian and vegan restaurants and I find it very helpful and reliable.  It’s not unusual for vegan restaurants to be a little more thoughtful about gluten free Items. Good luck!

    Here are some recs!

    Cholita Linda (just get stuff without cheese and crema)

    The Star has a great gf pizza and they have df cheese. You can customize your own pizza and make it df/gf.

    Burma Superstar (just choose what they can eat from the menu)

    Pretty much any Vietnamese restaurant and just be careful about dishes w soy sauce.

    Homeroom has gf pasta and df cheese

    Mariposa, Timeless Coffee and James and the Giant Cupcake for sweets. There’s also Wholesome Bakery in SF.

    Sanctuary Bistro in Berkeley near the REI is 100% gluten-free and vegan. Delicious soups, salads, sandwiches, brunch and dinner that even those without dietary restrictions like. Lots of the food is nut-based, so if nut allergies are an issue, it's not a good choice. Mariposa Bakery on Telegraph in Oakland is 100% gluten-free and also has some dairy free items -- it is both a bakery and cafe, and everything is labeled for allergens so you can figure out what is safe to eat.  Royal Rangoon Burmese restaurant on Telegraph in Oakland has some gluten-free items. The last time I was at Renee's Place on Solano Ave  (Berkeley/Albany) (Chinese food), they were able to make some dishes gluten-free. Delhi Diner is an Indian place on Solano Ave that has some gluten free and vegan dishes.  And if you're looking for sweet treats, James and the Giant Cupcake on San Pablo near Alcatraz in Oakland has one or two gluten-free/vegan cupcakes and mini cupcakes every day. Mr. Dewey's on Solano in Albany is a cashew-based dairy -free ice-cream shop. They have a few flavors that have gluten, but most are gluten-free.  If your touristy stuff takes you to Napa, Oxbow Market has a number of gluten-free options, though I'm not sure how many are also dairy free.  Hope you all have a great time together!

    Sanctuary Bistro in Berkeley is delicious! All vegan and gluten free. Millenium may also have good options.

    Gluten-free, dairy-free is available in our area.  

    (1) Kitava at 16th & Mission in SF is a casual Paleo restaurant and very good.  They have a General Tso's chicken that is excellent.

    (2) Asian Box has a few locations: 1 in SF (Marina area) and the rest in the Peninsula/South Bay.  It is the cuisine they love and entirely GF.

    (3) Picante in Berkeley has a clearly labeled menu.  I've eaten safely there many times.

    (4) Pica Pica is in the Mission and is Venezuelan cuisine, entirely GF

    (5) There is a take-out place in Elmwood area of Berkeley (right next to Summer Kitchen) but the name is escaping me at the moment.  Great salads, grab and go.

    (6) Most sushi restaurants have Tamari (soy sauce minus the wheat) if you ask for it.  Tastes exactly the same as regular soy sauce.  

    That's all I can think of right now.  If you or your sister want to email me, you are welcome to.  

    --Sharon, Gluten-free for 5 years, dairy-free for 3

    I believe Burma Superstar could accommodate. Two Mammas Vegan for brunch/lunch Thurs-Sun. 

    Try Mission Heirloom in the Gourmet Ghetto.

    Potala Restaurant on San Pablo in Albany across from the "new" Sprouts is macrobiotic so not only gluten/dairy free but also vegan.  I always go there when I'm in need of a nourishing and healthy meal.  

    Also, try Three-Stone Hearth on University near Sacramento in Berkeley.  It's basically high quality take-out and they carry gluten/dairy-free food as well as organic dairy and meat options   I use their stews and soups as a base for multiple meals.  Their personal body-care products are wonderful as well.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Sister with gluten sensitivity - restaurants?

May 2007

My sister is coming to visit me in Berkeley and is extremely sensitive to gluten. Does anyone have recommendations for reasonably-priced restaurants familiar with/catering to gluten sensitivity (other than national chains like Outback and PFChang's)? The archives' latest posts are from 2004 and mostly nonspecific. Margery

Try any Ethiopian restaurant. We like Cafe Colucci on Telegraph near Alcatraz. My son loves Chevy's, but any Mexican works. Angela

Hello, I'm not familiar with any gluten-free restaurants in the area but as a gluten-sensitive person, I can make one suggestion. For the most part, Mexican restaurants are usually a safe bet, as long as you stick to corn tortillas and avoid sauces. Unfortunately, most asian foods are out, because they usually have soy sauce which has wheat in it. Good luck! gluten-free

Cafe Gratitude on Shattuck. Their whole menu is gluten free. Its a really neat restaurant. You can find their menu and info. on their website. Lisa

Any mexcian restaurant will do as long as they use corn tortillas. I've been to terrible mexican restaurant chains that are ''Americanized'' and serve everything in flour tortiallas. Avoid those places. Go with more authentic mexican which should be pretty easy around here.

