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Gluten Free Mexico City: The Celiac-Safe Guide

Mexico City, how I love you. I went to Mexico City in 2018 and it is still my favorite city that I’ve been to in the last two years. In this guide, I’ll help you navigate gluten free Mexico City, which might be the best city in the world for gluten free foodies like you and me.

If you’re looking for the perfect itinerary for gluten free Mexico City, here’s my guide to the absolute best way to spend 4 days in Mexico City as a foodie.

Part of the reason I love Mexico City so much is the prevalence of naturally gluten free food options. However, there are certainly a few things that you’ll need to watch out for, which I will cover below.

If you’re wondering where to stay on your Mexico City trip, check out this guide to the best places to stay in Mexico City.

Take a cooking class in Mexico City and learn how to cook some of your favorite Mexican food at home in your own kitchen! Read my review of Aura Cocina Mexicana here.

Onwards to your guide to gluten free Mexico City.

Note from Matt: I have now spent a total of two full weeks exploring the best gluten free eats in Mexico City, with a recent 9 day trip in early 2020. I love Mexico City, and think you, a Celiac foodie, should plan a trip there ASAP.

This guide was updated in January 2020 to reflect my finds on that 9 day trip.

gluten free mexico city

How to Navigate Mexico City Gluten Free

Like I mentioned, there are a few things to watch out for in Mexico City for those of us that need to eat gluten free.

It boils down to one simple tip – you have to ask some crucial questions to make sure you get 100% gluten free food in Mexico City.

gluten free tacos in Mexico City

Here is a fantastic guide to gluten free Mexico from Legal Nomads that every Celiac visiting Mexico should read before their trip. I certainly did, and it’s where I learned a bunch of this stuff before my first trip.

Don’t miss her gluten free restaurant card for Mexico, which I used on both of my trips to help my communicate my needs when my broken Spanish just wasn’t cutting it.

For another great read on what to avoid, check out this guide to eating gluten free in Mexico from Playas y Plazas.

Hidden Gluten to Watch Out For in Mexico

Here are a few things that you’ll need to know about gluten in Mexican cuisine (at least at restaurants in Mexico City).

It is important to be very specific when you are asking for gluten free food in Mexico. The vast majority of servers in the restaurants on this list did not know what gluten is, so I had to explain. Once I explained what ingredients I need to avoid, they usually would ask the chef. Don’t worry, I have you covered below (in two ways) about how to tell restaurants what you can and cannot eat.

  • Problem ingredients that include wheat to watch out for and actively ask about: Maggi Jugo, salsa Inglesa (basically Worcestershire Sauce), salsa de soja (soy sauce) and Knorr Consum de Pollo. All three might be added to meat marinades and SALSAS for quick flavor, and the last one might show up in rice or soups. Always ask about them, especially for street foods.
  • Shared fryers are everywhere. Not many places have dedicated gluten free fryers. There are some gems that don’t fry any gluten on the premises, but you’ll need to ask. Common things to ask about fryers for: totopos (chips), chilaquiles, and tostadas.
  • The corn tortillas in Mexico City are game-changing. Seriously. I’ve never had a better tortilla in the US. Ever. Even the worst tortilla I had in Mexico City was miles better than anything I’d ever had before. HOWEVER, ask to make sure that all tortillas for tacos, quesadillas, memelas, tlayudas (my fave), tamales, and empanadas are 100% corn. Flour tortillas are few and far between in Mexico City, which is fantastic, but I found more flour tortillas and flour added to corn tortillas up north in San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
  • Taco fillings are generally safe if you confirm that they don’t use any of the three problem ingredients in the marinades (usually they won’t, in my experience, but it’s worth checking!). Get yourself some al pastor, or pork roasted on a vertical spit and topped with pineapple. YUM. Avoid most salsas in lower end restaurants like street food stalls and taco stands, because all of the salsas (n=4) I asked about contained one of the salsas negras (soja, Maggi, or inglesa).
  • Mole, unfortunately, is usually made with either flour or breadcrumbs. Which is sad, because mole is delicious when it’s gluten free.

