One of my biggest fears and frustrations when dining out is finding a restaurant that is allergy friendly.

There are 4 chains that I think are the least allergy friendly: McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Willy’s.  The problem I have with Cracker Barrel is not the food but the garnish used on the plates. For some reason they insist on garnish all breakfast plates with orange.  So even when food is allergy safe (I’m allergic to oranges) I have to remember to have the stupid garnish omitted. I always have a fear that they just remove because their servers don’t seem to be knowledgeable about the dangers of food allergies.

The drink machine is problematic at McDonald’s, Moe’s and Willy’s. All 3 have machines that use a single line for all drinks. I have actually had a reaction from a drink at McDonald’s. The problem with McDonald’s is the shake machine and drinks from the drive through. Both local and corporate management are willing unconcerned. Also the workers at McDonald’s are poorly trained in the allergy awareness. Moe’s and Willie’s have the Coca-Cola Freestyle machines. It allow drinks to be customized using a single line. It would be nice if they also had a standard machine as well.

I have noticed in recent years more restaurants are willing to accommodate those with food allergies. Mercado Juarez chain in the Ft Worth area were the first restaurants I ever encountered that actively made accommodations for food allergies.

Chili’s Grill & Bar and McAlister’s Deli are extremely allergy friendly. Chili’s has special menus available based on allergies. McAlister’s has a very detailed chart at the counter. Both have staff that are trained in handling allergies. While our server at McAlister’s may not have know much about allergies he certainly knew what to do. He knew where to find information about the food and even double checked with the kitchen staff.

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