Chinese is almost impossible as everything is cooked in soy sauce. If you like something with an asian flare, go with thai food. Most thai dishes use fish suace instead of soy sauce. And they have a lot of dishes that have rice noodles. Always ask to make sure. Caution: If it's a ''vegetarian'' thai dish, they tend to use soy sauce instead.

Another good option is Ajanta's. it is a very nice Indian restaurant in North Berkeley on Solano Ave. I talked to the guy who wrote the cookbook for the place, he is also the host. He told me that they don't use any wheat in their suaces. They only use chickpea flour for thickening, if at all. Their food is really good. Just avoid the naan (wheat bread) and get papdams (lental flour wafers)instead. I highly recommend the place.

I noticed that someone recommended Ethiopian food. You eat the food with this traditional ethiopian bread called Injera, instead of using utensils. It is suppose to be made from %100 teff flour. However, when I checked into it I found out that Ethipian restaurantes in this area cut their teff with wheat flour to extend it and to also make it more ''palatable'' to the American taste bud. One place was recommended as having the best injera in the area, the most authentic, but the chef from there told me that she mixes the teff with wheat flour. She will make an all teff injera, but you have to call in advance and make the arrangments. There are quite a few ethiopian resaurants in the area. You would have to call them and ask about their injera.

Cafe Gratitude is a wheat-free/gluten-free restaurant that uses only rice, buckwheat, and quinoa for their whole grains. However it is also a vegan and live food restaurant. Everything is free of meat, diary, and eggs. And nothing is cooked, except for the rice, buckwheat and quinoa. You have to really like that kind of thing. The food is very fresh and tasty and delicious! The dessets are also wonderful. I really like the place, but the portions are small and it's very expensive. However the desserts are pretty filling.

Epicurious Garden on Shattuck in the gourmet ghetto area, use to have a wonderful Socca place - provencial chick-pea flour ''pizzas''. Unfortunately they went out of business. However a mexican eatery took over the spot. There is also a soup place that has a lot of gluten-free soup options. And ice cream as well.

Any really nice, fancy restaurant, like Chez Panise, can make a gluten-free dinner for you as long as you contact them ahead of time. Most well trained chefs are very familiar with gluten-free issues. Nicer restaurants in general are very accommodating.

The resaurants that are most difficult are chain restaurants, especially fast food, unless they make a point of having gluten-free options. Chain restaurants tend to use premanufactured mixes, seasonings, sauces, soups and even meats. The people that work there usually don't know what's in all the food.

Dining can be challenging for a celiac, but with careful research, questioning, and special requests, you can have a wonderful gluten-free dining experience at just about any restaurant. Even when I go to a chinese restaurant I can request some dishes to be prepared without soy sauce. If they speak English well, then it's not a problem, however it's really hard when they don't understand why you can't have soy sauce. Even simple diners can accomodate, like mom and pop kind of places. Ask for a sandwich without the bread.

If you have any other questions about dining gluten-free around here, feel free to contact me directly. Laurey

I wanted to make a correction on a previous reply I made on gluten-free restaurants. A fellow celiac sent me an email to tell me that Cafe Gratitude is NOT a gluten-free restaurant. She learned the hard way. Apparently they use Namu Shoyu soy sauce in their sauces, soups and salad dressings. I tried to look this soy suace up on the internet to see if it indeed has wheat in it. But I couldn't find an ingredients list anywhere. I want to apologize for misleading anyone with Celiac disease into thinking that they are completely safe eating there. I thought I inquired before ordering my food. Perhaps the waitress didn't quite understand what I was asking, and I didn't even think to ask about soy sauce. I've only eaten there twice, since it is very expensive, and I never ordered salads or soups. I was probably lucky. Again, my apologies. Laurey

Restaurants for visiting father with Celiac

June 2004

My father, who was recently diagnosed with celiac, is coming to visit in July. Are there any restaurants in Berkeley/Albany or San Francisco that have gluten- free items on their menu? Thanks, Rebecca

My father also has celiac and when he is in town we go out for Thai, Chinese, or Japanese - lots of rice and other good stuff. I believe even the wontons and potstickers are made from rice flour. Daughter

Response to all who read the post by ''Daughter'' re: her belief that even the wontons and potsticker are made from rice flour. Unfortunately, this is incorrect, they are 100% wheat. For those with wheat allergeries or gluten intolerance ingestion of even small amounts of wheat can be dangerous, even life threatening so don't take a chance on this. In many Thai restaurants they make spring rolls from rice flour that is sometimes safe. Sometimes the rice paper pancake is made with a combination of wheat and rice. Elysse

Outback Steakhouse in Pinole, PF Chang's Walnut Creek, King Dong on Shattuck in Berkeley (I ask them for steamed mixed vegetables with prawns, no sauces, no wonton, I bring my own soy sauce), Mario's La Fiesta on Telegraph in Berkeley, Party Sushi on Shattuck in Berkeley has several safe selections but don't drink the tea (has barley). I also have Celiac Disease so I can provide more details. Feel free to email me directly. Elysse