Are Tequila and Mezcal Gluten Free? (Good news!)

Tequila and Mezcal are both gluten free, as they are agave based.

While you’re in Mexico City, you should try some Mezcal. La Clandestina and Bosforo are both fantastic options for exploring the world of Mezcal.

On my second trip, I did this Mezcal tasting through Airbnb Experiences, which was amazing and I would highly recommend to anyone who is either a) interested in the history of Mezcal b) thinks Mezcal is always smoky (pro-tip, it’s not. It can be floral, sweet, grassy, etc) or c) wants to spend two and a half hours making new friends over 6 oz of mezcal.


Gluten Free Restaurant Card for Mexico

But Matt, how am I supposed to ask about those three problem ingredients, fryers, and tortillas if I don’t speak Spanish?

I totally get it – language barriers are hard.

But I have good news – I have just the tool for you!

A Spanish Gluten Free Restaurant Card from Jodi over at Legal Nomads.

It includes all the information you’ll need to eat safely in Mexico City – including a piece about cross-contamination – all translated into Spanish by a native speaker.

With this card, gluten free travel in Mexico will be easier than ever.

Useful Spanish phrases for navigating Mexico City Gluten Free

As I got more comfortable speaking in Spanish (about five days into the trip), I began to teach myself the phrases I needed to ask. Here are the two phrases I found myself using over and over again.

  1. No puedo comer gluten porque tengo enfermedad celíaca. No puedo comer trigo, pan, salsa de soja, salsa inglesa o jugo maggi o me enfermaré. (I cannot eat gluten because I have Celiac Disease. I cannot eat wheat, bread, soy sauce, salsa inglesa, or jugo maggi or I will get sick).

  2. ¿Son estas tortillas cien por ciento de maíz? ¿No usas harina de trigo? (Are these tortillas one hundred percent corn? You don’t use wheat flour?)

The Best Gluten Free Eats in Mexico City

First, a Google Map with all my favorite places in Mexico City on it. Gluten free eats, coffee, shopping, it’s all there.

Here are three groups of gluten free Mexico City eats that you need to try.

First, the dedicated gluten free spots in Mexico City (plus one place known for being celiac-friendly).

Next is tacos and other quick bites, which you’ll find everywhere around Mexico City. If you have a Mexico gluten free restaurant card, you’ll be able to navigate the various taco places no problem. The three questions are whether they use 100% corn tortillas (no wheat flour!), any of the three problem ingredients (salsas inglesa o soja, Jugo Maggi), or shared fryers with gluten.

Third is the mid-range to fine dining restaurants that confirmed via message that they are celiac friendly. I ate at a handful of them (even more on the second time around!). If you’re going to do fine dining, Mexico City is the place to do it due to the favorable exchange rate with the USD.

For the all three groups, I reached out to each place on the list and confirmed that they can serve someone with Celiac Disease. All of the places confirmed that they have gluten free options and various levels of ability to manage cross-contamination. Avoid anything fried at all of the restaurants.

For the places you are interested in, you should to reach out and ask for yourself to confirm they can meet your needs.

Here’s the list of gluten free eats in Mexico City that you need to check out!


Dedicated Gluten Free Restaurants in Mexico City

I would be willing to bet that there are actually far more 100% gluten free restaurants in Mexico City that are not marketing themselves as such.

However, here is the list I was able to come up with based on my research. Shoot me a note at matt@wheatlesswanderlust.com if I missed one!

La Otilia

MUST STOP! A 100% gluten free bakery smack dab in the middle of Roma Norte, which is perfect if you’re staying in nearby La Condesa.

