Photo Courtesy of Jeff Turner
When you have food allergies, sometimes it can feel like an absolute circus even getting dinner on the table. Traveling with food allergies is even more difficult, especially if you have to accommodate multiple allergies. When my family went to New Orleans this past May, we had to contend with multiple allergies and food restrictions, making it downright impossible for us to simply walk into a restaurant and order up. A vacation should feel like a vacation, not another stress in life. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be creating guides and restaurant suggestions to those of you that are vacationing this summer with food allergies. Be sure to comment and share your suggestions for where I should explore next on my Allergy-Free Adventures!
If New Orleans was a woman, she would be a singer. The city hums as you walk down its cobbled streets, from the jazz playing in the French Quarter to the sound of your own feet as they play against the car horns. It’s a wonderful trip to take for a Girls’ Getaway or a family reunion.
In my case, I was watching a dear friend graduate from Tulane University and I brought along a couple members of my family to enjoy the trip with me. Unfortunately, many people in my family are restricted by food allergies, and it was hard for us to find restaurants where the menu worked for everyone.
First I want to get some of the good old traditions out of the way: Beignets are an absolute classic in New Orleans. Unfortunately, those that are gluten free are out of luck, because they are usually made with wheat flour. (Here’s a GF recipe, if you’re of a mind to make them at home!) Pralines, as well, are very vegetarian friendly. If you’re gluten free, Aunt Sally’s is your best bet for delicious pralines that fit your dietary restrictions. Unfortunately there isn’t much for Vegans or Dairy Free folks.
Onto the restaurants! It can be incredibly hard to even sit down to a meal when you have food allergies. If yours are particularly bad, ask to tour the kitchens, and if you must, speak with the chef. Most restaurants and chefs are very good at accommodating dietary restrictions.
Photo Courtesy of Kent Wang
One restaurant went completely above and beyond the call of duty when it came to dietary restrictions. Our first night in New Orleans we made reservations at Cochon, a restaurant primarily known for its meat based dishes. They do provide options for people with dietary restrictions, but can’t necessarily tell you what you’ll get because it’s made to order. I spoke with the waiter and outlined what I could and couldn’t eat, was assured they could accommodate my diet and then resigned myself to a mystery meal with increasing trepidation.
The waiters were knowledgeable and attentive, and returned often to ask those of us with dietary restrictions if we enjoyed spicy food or had a milder palate. In the end, I was presented with a gorgeous plate of peaches, mushrooms, corn, mint, and other vegetables. It was one of the most memorable meals I have eaten in my life. The flavors worked together brilliantly and our entire party left completely satisfied! The allergen friendly meal is always different at Cochon, so be sure and ask.
We also ate at Muriel’s and Emeril’s during our stay, two rather famous restaurants. I enjoyed the Vegetarian entrée at Muriel’s, but we found Emeril’s was a little less flexible in accommodations for dietary restrictions. The only thing that many of us could eat on the menu were the salads, leaving many of us hungry.
Photo Courtesy of Wally Gobetz
Johnny’s Po’boy’s was a highlight, and they have Po’Boys that can be ordered vegetarian, vegan, and dairy free. Unfortunately New Orleans is not the most gluten free-friendly city, so remember to call ahead and ask. If your allergy is severe ask to get a tour of the kitchens if you can.
All in all, New Orleans is a delicious city that almost everyone can enjoy with the right amount of research.
Let us know what New Orleans dishes you love, or offer a suggestion for the Next Allergen Free Adventure!