If your kid has food allergies, dining out can be both difficult and scary. Since 1 in 13 kids in the U.S. has a food allergy we’ve researched where your family can find safe and delicious accommodating meal options in San Diego. The following restaurants have well-labeled menus and well-trained staff that cater to diners who have food allergies. It’s wise to call ahead with questions, speak with the chef or manager when ordering, expect some variations between locations and realize menus may change. For now, read on to discover a new place to take your kids to have a yummy, worry-free meal! Allergy-friendly breakfasts, lunches, dinners and divine treats ahead!

photo: John C. via Yelp

The Cottage
Enjoy beautiful patio seating, a kids menu, exceptional service and an award-winning brunch where attention to detail and time spent to get allergy orders right is the norm. Go early and use the Yelp app to “reserve” a seat during the breakfast rush to minimize wait time.

Menu Highlights: Stuffed French toast, eggs Benedict, fresh muffins.
Allergy Friendly features: Gluten-free and Vegan “Exceptions” menu, highly-trained staff, celiac safe.

7702 Fay Ave.
La Jolla, Ca 92037
Phone: 858-454-8409
Online: cottagelajolla.com

The Trails Eatery
At this cozy neighborhood restaurant, rest assured food is delicious and safe to eat. We especially love breakfasts here. Produce is perfectly fresh. On busy weekend mornings, grab a free mug of coffee outside while you wait for a table.

Menu Highlight: “Sin”-namon Roll Pancakes are fluffy and covered in decadent swirl icing.
Allergy Friendly Features: Gluten-free menu, celiac safe, vegan substitutions, dedicated prep and storage area,  knowledgable wait staff. Nut allergies: Avoid fried foods.

7389 Jackson Dr.
San Diego Ca 92119
Phone: 619-667-2233
Online: thetrailseatery.com

photo: Lena Y. via Yelp

Plant Power Fast Food
When you want life to feel normal again, look to Plant Power Fast Food. They offer kid favorites like burgers, fries and shakes and adults rate them highly too–– for taste, efficiency and commitment to health. Their plant-based menu items contain no animal products , GMOs or preservatives. Grab a bite via the drive through to take home like any other family after baseball practice… without the worry.

Menu Highlights: The Big Zac (think McDonald’s counterpart), Voodoo fries smothered in chili chez goodness. Kids love the The ‘chicken’ tenders and root beer float.
Allergy Friendly features: Online link to allergen info including soy, nuts, and gluten.

2204 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, Ca 92107

411 Santa Fe Dr.
Encinitas, Ca 92024
Online: plantpowerfastfood.com

Tender Greens
Count on Tender Greens for seasonal menu items using locally sourced produce. Choose a main and how you’d like it served: on a plate, sandwich or salad. Enjoy patio seating, fresh ingredients and affordable prices.

Menu highlights: Fresh roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, super fresh salads piled high.
Allergy Friendly Features: Find an online menu for each location with detailed allergen info, recommendations for salad dressings without allergens and warnings about items with possible cross-contamination.

4 locations: UTC, Mission Valley, Liberty Station and Downtown
Online: tendergreens.com

photo: Ryan H. via Yelp

Everything at this North County gem is made gluten-free. Nothing on the menu contains corn or soy either, so this is a haven for those with food allergies. They also boast vegan and dairy free items. Order at the counter and enjoy eating without a care in the bright, cheery dining area with friendly staff. You’ll love the freedom of being able to order anything from the menu filled with comfort food.

Menu Highlights: Baguettes, quiche, soups. Don’t miss the bakery counter brimming with apple and mixed berry pies and tons of cupcake choices: lemon, raspberry coconut, strawberry with divine icing.
Allergy Friendly Features: No gluten, corn or soy used. Many items can be made dairy free. Celiac safe.