Update for 2020: Upon further review, this place is not as good as I remember. I had a gluten free red velvet cupcake that I was SUPER excited about, but it was pretty dry and flavorless. The service was pretty bad too (for just a cupcake). Their stall at Mercado Roma is no more, so you’ll find them at their original location in Roma Norte along with a few other locations around the city. They are 100% gluten free, accredited by the Mexican Celiac Association, and safe for Celiacs, but the food is just okay.

Las Mamazotas Kitchen

Las Mamazotas Kitchen is the winner of the trip, for me. This truly is a MUST STOP for all Celiacs in Mexico City. It was so good I went twice in 12 hours.

It’s primarily a brunch place, and it’s a cute little space on a picturesque street in Coyoacan. It is 100% gluten free, and also 100% delicious, which is the best kind of restaurant. The owner was there both times I went, and the server was super friendly and helpful. He even gave us samples of a few different desserts when we couldn’t make a decision!

We shared the chilaquiles and enfrijoladas for breakfast, which were both great. They have an extensive breakfast menu, with everything from pancakes and french toast to enchiladas and huevos oaxaqueños.

But the two best parts about breakfast at Las Mamazotas are the toast + fruit butter, and the post-breakfast dessert. The toast is good, but the fruit-infused butter is out of this world. Pretty sure I could eat a whole tub of it weekly. And it comes with your breakfast for free (or, is included in the cost), along with a cup of coffee. The desserts were a little overwhelming – they have a huge selection of gluten free pastries, cakes, pies, and more. We tried the chocolate berry tart and the mezcal-infused chocolate hibiscus cake, both of which were delicious. We strongly considered coming back a third time for another dessert for the plane ride, but decided against it.

They’ve also got a lunch and dinner menu, but I thought the breakfast food was the highlight (and the desserts).

Pan Filio

Slightly off the beaten path down at Mercado de Carmen in San Angel. Delicious baked goods, all 100% gluten free. Baguettes. Donuts. Brownies. Breads. Pizza bases. You name it, they’ve got it. We tried the empanadas, and they were super flaky which is something I haven’t had in years. We got a bag of cookies to go for the plane ride home, and they were equally light and fluffy.

Their space is airy and filled with natural light and quirky decorations which I loved.

La Pitahaya Vegana

Two locations, one in Roma Norte and one in Coyoacan, both serving up 100% gluten free and vegan food. Super colorful too, which is nice for the ‘gram. Tacos, taquitos, frijoles. All gluten free, all delicious.

The Mole Mixteco, with plantain-filled tortillas and a tangy mole sauce

A note for Celiacs:

I DM’d them before I went to ask about gluten free options, and the owner went above and beyond with her explanation.

She told me that there is no gluten in the kitchen, but that she buys her ingredients at the market and can’t guarantee there is no cross-contamination there. She echoed the same thing when I showed up at the restaurant.

I was impressed by the a) transparency and b) understanding of Celiac Disease. At home, most places aren’t thinking that carefully when you ask “is this gluten free / safe for Celiacs?”

Armed with that information, I decided that a 100% gluten free kitchen is good enough for me – the risk of cross contamination is relatively low at the market, especially given that there isn’t a whole lot of wheat or flour being sold at markets in Mexico City from what I’ve seen.

You might make a different choice, but the point is that you have the information you need to make the right choice for you and your body. Which is the best case scenario.

Enfrijoladas – the best dish at Pithaya Vegana

Energuía

Another gluten free gem, a 100% gluten free bakery. A little bit out of the way, but totally worth the trip to visit.


Gluten Free Tacos and other quick bites in Mexico City

When in Mexico City, you eat tacos.

This is by no means the only list of tacos you should try in Mexico City. These are some of the options I tried that I confirmed to be safe (ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK). Armed with your gluten free restaurant card for Mexico City, you can walk up to any taco stand and get safe gluten free tacos.

You’ll need to use your gluten free restaurant card for Mexico City, or ask them the three questions I mentioned above to confirm that all the fillings are safe. The tortillas were safe at all four places when I was there in 2018, though it’s best to triple check.

