I grew up in the city of Portland, Oregon. When I was nineteen and newly married, I moved to the wonderful city of Boise, Idaho. Talk about night and day differences – especially when it comes to alternative eating choices!

In Portland, it would seem, that just around every corner, there is a store, a restaurant or some type of eatery that offers allergy free fare. If you order something vegan to avoid dairy and eggs in Portland, they don’t blink twice at you and stare like you just sprouted a third shoulder.

But they do in Boise.

Because in Boise, we are surrounded by cattle, cattle and, well, more cattle.

So when you say ‘vegan’, they think you are some weirdo fruitcake.

Which you’re not. Well, not in THAT way, anyway.

So it’s been an adventure finding places we can safely dine out and who take us seriously.

And now I will share four of those places of dining pleasure with you.

1. P.F. Chang’s – The BIG TIP I have for dining here is that you call ahead at least by noon the day you will be dining to speak with the Kitchen Manager. While they do offer a gluten free/vegetarian menu, they do marinate their meats in egg and dairy. By calling ahead, you guarantee that they can set your meats aside unmarinated. Also, upon arrival, the Kitchen Manager will meet with you personally to insure that your meal is made to its allergy free specifications. Keep in mind that the fried rice does contain eggs, so you will want to order the rice without the eggs if you are allergic. I highly recommend this restaurant. The food is delicious and even though I have visted them in different states, the service is the same: outstanding.

2. Texas Roadhouse – While this place of dining does not have a gluten free or allergy free menu, they are very accomodating when it comes to prepping for someone with certain needs. For example, I usually order a steak, no seasoning, a salad, sans the ‘bad’ toppings (and I bring my own dressing), and a plain baked or sweet potato (I add s&p and sometimes bring my own Earth Balance spread). I always ask the server to make sure the cook cleans my part of the grill prior to preparing my steak. If the server looks at me like I’m crazy, I simply ask if they don’t understand my needs, to talk to the kitchen manager. I have never had a reaction after dining at the Roadhouse. Great prices and great steaks, too!

3. Brick 29 Bistro – For you local yocals, this is THE place to go eat allergy free! Yes, it is expensive, but the food…oh, the food is sublime! The chef’s wife has multiple food allergies, so he is a pro (literally) at preparing something fabulous without the allergens. I have been known to customize my order by simply ordering braised chicken (which you can slice with a fork, man oh man!), fingerling potatoes (served in olive oil and garlic) and sauteed green beans (delicious!). They also offer steaks, an out of this world tenderloin and ‘safe’ bacon salad (with an emulsified dressing you would swear had dairy in, but it doesn’t), and a variety of other things that the chef is willing to whip up just for you. For the gluten free only crowd, they do offer a flourless chocolate cake and their coffee is out of this world. Just be sure to tell your server of your allergy needs and they will work with you – with pleasure!

4. Subway – Rumor has it that Subway is going to be serving gluten free bread soon. But in the mean time, you can get an awesome salad that is free of allergens! So far, I have had great experiences with the staff knowing to switch out their gloves and keep my ingredients on a separate sheet of waxed paper. I do bring my own dressing, but you can top your salad with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. I usually do a mix of greens, veggies, grilled chicken and bacon. And you can stand there and watch them make it, ensuring nothing goes into your salad that will make you sick. Grab a bag of plain Lay’s potato chips, a cup of plain iced tea (or safe pop if you partake) and you’ve got a great if ‘on the run’ lunch!

I will post more restaurant tips in the future. Because we know that it is so nice to have someone else wait on us every once in a while.

Where is your favorite allergy free place to dine? I would love to know!

Happy Eating Out!