Wheat-Free Mexican Dining Tips

Mexican food is a great restaurant option if you don't eat wheat, either by choice or due to a gluten allergy. Many of the traditional items on the menu won't contain any wheat, since the flour of choice in Mexican cuisine is masa or corn flour. Try this advice to help you make informed choices as you go through the menu.

Ask for corn tortillas

Flour tortillas have taken the place of corn tortillas in some restaurants. Always verify that your dish comes with corn tortillas. Fajitas, chimichangas, and many burritos, for example, are typically made with flour tortillas. Hard tacos are usually safe, and you may be able to have enchiladas or fajitas prepared with corn tortillas.

Be careful about the chips

At home, you are probably used to all tortilla chips being made of corn, but this isn't true at many Mexican food restaurants. Find out ahead of time if the restaurant makes their own chips. If they do, then they may mix flour tortillas in with the corn. There is also the concern, for those with an intolerance, that the chips could be prepared in oil that has been tainted with wheat products. This isn't usually cause for concern if avoiding wheat is a personal choice.

Ask about frying procedures

Before ordering anything fried, like the above mentioned chips, ask if the restaurant uses a dedicated fryer. If not, skip things like corn tortilla shells made in-house or other fried food items. Many restaurants are beginning to implement dedicated fry systems, so don't be shy about asking.

Go for deconstructed meals

If you are still craving a burrito but the tortilla choice has you down, ask for it served in a bowl over lettuce. In fact, many Mexican restaurants now have expanded salad menus, which include burrito bowls, fajita salads, and taco salads. Just ask that the salad is served on a plate or bowl instead of in the traditional taco bowl. Taco bowls are usually made from flour tortillas.

Request an ingredient list for unknown items

At a Mexican food restaurant, the main concerns will be the different sauce and seasoning blends used in the kitchen. While not a concern for those choosing to go wheat-free, it can lead to illness if wheat sneaks by in the sauce and you have an intolerance. Fortunately, the cuisine is spice heavy, and sauces tend to require uncomplicated ingredients, so an accurate list really minimizes the chances of surprise wheat exposure. Most restaurants should be happy to show their list. If they don't have them available, err on the side of caution and skip the ingredient.

Contact a local Mexican restaurant to find out what steps they take to help diners that are dealing with food allergies.