You’ll want to avoid the salsas – they are not safe for Celiacs.

Tacos los Cocuyos (Centro) if you’re looking for weird meats and a line out the door (except it’s a stand, so there’s not really a door). It’s in the middle of all the hustle and bustle, and should be a part of any trip to Centro to visit Bellas Artes or the Zócalo. One note here: They buy their meat from a vendor, and can’t guarantee no cross-contamination before that. But for me, that seems pretty low risk.

Tacos Hola (Condesa) great tacos al guisado, or stewed meats. Grab your tacos and take them outside to enjoy at the tables on the park.

Tacos el Huequito (multiple locations) This is more of a chain with FANTASTIC tacos al pastor. No on the salsas, but the al pastor is safe (make sure to double check).

tacos al pastor in gluten free mexico city
Tacos el Huequito makes FANTASTIC tacos al pastor!

Jenni’s Street Quesadillas: Jenni’s serves up delectable quesadillas on beautiful blue corn tortillas with your choice of toppings, including cheese. Street food is a must do in Mexico City, but you’ll want to make sure you’re eating safely so you don’t get sick. Look for places with long lines of locals – Jenni’s is among the most popular spots in a city full of tantalizing street food. Confirm the tortillas here are 100% corn (they were in 2018 and again in 2020), tell Jenni what toppings you want, and go nuts! Avoid the salsas, they aren’t safe.

Carmelita’s Quesadillas on the corner of Coahuila and Medellin (outside of Mercado Medellin): This street food stall has apparently been there for 50+ years, and is VERY popular. At 10am, the small seating area was packed on both of the two days we went. Highly recommend the squash blossom quesadillas.


Other Celiac-Friendly Restaurants in Mexico City

Mexico City is SUCH a good food city. The restaurants I list below don’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the great gluten free food there is in Mexico City.

The best part? Some of the best restaurants in Mexico City, and even in the world, make the list because of the corn-based cuisine. There’s not too many other cities in the world where you’ll find that the majority of the city’s best restaurants are also celiac-friendly.

This list is a great starting point for planning where to eat on your trip. You can eat safely at these restaurants. I confirmed with each of these restaurants individually that they can serve celiacs using the text of my gluten free restaurant card for Mexico.

They all cheerfully responded that they could. One of them even said “Of course! We are in the land of the corn tortilla after all!”

Fine Dining in Mexico City

There are two options that float to the top, both of which confirmed that they can serve people with Celiac Disease. I have personally eaten at Pujol, and it was my favorite dining experience. Ever.

Me at Pujol, the best food experience I’ve had in my life to date.
  • Pujol: My favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to, and ranks around #20 in the world. You can get a fantastic 3 hour dining experience at one of the world’s top restaurants for around $100 a person, which is unheard of in the US or Europe. The service was impeccable. The cocktails were perfectly balanced. And it’s super celiac-friendly. The only thing I couldn’t eat that night was the churro for dessert, and they made a separate dessert for me to enjoy. Full disclosure – their menu rotates often, so you’ll need to double check.
  • Quintonil: The second of the two top fine dining options in Mexico City. Get the tasting menu. It will run you ~$70 a person for a bunch (~10) of interesting and unique courses. The menu rotates frequently, so make sure you ask your server about gluten free options. They confirmed in a message that they would have no problem serving people with Celiac Disease as most of their menu is naturally gluten free.

Other Restaurants in Mexico City for Gluten Free Foodies

Expendio de Maiz Sin Nombre

(Maybe 100% gluten free, but the menu rotates daily so you need to ask and confirm).

Hands down my favorite food experience on this last trip to Mexico City in 2020.

There is no set menu. And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure what each dish was. But that doesn’t change the fact that it was delicious.

When you sit down, one of their lovely staff sits down and asks you a few questions, like where are you from and do you have any food allergies.

