With each and every trip I have taken, I am always a bit nervous how I will manage to travel with a gluten intolerance. This time around, I know things would be easy, primarily because I speak Spanish. Sure, traveling gluten-free can be an adventure on its own; but, my fellow gluten-free travelers rest assure that when traveling in Puerto Vallarta, and Mexico in general, one will find that eating gluten-free is easier than expected.
For starters, Mexican food in general is gluten-free; it includes a lot of corn, rice, meat, seafood, vegetables and beans—simply opting for corn tortillas over wheat and avoiding fried meats or fish will have gluten-free diners enjoying delicious region cuisine without worry. Unsure of tortilla chips? Do not miss out on the guacamole because of that. Ask to substitute cut veggies for the tortilla chips if unsure how they were fried. One can also use fresh, warm tortillas, equally as tasty.
Must Try in Puerto Vallarta
During our stay in Puerto Vallarta, Gregg and I discovered Salud Super Foods in Olas Altas, which offers an amazing menu of exceptional tasting, primarily fresh (and gluten-free) items. Many of the salads are gluten-free; unfortunately, the wraps are made from wheat flour but one can still order one minus the wrap. The green smoothies are not to be missed. These delicious libations of spinach, cucumber, pineapple and such are rejuvenating.
Even Starbucks in Puerto Vallarta offers gluten-free treats. If you must get your American coffee fix, don’t miss out on the Pan de Queso which will satisfy anyone’s carb craving.
Street tacos are a must try in Mexico, especially in Vallarta. A place worth trying is Pancho's Tako's where the Zona Romantica meets Olas Altas.
Finding Gluten-Free Foods in PV
Packaged gluten-free products like pasta, bake mixes, veggie burgers and snacks can be found at Costco, Walmart and the Mega stores. Organic Superfoods in the Puerto Vallarta Old Town offers a good selection of gluten-free foods including rice bread, pasta, Quinoa flour, bread sticks, crackers and cookies. Casa Gourmet, also in Old Town Puerto Vallarta, has a great selection of imported gluten-free products including delicious cookie and cake mixes.
What You’ll Love Food is made fresh. This is not a culture of processed foods.
Tropical fruit galore—think papaya, mango, watermelon, jicama, cucumber, and coconuts—readily available and served in salads, smoothies and side dishes. There are street vendors all throughout the Malecon; one can nosh on fruit in a cup or a mango on a stick, add lime, salt and hot sauce.
Don't worry about the tortillas. Tortillas are made from corn and very rarely are wheat tortillas used (this is a TexMex/gringo thing). It is good to know that many chile sauces and salsas, not all, do not contain wheat flour.
What Challenges To Expect
Some challenges one might encounter is the language barrier when ordering in restaurants. While English is widely spoken in many touristy and expat communities like Puerto Vallarta, do keep in mind that remote areas or street food stalls might present this problem.
Food allergies and intolerance is not the norm; restaurants carrying gluten-free menus or allergens lists is not common. Special orders do not go off very well. There’s a certain way the food is made, and any modification is ignored or not executed very well.
Phrases to get by
“Yo soy celíaco” (Yo soy celíaco); “sin gluten” (gluten free); “ no puedo comer trigo, avenas, cebada ni centeno” (I can not eat wheat, oats, barley or rye)
If all else fails, you can live off of chips, salsa, guacamole, and tequila.