Using Yelp Reviews

Because I don’t react to being glutened, I rely on outside information to find restaurants I want to try. Frustrated[1] with searching for terms like “GF” or “gluten free,” I began using the term “celiac” to filter reviews on Yelp. Although it can be exciting to find several “celiac” reviews, I have to read each one carefully.

Not all reviews are positive.

Sometimes the reviewer says something like, “If you have celiac, don’t eat here!” Good information and I stay away from that restaurant!

Not all reviews are relevant.

The reviewer may only know someone who has celiac and mentions it in passing: “I should tell my sister, who has celiac.” Not enough information on its own for me to put the restaurant on my might-be-worth-a-try list. Other reviews are second-hand accounts, and often don’t say if the friend ate safely.

The ideal review is personal.

I’m always looking for a review from someone who has celiac disease (or other gluten intolerance) and says they have eaten without getting glutened[2].

Also great are reviews that specifically indicate measures taken to prevent cross-contamination, such as separate kitchen areas or separate fryers. Restaurants with owners or staff that have (or know someone with) celiac are more likely to understand cross-contamination, so that is useful information, as well.

Of course, seeing a Yelp review for a restaurant that is certified by GIG or GREAT Kitchens would be fantastic, but I’ve personally never seen such a review.

Bottom Line

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s all I can do on my own. Help me by adding restaurants and cities to Celiac Safe Eats, so we can all have a better, crowdsourced way to locate safe places to eat!

[1] I’m sure you know: There are way too many fad-GF entries drowning out the establishments that understand how to prevent cross-contamination.

[2] Of course, there are no guarantees. Even if someone eats safely one time, it doesn’t mean they will eat safely on a different day. We always have to be vigilant, ask questions, and trust our instincts.


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