Then, the first round of food comes out. They explain it to you, and you dig in. “Another?” And the next set of dishes magically shows up a few minutes later.

That process repeats until you wave the white flag, stuffed full of some of the most amazing, inventive, and beautifully presented Mexican food you’ve ever had.

Celiac tip: the corn beer (cerveza de maiz) has barley, so it’s not safe, unfortunately. But everything else is gluten free (definitely double check as the menu changes all the time).

Azul

This is a must-stop for foodies in Mexico City. You know it’s good when a place is filled with locals.

Azul has two locations – one in Centro, which you should try to go to, and one in La Condesa. At the location in Centro, called “Azul Historico,” you’ll eat in an open air courtyard. Make sure to ask your server the three important questions for celiacs, particularly about the mole.

They have a few moles on the menu that look fantastic, but you need to confirm that they don’t use bread or flour (they didn’t answer my message on that). I’d probably just avoid them to be safe.

Azul is a perfect spot to grab lunch on a self-guided walking tour of the Centro Historico.

Rosetta

An Italian joint in Roma Norte that is highly rated both for the food (they’ve been on the World’s Best Restaurants list on and off) and for serving Celiacs. They have gluten free bread and pasta waiting for you, and have several choices on the menu that are gluten free. As always, let your server know when you sit down that you need to eat gluten free, and they’ll bring you gluten free bread to start. Always a treat.

Lalo!

Breakfast spot in Roma Norte where the only thing you need to watch out for at breakfast is bread, and they cook it in a separate part of the kitchen. Get the chilaquiles. The lunch menu has more gluten, so I’d go for breakfast to minimize the risk of cross-contamination if I were you.

Other restaurants that confirmed that they can serve a safe gluten free meals: Maximo Bistrot (no. 20 in the world last year!) and Huset (the grilled meats are SO GOOD).


A Gluten Free Cooking Class in Mexico City

When we travel, one of our favorite things to do is to recreate some of our favorite foods that we had on the trip in our kitchen at home in San Francisco. What better way to learn how to do that with Mexican food than a cooking class in Mexico City?

We did a cooking class with Aura Cocina Mexicana through Airbnb experiences, and it was fantastic. There are two minor ingredients that contain gluten, but they can both be easily omitted or replaced.

You can read about our experience here.

The amazing corn bread and drinking chocolate we made in our cooking class

Gluten Free Travel Tips and Resources

Wondering where to stay in Mexico City? Here is a guide to the best neighborhoods and places to stay in Mexico City. Highly recommend staying in La Condesa.

Don’t miss my other gluten free travel guides.


I hope this guide to gluten free Mexico City was helpful.

Mexico City is my favorite city that I’ve been to in the past few years, and it is super celiac-friendly, even though many places don’t advertise that way.

From taco stands, to mid-range restaurants, to some of the best fine dining in the world, Mexico City has great options for gluten free foodies. No matter what your tastes are.

Just be sure to ask the three questions that Celiacs need to ask when exploring gluten free Mexico City:

  1. Are the tortillas 100% corn, no wheat flour?
  2. Is the fryer dedicated gluten free?
  3. Do you use Maggi Jugo, salsa Inglesa, or Knorr Consum de Pollo?

Looking for a place to stay in Mexico City? Here are the best places to stay in Mexico City.

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2 Comments

  1. Hey! Really enjoyed your article! I wanted to let you know that some restaurants in Mexico actually use animal cookies for the thickener in their mole 😂 😂
    So maybe that’s why they didn’t know how to answer you lol
    But anyway, I’ve been to Mexico City a bunch of times and your list was still super informative for me. 🙂

  2. This is really helpful. Were you able to eat the famous mole course at pujol? I saw a review that specifically said yes and one that said no. Given that it’s years old whatever they told you should be accurate. Also for the street salsas I get that a tomato based salsa would have gluten but what about salsa verde? It’s usually just tomatillo and other vegetables. Thank you!

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