From Italian to Chinese, plenty of accommodating restaurants will cater to any dietary needs. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegan, or have allergies and other dietary restrictions, here are some strategies and technologies to get a meal that’s personalized and delicious.
Among the pages of mouth-watering Asian options lies gluten-free and vegetarian menus. Any other dietary needs are handled in a unique — and intelligent — way.
After informing my exceptionally attentive waiter that I had some food allergies, a manager appeared and recorded my allergy list (soy, peanuts and milk). He then entered my allergy list into a program that created a specialized menu that only included dishes devoid of my allergies.
I received a printed menu that listed multiple options I could enjoy without any alterations. So, I decided to indulge. I began my meal with some steamed shrimp dumplings and finished it off with the spicy Dali Chicken (my new favorite chicken dish).
Just be sure to verify that the ingredients you don’t want included are listed at the top of your personalized menu and you’ll be set for a delectable Chinese dish.
Allergy-friendly grade: A+
Where: Multiple locations
Even the gluten intolerant can indulge in this Italian-style favorite. They’ve got an entire gluten-free menu, which even includes gluten-free pasta. (Carboholics rejoice!)
When I visited Maggiano’s, the shrimp scampi instantly caught my eye. But their (surely delicious) recipe included a sauce made of white wine, garlic, lemon butter and cheese. Knowing that anything I ordered would have to be altered in some way, I simply informed my waitress of my allergies.
A kitchen liaison came to my table and detailed each ingredient. She explained how the meal is typically prepared and how she would alter the preparation to fit my needs.
She opened a fresh bag of shrimp and freshly-made noodles without any of the oils or butters that I am allergic to and created a new sauce of garlic and olive oil. She even threw in asparagus to add more flavor. (Yum!)
I had to wait about 20 minutes longer for my freshly prepared meal, but it was well worth the wait. Plus, I had leftovers for the next two days. Win-win!
Allergy-friendly grade: A
Where: 7875 Montgomery Road, Kenwood
If you think pizza can’t be a part of a gluten-free diet, think again. The folks at Naked Pizza are dedicated to preparing delicious – and surprisingly nutritious – pizzas for many dietary needs.
I regretfully could not partake in any of the deliciousness because both their gluten-free and Artisan Blend crusts contain soy.
But a close friend of mine who is gluten intolerant sampled the gluten-free version of the “superbiotic” pizza and informed me that it was phenomenal – it didn’t taste like a typical gluten-free pizza. Plus, it’s all-natural and contains lots of healthy benefits, so you can eat guilt-free. This Naked favorite is topped with artichokes, spinach, bell peppers, mushrooms, garlic, red onions and cilantro and is delicious on both of their signature crusts.
When you order a gluten-free pizza, it’s prepared in a separate kitchen away from other pizzas, and it’s made with freshly cleaned utensils. Not only do you know you’re getting a pizza that’s gluten-free, but one that’s also healthy for you with lots of nutritional benefits.
If you’re vegan or have any other dietary restrictions, just inform the staff and they will leave them out of your order.
Allergy-friendly grade: B+
Where: 3646 Edwards Road, Hyde Park
First Watch offers an array of fresh, healthy (and even gluten-free) options that are sure to please.
Not only does their menu include natural ingredients, but they also offer a detailed list of every item and its allergens. This method is easy to navigate and helped me narrow down my decision.
Though I couldn’t order anything directly from the menu, my waitress was accommodating and allowed me to create my own scrambled egg breakfast made with spinach, onion and green onion. It was prepared on a clean pan, away from other ingredients.
Bring on any requests, and the staff at First Watch will help you start your day with a healthy, specialized, delicious breakfast.
Allergy-friendly grade: B
Where: Multiple locations
bd’s Mongolian Grill
Bd’s Mongolian Grill is known for its large, rotating grill that creates authentic, made-to-order stir-fry. But if you’re worried about your meal sharing a grill with certain ingredients, simply hop over to bd’s “Allergy Zone,” a separate kitchen that sets bd’s apart.
After piling my bowl high with rice noodles, seafood and vegetables, I headed over to the “Allergy Zone.” There, I perused their detailed allergy list and chose the “Mongo Marinara” for the chef to saute my meal with on a freshly cleaned pan, away from other customers’ food.
One thing to be careful about: all of the ingredients for the create-your-own stir-fry are placed snugly beside each other, increasing odds of cross-contamination.
If you’re worried, just talk with the staff, who will gladly walk you through ingredients and guide you to the “Allergy Zone.” You will receive a mouth-watering Mongolian dish.
Allergy-friendly grade: B-
Where: Multiple locations
More health-friendly places
Six other places you’ll find lots of health-conscious options.
Green Dog Café
Many menu items at Green Dog Café can be prepared vegan, dairy-free or gluten-free, including the Green Chow Chow Curry, the Chihuahua Bowl (with black beans, corn salad, tomato salsa, and organic rice), and the Green Dog Chili Cheese Fries.
• 3543 Columbia Parkway, Columbia-Tusculum. 513-321-8777, www.greendogcafe.net.
Melt’s bread is vegan and they offer a gluten-free option as well for their baked sandwiches and salads. If you don’t or can’t eat cheese, you can switch it out for vegan smokey cheddar or rinotta.
• 4165 Hamilton Ave., Northside. 513-681-6358, www.meltcincy.com.
Park + Vine
The vegan-friendly, local and seasonal items at Park + Vine all can be made gluten-free. Sandwiches include BBQ sliders and a portabella burger.
• 1202 Main St., Over-the-Rhine. 513-721-7275, www.parkandvine.com.
A Forkable Feast
If you don’t feel like cooking but want a home-cooked meal, pick up a brick oven pizza at A Forkable Feast. They have gluten-free bread, baguettes, pizza crusts and chocolate cookies, and will make other desserts and rolls gluten-free if you ask.
• 3363 Madison Road, Oakley. 513-871-8646, www.aforkablefeast.com.
The Mellow Mushroom offers gluten-free 14” (medium) pizzas. Have your choice of the House Special, Gourmet White, Mighty Meaty, Kosmic Karma or Cheese.
• 1014 Town Drive, Wilder. (Opening soon in West Chester.) 859-441-6600, www.mellowmushroom.com.