2 locations: Encinitas and Rancho Bernardo (note, they are closed on Mondays)
Online: 2good2b.com

Phil’s BBQ
Sit down at a booth, enjoy the game on one of the many big screens and relax with a huge plate of ribs. Phil’s acclaimed BBQ can be safely enjoyed by those allergic to egg, nuts, dairy, fish and gluten. When ordering, let staff know of allergens and how you’d like food handled and plated.

Good to know: Phil’s sauce is too spicy for many kids. Ask for sauce on the side.

Menu Highlights: Ribs, slaw, pulled pork, Phil’s BBQ sauce
Allergy Friendly Features: They have a dedicated fryer that handles freshly cut fries only. Most items on the menu can be prepared to meet allergy needs. Review their allergy menu before heading to the restaurant.

Locations: Sports Arena, San Marcos, Santee, Rancho Bernardo
Online: philsbbq.net

True Food Kitchen
You’re in good hands when ordering at True Food Kitchen. The menu clearly notes gluten-free and vegan choices. Knowledgeable waitstaff help customize your meal to accommodate allergies. Watch chefs prepare fresh, delicious meals in their open floor plan and open kitchen.

Menu highlights: Several vegan pizzas served flatbread style (gluten-free crust may be subbed in for any pizza on the menu). Their kid menu includes burgers, pizzas and sandwich options.
Allergy Friendly Features: Peanut free restaurant, When alerted of an allergy, kitchen uses separate utensils and prep area. Menu clearly labeled.

2 locations: Mission Valley, UTC
Online: truefoodkitchen.com

photo: Helene S. via Yelp 

Starry Lane Bakery
This dedicated facility, free of all of the top 10 food allergens, is a big winner with families dealing with allergies. The bakery carries 10 different cupcake flavors daily as well as scones, fresh fruit tortes, cinnamon rolls and breads. If you have a kid with allergies, make a special day out and enjoy their warm, welcoming atmosphere and a children’s table filled with crayons, books and board games.

Menu highlights: Pretzel buns, specialty cupcakes, holiday-themed pies and cookies
Allergy Friendly Features: Strict policies against outside food or drink. Eat safely without cross contamination. Full ingredient list available online

3925 4th Ave.
San Diego Ca 92103
Phone: 619-328-0500
Online: starrylanebakery.com 

Photo: Christina W. via Yelp

Bricks Family Restaurant
We love that this restaurant, located in the LEGOLAND Hotel, takes on the responsibility to keep guests safe by asking each party as they arrive if anyone has a food allergy. If the answer is yes, the chef visits the table and gives a huge variety of options that will be prepared fresh. Breakfast is included with hotel reservations, but families can eat here without being registered hotel guests. Great for a special birthday celebration where your little one can eat anything and be surrounded by awesome LEGO decor!

Menu highlights from the regular buffet: Made-to-order omelette station and kid-sized buffet station. Allergen free muffins and pancakes.
Allergy Friendly Features: Well-trained wait staff and kitchen staff. Chef speaks directly to table to accommodate allergies. Food is made fresh to order to keep guests safe.

5885 The Crossings Dr.
Carlsbad, Ca 92008
Phone: 760-444-5623
Online: legoland.com/hoteldining

photo: Bean Sprouts

Bean Sprouts Cafe
Located within The New Children’s Museum downtown, this awesome cafe offers playful, healthful options with kids in mind. The cafe even won the Best Food Allergy Innovation Award! They cater to kiddos with food allergies or diet preferences by offering vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, casein-free, nut-free, egg-free, and soy-free menu items. Choose sandwiches cut into creative, enticing shapes with names like Flutterbite and Grilledzilla. Pizza, hummus and fun snacks and treats are available too.

Menu Highlights: Their Imaginnibbles menu is at kid height. The Sunbutter and organic jam sandwich is an instant crowd-pleaser.
Allergy Friendly features: Online access to allergen info.  Safe choices available for nut-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegan and gluten-free.

200 W. Island Ave.
San Diego, Ca 92101
Online:  beansprouts.com/cafe

––Cherie Gough

Where do you take kiddos with food allergies to dine out in San Diego? Share with other parents in the comments.


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