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Eating gluten free in Mexico proved to be one of the simplest challenges I’ve experienced to date while traveling. This is the land of corn and rice. Every so often you find an annoying place or dish that insists on using flour tortillas, and you always have to pass on the delicious tortas (sandwiches).
BUT there are so many options that you can eat that are gluten free in Mexico. It more than makes up for just a few dishes being off the table.
To help you remember how to eat gluten free in Mexico, I’m giving you my tips using the TACOS method.
:::Commence drooling just thinking about tacos:::
T- Triple T. Or everything delicious in Mexico that’s gluten free starts with a T.
Here’s me eating some nom worthy Chilaquiles at Que Seria de Mí.
T- Triple T.
Tacos, tostadas, tortillas, totopos. A high percentage of Mexican cuisine is made using corn tortillas. Tacos have a smothering of deliciousness wedged in the middle of a tortilla. Tostadas have a smorgasbord of toppings flopped on top of a fried tortilla. Totopos have a slew of tantalizing fixings spread on top. Tamales are baked and stuffed with scrumptious morsels. Stick with the T.
I could ramble on for decades about my love affair with avocados. I’m still seriously considering moving to Mexico or Central America purely to be closer to cheap, ripe, delicious avocados year round. Whether they are sliced with a little salt and pepper or mashed into guac. The more avo the better.
But this category is about way more than just avocados. It’s a category to contain all the extras served with Mexican cuisine. Restaurants typically serve accompaniments on the side of the dishes they serve. Most of these are gluten free! You are often given fresh avocado, salsas, pickled onions or veggies, fresh onions, cilantro, peppers and so much more!
This gives you the opportunity to make each bite uniquely delicious. How cool is that? One taco can be with spicy salsa and guac, the other could be with onions and cheese, another could highlight the salsa verde on the table! The options are limitless.
It really brings me back to the Thai spices and sauces that I found on every plastic table accompanying dishes on the street.
The majority of these delicacies will be gluten free unless they are weird. The sauces and veggies are typically made from fresh & local ingredients, which IMHO (Mom-> that stands for “In my humble opinion.”) is the best way to eat gluten free!
C is for Cheap!
Some of the cheapest options available in Mexico are gluten free!
Take tacos, for example. When you get away from the taco tourist traps, you can often find 3 for $1 USD tacos or 5 for $1.50 USD. Sure they are smaller typically around 4 inches in diameter. But at that price you can get all you need! And they are homemade and fresh!
Doesn’t that sound way more appetizing than eating remade tourist garbage that is often wickedly under seasoned and bland and filled with glutinous preservatives for $5-10 USD?
Stick with local stands. They are often cheaper, more delicious, and often the safest places to eat authentically and gluten freely in Mexico.
O is for Ordering!
Finding and ordering safe food in Mexico isn’t too complicated with a little knowledge and research. A couple key phrases will get you far.
One hint: I ALWAYS asked if the tortillas were corn. ALWAYS. The one time I didn’t ask before ordering, my meal came out on flour tortillas and it went to waste and had to be remade. JUST ASK!
“No puedo tenet el trigo/horvina de trigo/horvina” I can’t have wheat/wheat flour/flour.
“Esto contiene gluten?” Does this contain gluten? (Or substitute with trigo or horvina)
“Tengo una alergia a….” I have an allergy to… pick gluten, wheat or flour depending on what you’re discussing.
S is for Social.
Food, for me, has always been a social experience, or at least I aim for it to be. Even if I am eating alone, I people watch or I strike up conversation with my waiter or the person preparing my food. At the bare minimum, it enhances my experience. On another level, it helps to get you empathy. If people have chatted with you and gotten to know you a touch, in my experience, they are more likely to care whether the food they are about to serve you is going to kill you or not.
Making friends in food settings can be priceless with food allergies. The people preparing the food are your greatest enemies or allies. They are the only ones who know EXACTLY what is being put into your dish! They know cooking techniques, ingredients, seasonings, you name it!
For an incredibly in-depth guide to eating gluten free in Mexico, including info about all-inclusive resorts, where to buy gluten free products, and hidden gluten containing seasonings or sauces please check out my friend Jodi from LegalNomads’ Gluten Free Mexico Guide She even has locally translated cards for sale that you can show restaurants staff that fully explain your allergy (they are specially tailored to each destination’s cuisine!).
MAKE FRIENDS WITH THEM GOD DAMNIT!
Don’t get needy though, remember that these people are people. If your plan is to exploit their knowledge then get the hell out of there and go have a long talk with yourself in the mirror.
I am saying to make friends with them, because they are in an industry that is meant to encourage human interaction. They typically are interested in their customers and are open to communicating. If you’re interested in getting to know a side of the local culture of a place, the best place is to start with the people that make the food.
Check out Jodi’s post on Legal Nomads about her experience getting to know Mrs. Pa who owns a delicious smoothie cart in Chiang Mai. (Warning it may bring you to tears.)
Eating gluten free in Mexico can be fairly simple, however, I have heard a lot of chatter about a lot of seasonings in Mexico not being gluten free, I plan to look into this further and hopefully update this post once I get to the bottom of this.
In the mean time, happy eating!
Que Serie de Mí location:
Any tips I missed? What’s your favorite gluten free Mexican dish?
All that eating may induce a food coma so why not check out these places to stay the night!
Chillout Flat B&B is a bright oasis in the heart of the historical center. Feel like family when you stay here and take advantage of the home-cooked breakfast served every morning and take care of your food coma on the comfortable beds!
Looking to stay in Condessa, one of Mexico City’s hippest neighborhoods, but don’t want to break the bank? Be sure to check out Gael, a sleek, modern and minimalistic hostel.
Chaya B&B in the historical center is where to stay if Instagram-worthiness factors into your hotel decisions. This B&B boasts a rooftop deck filled with city views and greenery and is filled with snap-worthy details like natural wood, succulents, hammocks, and natural lighting.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means that if you click and purchase something through these links, Steph and I make a commission at no extra cost to you.