I explored Philadelphia with food allergies for my friend’s bachelorette last month. We spent the weekend eating and celebrating our way all over the city. I flew into Philly from Boston on Friday after school. Since it was an end-of-day flight, I made sure to ask to pre-board. American Airlines is not known for allowing this accommodation, but I’ve found that it also depends on who you talk to. Luckily they were nice enough to allow it. The flight was quick and easy and I arrived at the hotel just in time to head out for dinner.
The friend that we were there to celebrate is someone who I grew up with and have written about before. She is incredible with my food allergies. She is one of the few people I trust to cook for me. For this weekend, she gave me a list of restaurants to call ahead. You can even see the process here.
Let me tell you about the edible highlights…
Friday Night Dinner: Caffe Casta Diva
This cute little Italian restaurant was able to accommodate my food allergies without a problem. The week before I called ahead to check in and make sure they would be able to accommodate them. I spoke to the owner who told me that it wouldn’t be a problem, which was true. When the server came over to take our order and I explained and gave my card, she said, “Okay, great. We have some of these hanging in the kitchen for a few regulars. No problem.” I was delighted with this response for two main reasons: 1. Seeing a chef card wasn’t new or unexpected 2. She already understood the severity and clearly the kitchen did as well. I was able to safely enjoy the Spinach Tagliatelle. It was delicious!
Saturday Brunch: Mission Taqueria
Mexican tends to be more challenging for my food allergies (think mole sauce and peanut oil) but I had called ahead and was told they would be able to work with my food allergies. This restaurant was beautifully decorated and a fun atmosphere for brunch! As someone who is an avid coffee drinker, I was disappointed that the coffee beans were roasted with peanuts (yes…true fact) and had a warning on the package (according to my server). This is why you ALWAYS ask (even coffee… seriously)! Especially after a night out, we were ready to devour every dish on the menu. This is when flexibility comes into play though, because there was really only one food option that was safe for me. Thankfully I have always been an adaptable eater, and I am usually thrilled to eat anything that I know should be safe. My one option was Huevos Rancheros, which was flavorful and filling!
Saturday Dinner: Mixto Restaurant
After a busy day of walking around the city, this unplanned dining spot is where we ended up on Saturday night. My friends and I were all congregated around the bar. Some of them had snacked along the way and were not hungry for a real dinner. I went and spoke to the maitre’d to ask if they could accommodate my allergies, since I had only snacked on what I had brought in my purse (of course my fave 88 Acres bars and some fruit). As I looked over the menu, I knew it would be another meal of great flexibility. The manger came and spoke to me. He looked at my chef card, brought it to the kitchen, then came back with answers. He said they could prepare some vegetables, avocado, and rice. He also offered grilled chicken, but I decided to stick with the rice and veggies. They were very nice about it and I felt safe with everything they offered. When the rice came out, I doubled checked about the basil infused olive oil (you just never know, so I ask if I have any questions). The manager double checked and said everything was all set! Although it was a bit random, the food was fresh and I was hungry.
The other girls that spent the weekend celebrating with us were kind and understanding about my food allergies. I hadn’t met all of them before, but they were wonderful about not making it a huge deal or focus, and knowing that it was something to take seriously. It was a fabulous celebration and now we are all looking forward to the BIG day! Only a few more weeks… :)