Are you travelling to London with food allergies? Good news, you’ve got a lot of options! London only seems to be getting better and better for food allergy folks. Over the last five years, I’ve lived in London for 10 months, and visited four times since moving away. Every time I go back, more places have allergy-friendly options, clearer allergy policies and ingredient lists, and are more open to discussing my dietary needs. I even ate Indian food, and I never eat Indian food (well only at my favourite restaurant in Dubai)!
The last time I was in London was in August to see the world athletics. This meant we were going to be spending time in the stands, so I had to pack my own food. This turned out to be super easy because the grocery stores are full of allergy-friendly, gluten-free, and vegan options. We stayed at a hotel, so I did not have access to a kitchen and relied on grocery store food (I knew this would be ok since I lived in London and had my ‘go to’ products – this is not something I would do in a new city).
Allergy Friendly Grocery Shopping in London
I will admit I am a total grocery snob and LOVE Waitrose! When people go to London they want to visit Buckingham Palace or the National Museum, I’m like drop me off at the closest Waitrose, and I’ll see you in a few hours! Since moving away from London, the selection of ‘free from’ foods has doubled! I found most packaging well marked with the top 14 allergens bolded.
Another change I saw in London in the last few years was all the health food stores popping up. What I was surprised by was how many dairy alternatives are now available. All of the food stores I visited with ready-made food had the allergens marked, but the cross-contact still made me a little nervous. The amount of allergy-friendly snacks I saw at each place was mind-boggling!
Allergy Friendly Restaurants in London
We only had a few opportunities to eat out this time. Each place we went to had a separate allergy menu, and the servers spent time to understand my allergies. A sign they took my allergies seriously was at most places they came back with questions from the kitchen. Thumbs up!!
Here are the places I ate:
This place is a haunted pub with delicious grub! I had fish with mashed potatoes. I couldn’t have the sauce they typically served with the dish, so they improvised and provided me with lemon and clarified butter. We called ahead about my allergies, and they had their allergy menu ready.
I would 100% recommend this place. After looking through their menu, with a few minor modifications, I am pretty sure there is something for everyone. The best part about this place is, it’s super hard to find, so it’s like you have found a hidden gem (even though it’s pretty famous).
I ate here with Emma (blogger behind Free From Farmhouse) after an unsuccessful try at an allegedly allergy friendly frozen yoghurt shop (Yorica). What happened at Yorica, was they did not want to share their ingredient list with me. After explaining that my allergies encompass more than the top 14 they finally showed us the ingredients, which just stated rice milk. I have never found a rice milk I could drink, and after asking them to specify which brand, I learned that the milk indeed had sunflower oil and I couldn’t have their fro-yo. So we chose pizza instead.
Luckily Pizza Pilgrims is around the corner, and I knew them from living in London. They only use olive oil and were very good ensuring my meal would be allergy friendly, a relief after the way I was treated at Yorica. It was also super fun to break bread with Emma, who I have been working with for over a year, but never met until then! (And it was fun to know I was with someone else who carries an Epi lol)
I will be writing a post for this because it deserves one of its own. Teaser: one of the most allergy-friendly places I’ve ever been!
After a long morning of watching athletics, we headed to Spitalfields, a covered market in Shoreditch. Spitalfields has a lot of restaurants and food trucks, so we knew we would find something.
We chose to eat at Canteen after checking out their menu, which has a bold allergy warning and their food seemed simple enough to modify if need be. Most of the menu items had been prepared ahead of time using sunflower oil, but they were able to make me and my dad fresh fish using olive oil, wilted greens, and a tomato salad. It was delicious, and as a bonus, it was much healthier than what I originally wanted.
The waiter was accommodating at finding us a solution, and I was more than happy to eat the off-menu meal they prepared since it was going to be diligently safe.
I flipping love Potbelly; it is pretty much what I survived on as a college student. So when we saw Potbelly, we just knew we had to eat there. They have a nice big allergy warning as you walk in and they dedicate one staff member to handle your order and go through all the ingredients with you. They changed their gloves and even used fresh ingredients to avoid cross-contact. The milk products and egg are kept in the same area as the other ingredients, but all nuts are in a separate area and sealed.
Overall London is a great city for managing food allergies. Allergies do not feel foreign to the service industry, and for the most part, you are treated very pleasantly.
Other notable places I’ve eaten at in London include:
- Pizza Express
- Nine Elms Tavern
- Cafe Caldesi (my favourite place when I lived in London)
- Cinnamon Club
Share your favourite places London eateries in the comments below!