Peanut-Free Guide to Austin, TX! [2019]

I recently got to travel with my husband to Austin, TX to visit some sweet friends who moved there & I had such a fantastic trip! I wanted to share my experience with eating out in Austin, shopping at their Central Market grocery store, and attending the famous Austin Roller Derby (which they kept peanut-free for me!) I’m sure I’ll be going back over the years, and as I do, I’ll update this or create an additional Peanut-Free Guide to Austin.

I only shopped at the Central Market Grocery on Lamar Blvd this trip, we went there our first day and I fell in love with the layout and vast selection of food! It was a magical grocery with lots to choose from, even for someone with an allergy!

Here were my favorite peanut-free product finds, and some photos of the inside of the store:

You may notice there are safe ice cream bites above! I’m going to request these in my local grocery stores in Louisville, KY because they were a hit with everyone, but also are the only safe dairy-based ice cream I’ve found before in stores! Side note: There is a safe Italian gelato brand I can find locally in Louisville at a store called Rainbow Blossom, but it isn’t always in stock, and it isn’t the same flavor as the typical ice cream I am used to and that I love, it’s more like sherbet. In 2019 I did discover the ice cream brand A La Mode, so that’s worth looking into, as well!

While there was no dedicated peanut-free or top 8 allergen free sit-in bakeries or restaurants in Austin, Better Bites is a top 8 free bakery that does strictly wholesale based out of Austin, TX and made the DELICIOUS cookie dough bites and cupcake pictured above. I had to share those evenly with my non-allergic husband, Paul, because they were so tasty! We went through 2 packs in 4 days! It truly was a vacation…we indulged!

I’d been to Austin once before and attended the Roller Derby there on a whim and had such a fun time that I wanted to take my friends and Paul to experience it! I got in touch with a man named Ross at the Palmer Events Center where it is hosted, and inquired about their concessions. He let me know there is food there and they do sell some candy snacks with peanuts, but that they’d be happy to pull the few peanut products they sell while I’m there if I could tell them the date, and they did! It was so fun! I did notice some children had mini snickers at one specific table which they brought in themselves, so I avoided that area once I saw it, but it was a huge success and I was so pleased with the events center & experience.

A few places we went where I didn’t run into any airborne peanut issues were: Bookwoman Book Store, the incredible Central Public Library, a tour at the State Capitol building, walking up and along the shops on Congress Avenue, the Blanton Museum and Bullock Museum, and even in my Lyft experiences. I would suggest if you use Lyft with a severe allergy, to not “share” it with other riders, in case they’re eating or bring in food with them.

I successfully ate out at restaurants/food trucks that I checked in with prior to going! Those were:

I had a lovely sit-down tea experience safely at the Guan Yin Chinese Tea House (I believe they’ve sadly now closed! Check, though!) where they don’t serve food, and also didn’t make it to the Cool Beans Food Truck or Zhi Tea House because we didn’t need to/have time to, but both places got back to me about not using/having peanuts. Of course, a restaurant or place not using peanuts is still much different than being certified allergen-free, so I wanted to point out the difference. There is still always a risk involved, I get to decide if I feel comfortable or not and understand there’s a risk so I try to limit eating out in general and always have my life-saving medication on me. 

My friend Ava and I learned how tricky it can be when eating out and asking about allergens on the spot without planning in advance during the trip, like I always do. I normally reach out weeks to months in advance before going on a vacation someplace, but we were out in Austin and saw a food truck that we thought about trying! She inquired in-person with the food truck asking if they used peanuts or any peanut ingredients, like peanut oil/flour, they said nope, none! Yay! Then we walked up to the menu and Paul and Ava both thankfully noticed the very first item listed on the food truck was a peanut noodle dish! We trusted what the man said, so this was a reminder to read the menu yourself and to really check thoroughly beforehand with staff and not trust someone on the spot, who may also just be working it and not know the menu well or be paying attention. I have said this in other blog posts but it is worth repeating, I prefer to write a restaurant/bar to get in writing what allergens they use, if they use peanuts, etc. I think people take more care in responding by writing and l like having that paper trail.  

One day for lunch I decided to eat an Amy’s frozen meal beforehand and skip eating at one restaurant we went to since they used a lot of vegan pre-made ingredients that I was unsure about (in terms of if the facilities used peanuts/nuts) it did look delicious though, and Paul loved what he got there, so if you are comfortable since they don’t use peanuts actively in the kitchen, it is called Citizen Eatery! I love having the option to eat a safe meal myself before, then go out with friends to a place without peanuts, and I’ll just get a tea or drink. It gives me peace of mind and I’m able to enjoy myself more!

All these places need to be contacted again before trusting, but this will hopefully help give you a head start if you’re in or going to Austin, TX with a food allergy! As always, this is not meant to ensure they’re still peanut-less or 100% safe, I always view eating out as taking a risk, because it is, and therefore I personally try to keep it to a minimum.

I do strategize with what I get off the menu when I’m out as well, I will go for things not based as much off of flavor or my own taste preferences, but I rank them by what has more limited ingredients and which may be less likely (in my experience/mind) to be cross-contaminated. An example is if there’s a quinoa, steamed veggie and bean dish and then a veggie burger with a bun and aioli sauce, I’d go with the quinoa, veggie and bean dish since it seems like less processed foods and less components. I know from grocery shopping that often breads aren’t safe, and are on commonly on shared equipment with allergens, and same with sauces, so the simpler the dish the better. This is a completely made up strategy by me, but I wanted to share! It doesn’t mean the beans I ate weren’t from a bulk section that was in contact with peanuts, because they could be, but I’ve found in terms of having a reaction while eating out that going for the simpler menu item approach helps me have less reactions.

If you go to Austin, have so much fun! There’s truly such a foodie scene there and TONS of options, as well as plenty of non-food activities to do like seeing the bats, going to many museums, art galleries, outdoor sculpture gardens, botanical gardens, places to kayak, and more! 

XO

Zoë

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