Navigating life with a food-allergic child takes a lot of work. There’s the constant planning for every eventuality. Then, there’s the homework, learning to read labels, being aware of the latest research and asking the right questions. For some families, the thought of eating out is, simply, out of the question. Yet, things are changing. With increased awareness, food allergies are being acknowledged and respected in a new way. Many restaurants and bakeries now offer safe options for those who can’t eat certain foods. Whether your family is ready to dive into dining out with food allergies or prefers to take baby steps, here are the must-stop spots to try in Toronto.
A visit to Bloomer’s takes a free afternoon and a forgiving pair of pants. You’ll want to sample some of their glorious, compellingly-flavoured donuts (we recommend rose pistachio and piña colada). The kids will want to try the cookies and mini loaves. After perusing the menu, you’ll want to order tempeh wings and pulled jack sandwiches for lunch. Though not gluten-, soy- or nut-free, Bloomer’s menu is %100 vegan, meaning many diners will find plenty of options available to them and plenty of reasons to keep coming back.
Allergy-friendly baking requires accurate recipes and a lot of trial and error. For a welcome break, stop into one of Bunner’s Bake Shop’s two locations where you’ll find mouth-watering, gluten-, dairy- and egg-free celebration cakes, seasonal fruit pies and some of the city’s largest, and most enticing cinnamon buns. Add a few pot pies to your order and you’ll be set for a scrumptious dinner, too.
A first in Toronto, Hype Food Co., is a family-friendly, allergy-aware, fast-casual restaurant run by the mother of kids with multiple food allergies. The menu, a mix of build-your-own rice, noodle and salad bowls is free of the top 9 allergens and gluten. With house-made, dairy-free soft serve and a variety of cupcakes, cookies and mini-loaves on offer for dessert, Hype is a one-stop-shop for a worry-free family outing.
With seven downtown locations (and one more on the way!) this health-food mecca is the place to go for gluten-free, plant-based meals that are as good for you as they are for the planet. A variety of thoughtfully-composed bowls, salads, soups, toasts and smoothies, each one featuring layer upon layer of flavour and a nutritionist’s dream-list of ingredients, means there’s something to satisfy every palate, with no animal products or wheat in sight.
The next time your family has something to celebrate, move the party to one of Planta’s two upscale, stylish locations. On the %100 plant-based menu you’ll find everything from cauliflower tots and lentil paté to Planta’s famous burgers. Just keep in mind, though Planta offers several nut-free and gluten-free options, its kitchen is not nut- or gluten-free.
There’s something about pastel hues, fine china and perfectly-piped cupcakes that, when combined, seems to soothe all ills. Throw in the fact that those cupcakes are produced in a vegan kitchen, that’s free of gluten and the top 9 allergens and you’ll feel down-right rejuvenated. Savour a sweet Sorelle tart or pause over a bowl of homemade vegetable soup. Whatever you choose, you’ll feel comforted and pampered at this elegant spot.
*As allergy advocates recommend, always check ingredients by phoning the restaurant prior to your visit. Also, speak with the waiter, manager and chef about your family’s specific allergies before ordering to be certain that menu items and ingredients have not changed.