Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dietary Restrictions, Food Allergies and Religious Restrictions

While many of us enjoy dining out without regard to specific ingredients or restrictions, many others must navigate menus with caution, careful to avoid any potential dangers. Those could be in the form of dietary restrictions, food allergies or religious restrictions. I recommend a few area restaurants to folks visiting to help accommodate these needs.

Dietary Restrictions: This includes folks who are vegetarian (ovo-eggs, lacto-dairy, lacto-ovo-eggs and dairy), vegan, pescatarian and raw vegan.

  • Ali Baba's - Ali Baba's offers vegetarian items, including veggie dolmas, tabbouleh, baba ghannouj, tahini, falafel pita, falafel platter and hummus.
  • Black Bear Burritos - Black Bear not only accommodates vegetarian options, but it integrates them right into their meals. You'll often see a burrito that offers chicken and bacon, and they easily sub it out for "tofu and fakin'." They also have garden tofu chili, a TLT (tofu, lettuce tomato), and the "Cherise," which is their vegetarian version of the reuben with tofu and carrots in place of the turkey. They have a dedicated grill for vegetarian food.
  • Blue Moose Cafe - Blue Moose Cafe offers primarily all-natural, vegetarian meals in addition to lots of coffee drinks. Their menu items include bagels, gazpacho, fruit salad, granola bowls, hummus plates, hummus wraps and salads.
  • Chaang Thai - Chaang Thai has a specific section addressing both vegetarian and vegan concerns. All of their curry dishes are 100 percent vegetarian. Any item ordered with the vegetarian version will have tofu. Most items can be made vegetarian, but ask for no egg, no fish sauce and no main sauce (contains oyster sauce). Curries would be vegan if asked for the vegetarian version so there's no coconut milk. Also, some vegan appetizers are available, but some sauces have fish/oyster sauce in them so check with the waiter.
  • Clutch Wings - Clutch Wings offers tofu wings. You can get them in all the same sauces that the regular and boneless wings are offered in, which include buffalo, old bay, pb&j, sweet chili and mango habanero.
  • Eat'n Park - Eat'n Park has a vegetarian menu, which includes fried appetizer items, breakfast items, gardenburger, grilled cheese, and salads.
  • Los Mariachis - Los Mariachis has a vegetarian menu, which includes bean burritos, spinach enchiladas, potato burritos, chalupas, and quesadillas.
  • Mother India - Mother India offers vegetarian dishes, including channa masala, paneer and vegetable korma. All spices used are natural. There are rice-based dishes that can be made without the meat components.
  • Real Juice Bar and Cafe - The Real Juice Bar offers non-GMO and organic options and fresh juice and smoothies. They offer a number of house-made items like bagels, nut mylks, chia fruit spreads, protein bombs and roast coffee.
  • Saffron - Vegetarian items are available, such as channa masala, vegetable kurma, paneer tikka masala, kadai paneer, dal makhni, baingan bharta, malai kofta, yellow dal, bhindi masala, mutter paneer, vegetable jalfrezi, channa saag, palak panner/aloo, krahi aloo gobi and shahi paneer.
  • Taziki's - Taziki's offers a vegetarian menu, which includes hummus, greek salad, basmati rice, hummus, greek salad gyro, pasta salad, spicy pimento cheese, dolmades, grilled veggie gyro, and more.
  • Terra Cafe - Terra Cafe has a vegetarian-friendly menu with multiple options catering to the vegetarian crowd. For example, they offer a black bean burger served on toasted pita with lettuce, tomato, avocado, hot sauce and cilantro-lime creme fraiche. They also have a thai peanut wrap that can be served with tofu, a veggie reuben and many salad options, including a quinoa and lentil chop. 

Food Allergies: This includes folks who have an allergen to items, such as peanut, dairy, egg, wheat, gluten, soy, fish and shellfish.

  • Chaang Thai - Chaang Thai has a number of gluten-free options, including fresh rolls, chicken wings, pad thai, stir fry, and desserts.
  • Eat'n Park - Eat'n Park has a special menu for Celiac Disease.
  • Terra Cafe - Terra Cafe has gluten-free bread available for all their sandwiches.

Religious Restrictions: This includes folks who avoid certain foods for religious reasons. For example, this includes Catholics who avoid meat on Fridays of Advent and on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It also includes Muslims, who avoid pork, and the Jewish, who follow a kosher diet.


Other: There are a few smaller shops or businesses that cater to special dietary needs.
  • Mountain People's Co-Op - This shop offers natural, organic, fair trade and local grocery items, and healthcare products.
  • Venerable Bean - This vegan baking company offers sweet treats and tasty eats; everything from mini cakes, cookies and "pepperoni rolls." Gluten-free options are always available.
  • Sunflowers - This shop offers diet- and health-related items.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, it's always important to talk with your individual server or peak with a manager beforehand to make sure there is a dedicated grill to avoid any cross-contamination. In addition, many chain restaurants list entire nutrient and allergen information for every menu item.

If you have any restaurants to add or comments, please let me know! I'd love to have an evolving list to use as a resource.