2 Dietary Restrictions Satisfied by Mexican Restaurant Delights

10 September 2015
 Categories: Food & Cooking, Articles


If you recently eliminated a common food ingredient from your diet by choice or due to a health problem, then you are likely learning that eating out is tough when you have dietary restrictions. Cooking and eating at home every night can become boring night after night, so it is important to learn what you can and cannot eat at popular restaurants. One type of restaurant that can have a surprising number of options for people with dietary restrictions is the Mexican restaurant. Read on to find out just what Mexican dishes you can eat when you must eat a gluten-free diet or are vegan. 

1. Gluten-Free

When you have a gluten intolerance, you can't grab a burger with a bun, eat pizza, or enjoy a bowl of pasta at your favorite Italian eatery. You can, however, enjoy many options at a Mexican restaurant, where bread is not commonly served and you usually won't find a bowl of pasta. Instead, tortillas and rice are featured in many meals, and both are typically gluten-free. 

Mexican menu items that are typically gluten-free include:

  • Corn tortilla chips and dips. As long as you ensure the tortilla chips served are made of corn and not flour, you can indulge in the chips guilt-free. Salsa, cheese dips, and guacamole are great dipping sauces that don't contain wheat. 
  • Tacos and burritos. Taco shells are typically made of corn, so filled with chicken, beef and/or beans, this is one entree you can eat without worry. Soft tortillas are often made of wheat flour, but some restaurants do offer soft corn tortillas instead. 
  • Enchiladas. If you prefer a plated meal, enchiladas with a side of beans and rice is a great option. Enchiladas are soft corn tortillas stuffed with meat or beans, covered in red pepper sauce, then baked or fried. 

You can even end your gluten-free Mexican meal with a desert of flan, which is a Mexican custard that is often served with a bit of caramel sauce. When you are unsure whether a menu item obtains gluten or not, don't be afraid to ask questions. While the above dishes are typically gluten-free, you can often find many others that are, as well. 

2. Vegan

If you decided to eliminate animal products from your diet, then don't think that any restaurant that has items you can eat must have the word "vegan" in its name. Mexican restaurants are great places to find naturally vegan menu items, and they are one of the best places to find a protein-packed vegan meal, unlike other restaurants where you must order only side dishes or green salads. The bean is a great vegan protein source that, when coupled with rice, forms a nutritionally complete protein. 

Vegan Mexican menu items include:

  • Any tortilla chip and many dips. Tortilla chips are usually made with just oil and corn or flour. Salsa and guacamole are great vegan dip options. 
  • Bean-filled tacos or burritos. The safest beans to include in your tacos or burritos are any that are served whole, which can include black beans or pinto beans. If you see re-fried beans on the menu, ask how they are prepared. While many restaurants now make them with no added fat, some traditional-style Mexican restaurants do add animal fat when preparing them. Also, skip the cheese and sour cream, but instead add guacamole, pico de gallo, and lots of fresh salsa. 
  • Any plated meal prepared fresh. Most plated meals, such as enchiladas, allow you to choose whether you would like beef, chicken, or pork. You can simply ask the chef to substitute beans for any dish that features meat. You can also ask for extra veggies, like onions and peppers, to add extra flavor to your meal.

While not every Mexican restaurant serves them, if you see Respados on the menu, then you are safe to order one, because it is a classic Mexican shaved ice treat, similar to a snow cone. 

If you have new dietary restrictions, then it may seem tough to find items you can eat on many restaurant menus. Check out a local Mexican restaurant in Tucson AZ if you are following a gluten-free or vegan eating plan, and you may be surprised at just how much they have to offer on their menu that you really can eat.