Fourth Estate / Priscilla Yun

A review of the best allergen-free eats in the DMV


As someone who has learned to live with a severe dairy allergy, at times it can be difficult to find a place to eat out that takes into account my allergy and tastes good. I have done my research and I am happy to say I have found a handful of places that are extremely competent about food allergies without compromising quality. 

For a night out in Washington, D.C.:

Jaleo is an upscale Latin American restaurant that serves amazing cuisine all “tapas style,” founded by famous chef José Andrés. Upon arrival the server will ask if you have a food allergy and then hand you a menu corresponding to that allergy. It made me extremely happy to see that they had a menu designed for people like me. 

The dish I recommend is papas bravas, potatoes with spicy red sauce and mayo. At first I wasn’t sold on the mayo aspect of it, but they are absolutely to die for. This dish is dairy, nut and soy free. 

For my vegan friends, I highly recommend the famous olive balls and eggplant crispers. Each tapas range from eight to 15 dollars, so be prepared to spend a little money, but I believe it’s worth every cent. 

Zaytinya is another upscale dining restaurant with an elevated atmosphere reminiscent of Greece, and was also founded by Andrés. I will admit the decor is on point, but I did struggle a bit with my allergy here. Make sure that you say you have an allergy and the server will get you the allergen-friendly bread, which was surprisingly delicious and free! 

The food dish I would recommend is the hummus for starters and then for the main course the falafel. Both dishes are vegan friendly and contain no dairy. Although the elevated atmosphere might make you think your pocket will hurt, Zaytinya dishes are surprisingly inexpensive and with all the free pita bread you won’t end up spending much over $20. 

Fourth Estate / Alexis McCutchan

For a day trip:

Shoe’s Cup & Cork in Leesburg is a great hole-in-the-wall find right off of King Street. Its walls contain so much history — dating back to the 1800s when it was built, originally serving as the Leesburg Post Office. This quaint place offers not only amazing food, but also a great iced latte to pair with it. 

My personal go-to is roasted veggie hoagie and vanilla ice latte with almond milk. The dish and latte are both vegan and dairy free. The price is on the lower end for the amount of food and quality of taste you get. 

Metropolitan in downtown Annapolis is a cute two-story restaurant located off of West Street, with a phenomenal brunch. It’s extremely hard for a dairy-free person to find pancakes that are fluffy and don’t have a different texture like gluten-free pancakes do, but their coconut milk pancakes were incredible.

Fourth Estate / Alexis McCutchan

I can also recommend the truffle gnocchi as a starter. These dishes were vegan, gluten free, dairy free. The price was on the higher end for brunch, but not bad given how legendary their pancakes are.

Fourth Estate / Alexis McCutchan

Annapolis Ice Cream is an ice cream shop located in downtown Annapolis off main street. I have tried every single vegan ice cream they have in mainstream grocery stores, and nothing can compare to this ice cream. The consistency is great, the flavors are so yummy and it’s creamy, without hints of coconut or almond milk like many other vegan ice creams do. I would recommend getting the vegan chocolate chip flavor. 

Fourth Estate / Alexis McCutchan

Closest to campus:

Dulces Crepes is located just off Lee Highway. This cute and very instagrammable joint serves amazing vegan crepes from savory to sweet. My personal favorite is the vegan french toast and the banana crepe. This place stays open late, making it convenient for late-night cravings. 


Sensberry is a cute acai bowl restaurant, right off Main Street in Old Town. Their acai and freshness of fruit compares to no other place. They get fresh fruits every week and make a homemade chia pudding that goes into most of their acai bowls. 

My personal favorite is the magic bowl. The prices range from $11-$15 depending on the size and bowl you choose. Bowls are allergy friendly and diary free, gluten free, soy free and nut free.