I’m really lucky when it comes to food allergies; I’m not allergic to anything except pineapple on pizza. (Seriously. What are y’all thinking?) But I have lots of friends who aren’t as lucky, which makes eating out a bit of a research project, sometimes. AllergyEats, available at http://www.allergyeats.com/, is trying to build a database of restaurants which have been rated by consumers as to their “allergy-friendliness.” There are chain ratings at the moment, but individual restaurants ratings were hit-and-miss depending on where you were looking. (The site launched earlier this year.)
The interface is simple; choose among ten allergy concerns (peanuts, soy, dairy, wheat, eggs, gluten, etc) and enter your address, or just a state or zip code. You can also choose to enter part of a restaurant name if you like. I choose peanuts, dairy, and wheat, looking for restaurants within a 20-mile radius of 90210. I got 15,606 results. Allergy Eats has top-rated restaurants come to the top of the results (though searching for other places seemed to indicate that the site does not sort by chain ratings if no other ratings are available. Since sometimes there are not individual restaurant ratings available, I would like to be able to sort by chain ratings.)
90210 does have individually-rated restaurants. Top of the list here was Hugos Restaurant. Results are presented in a table that includes name of the restaurant, address, the allergy-friendliness rating (1 to 5 stars) and links to the restaurant’s official Web site, driving directions, etc. (Many of the chain restaurant results also have links to menus, ingredient lists, and documents that provide allergen information.) If you click on the “Details & Comments” button, you’ll get the restaurant’s detail page, which includes some expanded rating information and written reviews from users. (Example from Hugos: “Great!!! The menu had each item marked if it was gluten free and if it could be made gluten free. It was wonderful to be able to order with confidence that the kitchen was aware of gluten.”) Sometimes there were just ratings details and no written reviews.
In addition to the database of restaurants, the site also contains links to tips on dining out, a short linklist, and a blog. You have to be registered to post reviews and comments, but membership is free.
Whether you find individual restaurant reviews depends on your search, but I was very impressed with the infrastructure put together here, and there’s a lot of chain restaurant information. Nice work.