The new city that I am so lucky to call home. Complete with Big Ten Football, miles of Lake Michigan beaches that remind me of home, and the best cuisine that a foodie could ask for. The Windy City keeps blowing me away!
Picollo Sogno, Italian for “little dream” lives up to its name in the Fulton River District. This Chef Tony (@tony_priolo) creation has an intimate atmosphere, delicious dishes and attentive waitstaff. With such caution given to my allergies, and plenty of gluten free substitutions, if you’re looking for a wonderful new dining experience in Chicago, Picollo Sogno is your spot.
Your dinner awaits: https://www.piccolosognorestaurant.com/
Offshoots of their flagship location, Au Cheval, are scattered around the city in neighborhoods including Wicker Park, Old Town, and The Magnificent Mile. This fast and casual dining experience features only two meal options – burgers and french fries. Because there is such a selective menu, it’s easy to ensure that there are no nuts in the facility. Everything here is safe for me – including the milkshakes! Have your vanilla or chocolate shake spiked with a shot of baileys for a cool summer buzz.
Get your hands on the best burger I’ve ever had: http://smallcheval.com/
My very first Chinese takeout! MAK (Modern Asian Kitchen) Restaurant is a reinvented fast, fresh, and flavorful spot in Wicker Park specializing in modern twists of Chinese favorites. MAK prides itself on their family roots and “delicious flavors with a conscious.” MAK Restaurant is a nut free kitchen (may exclude some desserts) and takes special precautions to accommodate other allergens like fish and gluten. When ordering takeout for the first time, I was thrilled with the level of caution that MAK Restaurant took to help me feel safe. Able to enjoy almost anything on the menu, I had to try a little bit of everything.
Order for carryout, dine in, or delivery: https://www.makrestaurant.com
Summer House Santa Monica
This California inspired oasis in Lincoln Park will have you yearning for summer time. The servers are knowledgeable, the kitchen follows a strict allergy protocol, and their seasonal rotating menus never disappoint. Shown above, allergy orders are flagged and labeled for your safety. This versatile restaurant was voted one of the city’s best boozy brunches, but is also a staple of mine with visiting friends for a casual appetizer or polished dinner. Complete your meal with a glass of their signature drink, Rosé!
Make a reservation in advance: https://www.summerhousesm.com/chicago/
You can’t leave The Windy City without having a classic Chicago Dog. Portillo’s has an extensive allergen and nutrition guide on their website, so take a peak below before planning your visit. They encourage their patrons to always inform the staff about their allergies before ordering, but they have a menu that’s largely free of nuts all together! And best of all, the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry shakes/malts are all labeled as nut free. Enjoy!
Allergy/Nutrition Guide: https://www.portillos.com/assets/1/6/NutritionAllergen_2.10.20.pdf
Delicious bites and stunning views. Inspired by the Italian Riveria, any visit to Pizzeria Portofino is a memorable experience as you dine alongside the Chicago River. Before even having the chance to mention it myself, our waiter asked about any allergies at the table. Dietary restrictions are taken seriously, and the staff is more than willing to accommodate your needs. Gluten-free cauliflower pizza crusts are available upon request.
Weekend tables usually book one month out: https://www.pizzeriaportofino.com/
American Girl Place Cafe
(Images from American Girl)
Traveling with young kids? Or just feeling a little nostalgic yourself? Much like Disney World, the American Girl Place gives special attention to food allergies because of the clientele they cater towards. Their menus are largely free of nut products, and the waitstaff does their best to accommodate other allergies too.
Can you guess how many American Girl dolls I had growing up? https://www.americangirl.com/retail/chicago
In the heart of River North comes another award-winner from Chef Tony! Inspired by their grandmothers, Nonnina comes as a delicious Italian feast in downtown Chicago. As with all of Chef Tony’s restaurants, the waitstaff and kitchen paid special attention to my dietary needs. Neighboring the Chicago Riverwalk, Nonnina is the perfect date night spot to enjoy with your significant other. Highly recommend the Buratta Con Pomodorini (pictured) to any cheese lovers. I have searched the city for the best take on this appetizer, and Nonnina has one of my favorites.
Dive right in: http://nonninachicago.com/
You can always find me here in between classes. With locations scattered around the greater Chicago area, you’re likely to find a Foxtrot Market wherever your weekend getaway takes you. Foxtrot is a combination of a breakfast cafe, grab-and-go market, and happy hour venue, offering everything from breakfast tacos and coffee to charcuterie boards and wine. Their menu labels nut free (NF), gluten free (GF), and vegan (V) options alongside each food item. Whether you need a morning pick-me-up or an afternoon cool down, Foxtrot has what you need.
Something for everyone… https://foxtrotco.com/
Wheat’s End Café
(Images from @wheatsendcafe)
I have not yet had the privilege to dine here myself, but I have heard nothing but roaring reviews. Wheat’s End Café, founded by women whose close friend has Celiac Disease, is an entirely gluten free daytime restaurant in Lakeview. Their menu, specializing in redesigned brunch, additionally labels dairy free options. Temporarily closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am excited to report back after taking the first bite myself.
Open until 3pm daily, closed Mondays: https://wheatsendcafe.com/
And for Dessert…
DONUT mind if I do! Beacon Doughnuts is an entirely vegan bakery right in Lincoln Park. This adorable walk-up shop offers a variety of delicious classics alongside some reinvented rotating specials. Expect to see tempting creations like S’mores, Blueberry Pancakes, Birthday Cake, Coconut Cream, Lavender Vanilla, and my personal favorite, Double Chocolate Sea Salt.
Make sure to pre-order your dozen before they sell out: https://www.beacondoughnuts.com
This traditional Argentinian ice cream parlor, with five locations throughout Chicago, invites you into enjoy one of their seasonal rotating flavors, crunchy toppings, and a freshly made waffle cones worry free. Their facilities are dedicated-free from nut products, and dairy-free sorbets are tucked away in safe, separate coolers. Chocolate, blackberry, pumpkin, piña colada, mint chocolate chip… One scoop of each please! Gummy bears, sprinkles, caramel drizzle… Pile it on! With storefronts that are open all year long, you know where to find me.
Their website states loud and proud that they’re allergy friendly: https://www.friogelato.com/
Although Instagram famous for their loaded boozy hot chocolates, I’m at one of the two Bombobar locations for their Bomboloni doughnut. The airy Italian doughnut is served warm with your choice of injectable filling. Originating in the West Loop and later expanding to Old Town, Bombobar’s menu carefully labels all items that are dairy, gluten, and nut free. Bring along your pup! Dairy-free gelato & Woof Cream can be served on the patio to fluffy friends.
How do you Bombo? : http://bombobar.com/
Are all these allergy-conscious options in the Windy City blowing you away too? The more I explore the city, the more I will update this Chicago guide, so keep a look out for more suggestions! As always, my DMs are open for any questions, comments, concerns, or your own restaurant recommendations!
DISCLAIMER: These restaurants have been safe for me and my allergies, but these recommendations should only serve as a starting point for your dining experience. Please do your own research before enjoying.