Dining out as a vegan can sometimes be a challenge, especially if you want to enjoy some of your favorite ethnic foods. Mexican food is a favorite of vegans cooking at home because many of the dishes are well suited to alternative proteins like beans, but it can be harder to achieve when dining out. The following tips can help you have a successful vegan visit to your favorite Mexican restaurant.
Tip #1: Ask about the cooking oil
A lot of Mexican food is fried or cooked with oil. In most restaurants this is a some sort of vegetable oil, but a few may use lard. To ensure your meal is vegan, avoid anything fried if the restaurant uses lard.
Tip #2: Opt for corn tortillas
Lard is another reason to avoid flour tortillas. Traditionally, flour tortillas are made with lard, so there is no guarantee that the ones in the restaurant will be cruelty-free. This is especially true if the restaurant makes their own tortillas, since they likely use a traditional recipe. You can ask if you like, or just opt for corn tortillas to be safe.
Tip #3: Watch the guac
Guacamole is often a vegan favorite, but in some Mexican restaurants it is made by blending avocado with sour cream. Before ordering, make sure this isn't the case and also be sure to request that there is no dairy, such as cheese or a dollop of sour cream, added on top. A safe alternative to chips and guacamole is chips and salsa, since salsa doesn't contain dairy.
Tip #4: Order the taco salad
Salads are vegan-friendly if you order with care. Request no meat or substitute beans for the meat. Also, avoid the cheese and opt for a dairy-free dressing. You may also need to avoid the corn chip strips or tortilla bowl if the restaurant fries in lard.
Tip #5: Order component dishes
Meals that are assembled from a variety of components are easier to make vegan than those that are topped with questionable sauces or stuffed with questionable fillings. For example, when ordering tacos, hold the meat, cheese, and sour cream and ask for beans instead. Nachos topped with just beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and guacamole is another easy customization most restaurants are happy to provide. Bean filled entrees, like enchiladas and chimichangas may be another option, just ask that any sauce is left off unless you are sure it is vegan. The rice and beans side dishes are also usually vegan if they aren't made with a meat broth, so be sure to ask.
For more help, contact a Mexican restaurant near you, such as El Molinito Restaurant & Catering, to ask about their menu.