This post about avoiding gluten at Mexican restaurants contains affiliate links.
Mexican food is a staple for those of us on a gluten-free diet. That’s because so many Mexican foods are naturally gluten-free.
Mexican food uses corn masa (corn flour) in most of its authentic dishes, although more Mexican restaurants are incorporating wheat tortillas to meet the demands of Western palates.
However, the good news is that many people with celiac disease and gluten-free eaters can enjoy a safe meal without gluten at a Mexican restaurant, with a few precautions and exceptions, of course.
Possible Gluten Exposure at Mexican Restaurants
Below are some of the many ways your food can become exposed to gluten at Mexican restaurants and why you must take precautions when eating Mexican food:
Deep fryer: Beware of corn tortilla chips cooked in same deep fryer used to cook battered foods. When your food touches food made with gluten, your food is no longer gluten-free nor safe to eat.
Related Reading: How Cross Contamination Can Sabotage Your Gluten-Free Meal
Tortillas: Some “corn” tortillas contain wheat flour too, unfortunately. Be sure to ask what ingredients are used to make corn tortillas and make sure it’s pure corn flour only.
Sauces: Enchilada sauces are often thickened with wheat flour or a starch, so it’s important to ask what’s in the sauce before taking a bite.
Queso: Queso is a thick cheese that is often thickened with some sort of starch or flour too. Ask specifically what ingredients are in the queso to be sure there’s nothing in there that will sabotage your gluten-free diet.
Seasonings and Marinades: Ask your server what is in the marinade used for proteins and vegetables to ensure it doesn’t contains gluten. Remember, some taco seasonings and taco seasoning mixes contain gluten.
Related Reading: What’s Gluten-Free at Chipotle?
Rice: While rice is naturally gluten-free, Mexican restaurants often season their rice. Those seasonings may or may not be gluten-free, and sometimes the rice is even cooked in a chicken broth that may contain gluten (a lot of store bought chicken broths contain gluten, unfortunately).
Shredded Cheese: While shredded cheese is naturally gluten-free, some store bought shredded cheeses are coated with some sort of flour or starch to prevent the shredded strands from sticking together. Cheese shredded in a restaurant also can come in contact with gluten during the shredding process.
Margaritas: Margaritas are typically made with tequila (gluten-free), fresh lime juice (gluten-free) and triple sec. Most triple sec brands are gluten-free, but you must check to be certain. Some restaurants use store-bought margarita mixes, so you’ll need to inquire about whether or not those mixes are gluten-free, too.
Surfaces: As always, ask for your meal to be cooked on a clean surface with clean hands/gloves to ensure minimal cross contamination.
Free Download: Gluten-Free Safe Dining Card
Use Your Nima Sensor
In addition to discussing your needs for a safe, gluten-free meal with your server, you can also protect yourself from cross contamination by testing your food with a Nima Sensor.
A Nima Sensor is a portable gluten detecting device that is highly accurate at detecting gluten in your food.
Related Reading: 13 Things You Need to Know about the Nima Sensor
All you have to do is put a pea-sized portion of your food in the Nima Sensor test capsule, and in about 1-2 minutes Nima will tell you if the meal is safe to eat.
Remember, Nima only tests a small portion of your meal, so other parts of your meal could have come in contact with gluten.
Overall, Nima will give you peace of mind to know that your meal is most likely free from gluten-containing ingredients, which is nice to know before you dive in and eat.
If you’d like a Nima Sensor of your own, use my code 10GOODFORYOU to get 10% off a Nima Sensor purchase exclusively on Amazon.
Related Reading: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Out Gluten-Free