Whether you are traveling to Boston or are simply new to this allergy game in the hub of the universe, here are some places to dine that should both feed and protect your family. Laws are pretty awesome here in Massachusetts around allergy awareness, but there are some places that just do it right and keep us safe.
While reading this list, please note that each allergy is different, and there are so many places that work amazingly well for some families and not for others, based on the particular allergy — vegan food is great for egg allergies, for example, but not always great for nut allergies; Chinese food is great for dairy allergies, not so much for sesame allergies. ALWAYS communicate with your server and ask for a manager if you need more support — you are your child’s advocate, of course!
The list below is a roundup from personal experiences and suggestions from friends. We all agree that these places are very accommodating and try their best to keep you safe. If there was a challenge, or the restaurant made us feel like we were being “difficult” in keeping our children safe (and alive), they did not make the cut. Also, if these spots are good with allergies, they must be just awesome all around!
Blue Ginger (Wellesley) and Blue Dragon (Boston)
Ming Tsai is not just a celebrity chef, he is an allergy dad who made it his mission to keep his son safe and change restaurant culture forever. He is also an official spokesperson and allergy advocate for FARE. Of course, his restaurants are the safest around. Thank you, Ming!
Legal Sea Foods (Boston, Burlington, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chestnut Hill, Dedham, and beyond)
Legal is very helpful and clear about making sure to know and work with your allergies!
Sweet Cheeks (Boston/Fenway)
Tiffani Faison is a Top Chef celeb, indeed, but she also creates a really amazing space for friends, offers barbecue like nowhere else, and is incredibly careful. Don’t forget to order the biscuits with honey butter (unless you have a gluten or dairy allergy, of course!)
Walnut Grille (Newton)
A vegetarian paradise with many vegan options, Walnut Grille has a really helpful staff! This was a winner in so many allergy circles, from egg allergies to gluten allergies.
The Cottage (Chestnut Hill and Wellesley)
California cuisine along with a nice atmosphere that doesn’t feel like a place for kids but is family friendly — really?! Yes! It is one of my favorite spots, and they are fastidious about allergy safety.
Wagamama (Boston, Cambridge)
Another fan favorite, Wagamama came up in many of my conversations as being really respectful about cooking food separately to ensure safety from cross-contamination. From personal experience, I was wildly impressed with the communication about each ingredient, along with their team approach to service.
Not Your Average Joe’s (Arlington, Burlington, Needham, Waltham, Watertown, and beyond)
Families mentioned NYAJ in many conversations and appreciate their care to allergies!
Bertuccis (Boston, Cambridge, Framingham, Medford, Newton, Needham, and beyond)
One of the coolest things about Bertucci’s is when I look over from our table and see all my allergy friends dining around us — and this is no coincidence! Our nut allergies are extra safe here.
Burtons Grille (Burlington, Hingham, North Andover, Peabody, and Westford)
Mentioned in my allergy awareness group online, families appreciate Burtons Grille’s commitment to safety for our families.
Family dining where kids can eat safely is always a winner.
Top of the Hub (Boston)
Amazing views, romantic, and a total tourist and local fave — and fancy! Who brings their kids there? Me, that’s who. I was so impressed to have the chef come over to our table to be sure we felt comfortable with how she was going to prepare my child’s meal — and it was delicious too!
Veggie Galaxy (Cambridge)
This vegetarian/vegan paradise is perfect for egg and dairy allergies. The bakery is 100% vegan and includes cheesecakes and chocolate cakes. And the regular menu includes macaroni and cheese and so much more!
Fast for families
Chipotle (Boston, Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Somerville, Medford, Watertown, and beyond)
This fast-food chain has been a favorite of allergy families in many circles, and it seems to make everyone pretty happy!
Comellas (Belmont, Chestnut Hill, Concord, Hingham, Natick, Needham, West Roxbury, and beyond)
Famous for their “messes” and $5 pizzas, Comella’s is a safe spot for a lot of nut-free families and can feed a huge group in a snap!
Hearth Pizzeria (Needham)
This is a family favorite for a lot of my allergy pals, as this spot is super careful to take care of nut allergy kids and serve up some yummy pizza too!
Flatbread Company (Amesbury, Bedford, Georgetown, Salem, Somerville)
Ridiculously delicious pizza with a commitment to safety? Yes, please! The Somerville location is also Sacco’s Bowl Haven — such a good time!
Jennifer Lee’s Gourmet Bakery (Boston, Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market, and online ordering)
This bakery is amazing and has so many options that are meant for people with allergies! Started by an entrepreneurial 17-year-old, this bakery has amazing breads, donuts, cakes, and more, all designed to be completely vegan, gluten free, nut free, peanut free, coconut free, and sesame free.
The Sleepy Baker (Natick)
These cakes are both delicious and gorgeous, and owner Liz is amazingly talented and a mom who gets it. While she is not exclusively gluten free, nut free, etc., she can accommodate your needs!
J.P. Licks (Boston, Brookline, Lynnfield, Newton, Somerville, Wellesley, and beyond)
Careful enough to open up a new batch of ice cream for my child is what makes J.P. Licks top of the list!
This is a sister-run bakery that was born from the desire to provide treats for the gluten-free and dairy-free crew after living with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease diagnoses. Menu options are so fun, from whoopie pies to blondies to cookies. Some delectable items like pizza and tea breads are also egg free and nut free, too.
Abbott’s Frozen Custard (Brighton and Needham)
Even though there are nuts and peanuts everywhere, my local Abbott’s is so careful with fresh batches and clean scoops, I am so grateful to treat my daughter here safely!
Treat Cupcakes (Chestnut Hill and Needham)
Gluten free, nut free, dairy free, egg free — there are lots of fun options here and they are very careful to bake separately, too! Safety and yummy is surely a treat!
Dessert Workshop (Needham)
Next to Treat Cupcakes in Needham is a soft-serve mecca for delicious frozen yogurt that is safe. Talk to the staff there about adding toppings that have been unopened from the back — this was an impressive and thoughtful touch!
Sweet (Boston, Cambridge, Chestnut Hill)
I cannot describe to you how amazingly happy Sweet makes me! It looks like a French boutique bakery and has the most thoughtful flavors — and it is all safe for my child’s allergies! In fact, the day I went in, the girl who was working there shared she has nut, peanut, and sesame allergies, too, and was so happy to work there and enjoy the sweet cupcakes.
Blacker’s Bakeshop (Newton)
Blacker’s is “a Kosher/Pareve (dairy free) and nut-free bakery with vegan options,” that is the spot for challah, babkah, half-moons, birthday cakes, and more.
Five Bites Cupcakes (Wellesley)
Here is a great spot for peanut- and nut-free cupcakes and mini cupcakes in amazing flavors like snickerdoodle, banana maple, and orange cream — and a whole lot more!
Twist Bakery (Millis)
This bakery came up in conversation a ton for being “always gluten free, peanut free, and nut free,” and there are some items that are egg free, dairy free, soy free, and more. I feel like my Facebook feed is basically just a Twist bakery advertisement for their gluten-free cinnamon rolls!
Half Baked (Beverly)
This bakery is 100% nut free and peanut free — and really yummy, too. From sandwiches to donuts, cupcakes and cookies, I was really excited to try this spot on a trip to the North Shore. We were not disappointed with the artisanal deliciousness!
Fomu (Allston, JP, South End)
This “earth-inspired” plant-based ice cream is on point! This ice cream is made from a coconut or nut base, so the flavors are thoughtful and amazing — perfect for those who have a dairy or egg allergy!
What did I miss? What is your favorite spot to go where you feel safe with your allergies?