At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

How Do I Choose the Best Lactose-Free Restaurants?

Kristeen Moore
Kristeen Moore

Lactose is a sugar contained in all cow’s milk products, which can cause undesirable symptoms if you are sensitive to this particular ingredient. If you are on a diet that excludes the sugar, then you will also want to dine out in places that do not serve lactose-containing food items. The best lactose-free restaurants serve meals that do not contain any milk products whatsoever. In order to be certain, you should request detailed menus to ensure that a particular meal of interest is prepared without lactose. Although lactose-free restaurants are the safest places to dine out if you are on this particular diet, you can still eat at other establishments so long as you know what ingredients are used in certain meals.

Legitimate lactose-free restaurants specifically state that their menu items are completely free of milk. Such establishments do not serve foods prepared with cheese or butter, as well as those that are fried in milk products. Instead, some of the menu items might be cooked with heart-healthy alternatives such as olive or canola oil. A lactose-free restaurant might also offer its customers rice or soy milk as an alternative to the traditional version derived from cows. An establishment that uses any dairy products is not considered a true lactose-free dining place.

A waitress serving a customer at a lactose-free restaurant.
A waitress serving a customer at a lactose-free restaurant.

The downside to looking for lactose-free restaurants is that they are outnumbered by eating establishments that widely utilize cow’s milk. Still, you can eat out at any restaurant so long as you look for meals that do not contain any dairy products. In order to exercise on the side of caution, you might also request additional ingredient information from your waiter if you are unsure about a specific menu item. A restaurant that does not readily give you such requested information should be avoided because you do not want to take the risk of eating foods that can irritate your condition.

A lactose-free restaurant.
A lactose-free restaurant.

Obvious products are avoidable if you are on a lactose-free diet, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. There are some types of food items, however, which are also surprisingly made with milk, so they will contain lactose. Such foods include bread, pasta, and fried dishes. Although not all items in these categories are made with milk, it is important that you check with your waiter in advance so that you do not experience any unwanted symptoms from eating your meal. Grilled and sautéed meats are preferable over fried versions, as well as those cooked with potential milk containing sauces.

You might also Like

Discussion Comments


I always check the menu of a restaurant before I go there. I have had too many experiences where I go out to eat and find that there is nothing I can eat, or only ridiculous things like salads without dressing. I want to know that I can enjoy my dining experience before I commit to it.


It can be really really hard to find a place to eat if you eat a lactose free diet. Most restaurant bathe their food in milk, butter and cheese. In this country we like all things cow all the time.

But there are usually one or two options on any menu, and if you get creative you can ask for dishes to be prepared without lactose. Don't expect to get fettuccine alfredo, but you can get potatoes without butter or nachos without cheese.

Asian restaurants tend to be really good about being lactose-free. Asian cooking makes very little use of milk in any form and you are likely to find more lactose free dishes on a menu of Eastern cuisine then you will find just about anywhere.
Post your comments
Forgot password?
    • A waitress serving a customer at a lactose-free restaurant.
      A waitress serving a customer at a lactose-free restaurant.
    • A lactose-free restaurant.
      By: Andrejs Nikiforovs
      A lactose-free restaurant.
    • Some chefs avoid using dairy products for ethical reasons.
      By: lidante
      Some chefs avoid using dairy products for ethical reasons.