Eating out at restaurants when you live with food allergies can be a difficult task. Commercial kitchens cook multiple dishes prepared on the same surfaces, and restaurant staff usually can't make any guarantees regarding cross-contact with food allergens, even in a city with as many options as Toronto.
That being said, many people with food allergies still manage to eat out safely at restaurants, as there are some restaurants that handle customization and understand the importance of food allergies better than others. The following 10 Toronto restaurants have been deemed allergy-friendly based on their menu options, ability and willingness to customize meals and the information they make available on allergens and ingredients.
Keep in mind that an allergy-friendly business can change owners, ingredients or recipes at any time.
Since food allergens and sensitivities are different for everyone, please visit their website, call the restaurant in advance to talk to the chef or restaurant management, and make sure to speak to them again when you arrive. Most importantly, have your epinephrine auto-injector with you before consuming any food.
Here are the top 10 allergy-friendly restaurants in Toronto:
Where: 881 Queen St. W.; Phone: (647) 350-1881; Twitter: @thisisafeast
While FEAST is technically not a restaurant, this allergy-friendly fine food store has an in-house kitchen that serves hot pocket pies, mini vegan pizzas, salads, donuts and other sweet and savoury goodies for take-out. Every ingredient has been verified with the manufacturer to be free from gluten and all of the top eight allergens: wheat, nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, dairy, egg and soy. The kitchen is also free from mustard, sesame and sulphites. The take-out counter items are pre-prepared so customization is not possible, but full ingredient lists are posted so you know exactly what you will be consuming.
Where: 140 Spadina Ave., Suite A101; Phone: (647) 351-7618; Twitter: @lovinghutto
The Loving Hut serves healthy, delicious foods with a variety of tastes, such as Vietnamese and Chinese dishes that are organic, vegan, non-GMO, peanut/nut free and contain no MSG. Their menu is also filled with many gluten-free options. Dishes are made to order and the staff is happy to make customizations to suit your tastes or dietary restrictions.
Where: 431 College St.; Phone: 416-603-3090; Twitter: @thesneakydees
The infamous Sneaky-Dee’s concert venue is also well known for its Tex-Mex and pub-style favourites. The kitchen is open late with a reasonably priced menu and offers a festive atmosphere for all to sit and chat or dance the night away. The entire menu is peanut and tree nut-free, aside from the desserts, which are not made in their kitchen. There are many gluten-free options on the menu and they have a dedicated vegan fryer. All food is made to order and they are happy to make modifications to suit your dietary restrictions.
Where: 1112 Queen St. W.; Phone: (647) 342-3732; Twitter: @poutini
Poutini’s House of Poutine is a popular place to grab a late night poutine in Queen West. Although it’s not a full-service restaurant, there are counters in the restaurant where you can enjoy your meal. The kitchen is free of peanuts and tree nuts. Their potatoes are hand cut, in-house that day and cooked in a dedicated fryer in vegetable oil. They have practices in place to reduce the risk of cross-contact for their vegan and gluten-free gravy and cheese. The vegan gravy is made in completely separate pots from the other gravies, and are washed and stored in separate areas. They also serve Daiya vegan, gluten-free cheese which is stored on a separate shelf away from any dairy. All dishes are made to order, and can make modifications to their dishes to accommodate food allergies and intolerances.
Where: 270 Wellington St. W.; Phone: (416) 260-0200; Twitter: @PizzaRustica
Pizza Rustica is a casual contemporary restaurant that serves gourmet pizza, pasta, paninis, salads and more. They're more than willing to customize dishes to suit dietary restrictions, with many vegan and gluten-free main course and dessert options available, including gluten-free pizza crusts that don't contain egg, and vegan Daiya cheese. Their basil pesto sauce is made in-house and does not contain any tree nuts. Peanuts are used as garnish on some salads, but they have practices in place to contain them and prevent cross-contact in the kitchen.
Where: 386 Bloor St. W.; Phone: (647) 748-2333; Twitter: @FamosoPizzeria
Allergy info here
This fast-casual pizzeria serves authentic Neapolitan pizza in a warm and lively atmosphere. The Toronto Annex location came highly recommended by a family that lives with multiple food allergies which include soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, seeds and most legumes. Restaurant staff is highly knowledgeable on practices that minimize cross-contact risks, and they are able to customize dishes to suit many dietary restrictions. Famoso has a comprehensive allergy menu posted online.
Where: Multiple locations across the GTA and Canada; Twitter: @SwissChaletCa; Allergy info here
Most Canadians are very familiar with Swiss Chalet's rotisserie chicken and comfort foods. They have an interactive allergy guide available online that can help people with allergies to the top 10 common food allergens make informed decisions quickly and easily. Full ingredient lists are not accessible online, but would be available in the restaurant.
Where: Multiple locations across the GTA and Canada; Twitter: @TheKeg; Allergy info here
The Keg's juicy steaks and traditional Canadian cuisine are a great option for a fancy (but not too fancy) dinner out. They have a comprehensive allergy guide posted online and offer a wide variety of gluten-free menu options. All food is made to order, and the kitchen staff is more than willing to customize meals to suit food allergies and intolerances. There are many Keg locations with varying atmospheres across Toronto. The Keg Mansion on Jarvis Street is a prominent downtown heritage building and is a particularly interesting location to visit, especially if you enjoy ghost stories.
Where: Multiple locations across the GTA and Ontario; Twitter: @_pizzaiolo_
This specialty pizza chain makes gluten-free pizza dough fresh daily, and has been called the Best Gluten-Free Pizza in Canada. They have a number of gluten-free toppings, and the option to use vegan, soy-free Daiya cheese so that every pizza they make maintains the mouthwatering flavour of traditional Italian pizza. All Pizzaiolo locations are 100 per cent nut free.
Where: Multiple locations across the GTA and Canada; Twitter: @McD_Canada; Allergy info here.
Yes, McDonald's. It's the “go-to” quick service restaurant for many families that live with food allergies. They have a standardized menu and provide a complete ingredient and nutrition breakdown, which is available in every McDonald's restaurant across Canada. The only peanuts in the restaurant are distributed in pre-packaged bags by the cashier to avoid the risk of cross-contamination. The French fries are cooked in a dedicated fryer and all dishes are made to order with the ability to customize meals to your dietary preferences. And you can't beat the convenience.
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