Tex-mex has got to be one of the most popular and delicious cuisines Modern America has to offer. Who doesn’t love a chunky burrito after pulling an overnighter for finals, or a quick spicy taco on a night out?
Tijuana flats offers some of the best tex- mex in America with tons of exciting options to choose from; but what do you do if your gluten sensitivity stands in the way?
Does Tijuana flats have gluten free options or not? Can you afford to dine-in at this establishment without sending your gluten allergies in a spiral?
While Tijuana Flats does not have a dedicated gluten free menu, there are definitely some gluten free options such as burrito bowls and salad bowls without chips.
Given that tacos and chips are mostly made from corn at Tijuana Flats, it is only natural to assume that these would be a safe gluten free option.
However, since products made from wheat flour and corn are fried in the same oil; the risk of cross contact is high.
While many people with gluten sensitivity safely enjoy these bowls, it is always best to inform your server about your dietary restrictions in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences.
If you are a fan of Mexican food and especially the one offered at Tijuana Flats, continue reading to find out how you can have a zero stress, fun but gluten free Tijuana Flats experience.
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Beginning from a single location in Winter park, Florida, Tijuana Flats is now spread over 135 locations. It is well known not just for its tex- mex fast food style cuisine but also for its striking art murals.
All art murals are hand painted and local to the area.
The vibrant culture at Tijuana Flats is complemented by their signature hot sauce bars. The restaurant design and menu ensure a unique experience for all visitors.
As mentioned earlier, many items in Tex- Mex cuisine are made from corn which usually make it safe for those on a gluten free diet. However, if you are eating out at Tijuana Flats, be sure to steer clear of all fried items.
The reason for this is the fact that flour and corn items are fried in the same oil. This raises the risk for cross contact. If you have celiac disease, this can spell out trouble for you.
Tijuana Flats also does not have a specific allergen free or gluten friendly menu but some items on the menu can be considered safe for those on a gluten free diet.
However, if you have celiac disease or severe gluten allergy, I’d advise you to skip Tijuana Flats and go to a place with dedicated gluten-free facilities.
Let’s look at some menu items that are seemingly gluten-free at Tijuana Flats:
All ingredients in this bowl are generally considered as a safe gluten free option. However, remember to strictly avoid chips.
Toppings: You can choose from a wide variety of toppings including; beans, cilantro lime rice, cilantro slaw, guacamole, pickled red onions, poblano peppers and onions, queso fresco and corn salsa.
Paired with their signature garlic lime sauce, you can also order different sides from fresh habanero to roasted chipotle salsa. JUST BE SURE TO AVOID TORTILLA CHIPS.
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As is with the garlic shrimp bowl, this bowl is also gluten-free long as you avoid chips.
Base: Chopped romaine lettuce and cilantro lime rice.
Beans: Black beans and refried beans.
Fillings: Classic chicken, blackened chicken, ground beef, carnitas, steak, black beans and refried beans.
Toppings: Shredded cheddar jack cheese, jalapenos, guacamole topping, sour cream topping and pico topping.
FIND MORE: What’s Gluten-sensitive at Sbarro?
We have jotted down a list of some quick tips for you to have a wonderful experience at Tijuana flats while sticking to your gluten free diet. Stick to these tips and you will find yourself having the time of your life without consuming gluten.
Just because the main ingredient is gluten free such as corn, rice etc., don’t assume that the dish is safe to be consumed.
There are many ingredients in a dish and any one of these can trigger your gluten allergy.
Carefully go through the menu and see if the mentioned ingredients are safe to be consumed.
Additionally, ask the serving staff for a detailed version of all the ingredients in the dish to ensure that all of them are gluten free.
When it comes to dining out with specific dietary requirements and food allergies, the waiting staff serving you is indeed your best friend.
Mention it to the server that you have a gluten allergy/ sensitivity. Ask them for recommendations about which dishes to pick and which to avoid.
Most waiting staff are well versed in menu items which are gluten free.
Moreover, they can suggest changes in dishes to suit your dietary requirements and also make sure the chef knows your requirements.
Remember your health is your first priority. Ask tons of questions about whichever dish you are about to order.
For example, if you are ordering a salad bowl, ask if there is any gluten in the salad dressing.
Gluten is one of the most common proteins found in food and it has a way of sneaking into your food.
Be on the lookout especially when it comes to sauces or marinades.
Ask as many questions as you need, remain assertive but be polite and courteous to the restaurant staff.
During rush hours such as peak lunch hours or dinner hours, the restaurant staff is usually overwhelmed and overburdened.
They might not be able to accommodate your needs as well.
It is always best to call before visiting and discussing your dietary requirements with the restaurant staff.
That way, the restaurant has a clear idea of your needs and they can be prepared beforehand.
What exactly is cross contact and why is it a risk for you?
Many times, items which are considered to be gluten free come into contact with gluten from other sources.
For example, if gluten free meat is cooked on the same girdle as meat which was marinated in sauce which contained gluten, the gluten free item is unfit to be consumed.
There is even a risk of cross-contact before ingredients make it to the kitchen, such as during the growing, processing, and manufacturing processes.
Hence, it is prudent that gluten free items are cooked and stored away from any items which may contain gluten.
At Tijuana flats many menu items are made purely from corn instead of wheat such as tortilla chips, tacos e.t.c.
However, since wheat and corn tortillas are both fried in the same oil, they cannot be safely consumed by anyone who has gluten sensitivity.
This is the primary reason why you need to steer clear of chips and any other deep fried items at Tijuana Flats.
Since cross contact is a potential risk, it is always beneficial to ask the chef or waiting staff to ensure that the same utensils are not used to cook gluten free items as the ones used to cook other dishes.
If the same utensils are being used, be sure that all dishes have been washed thoroughly before preparing gluten free food items.
Cross contact can be quite dangerous for people who have celiac disease and needs to be taken seriously.
Hence, if you have a severe gluten allergy or have been diagnosed with celiac disease, try to avoid any establishment where cross contact is a risk
One of the most important tips for eating out at any establishment is to read reviews which other customers have left.
It is a tried and tested method of ensuring you have a safe experience at any restaurant. Especially if you have a food allergy such as a gluten allergy, reviews can come in quite handy.
We have scoured the internet to find reviews regarding Tijuana Flats and her is what we found.
Unfortunately, Tijuana Flats dies not have a dedicated gluten free menu which has disappointed many lovers of the Tex-Mex cuisine. Most people recommend avoiding any fried items since the same oil is used for wheat items.
Those who did not get sick after eating at Tijuana Flats said that they clearly communicated their dietary requirements to the staff. Many suggested calling early to give the restaurant ample time to accommodate your needs.
Despite very limited gluten free options available at Tijuana flats, some of the reviewers greatly appreciated the burrito and salad bowls citing them as full of flavor and free of gluten.
A few people reported they felt sick after eating out at Tijuana Flats since the risk of cross contact is very high.
They do not have gluten friendly standards and if you have celiac disease or severe gluten allergy, it is preferable to avoid dining at Tijuana flats.
If you love tex-mex cuisine but your gluten allergies make it difficult for you to eat at Tijuana Flats, we have a few alternative recommendations as well.
With more than 2000 locations, Chipotle is one the most popular and fastest growing food chains in the country. Chipotle offers tons of options which are very similar to the menu items available at Tijuana Flats.
However, Chipotle also has a dedicated gluten free menu. You can browse through it to order a gluten free version of your favorite item. As a rule of thumb, Chipotle advises to avoid flour tortillas which have been made with wheat.
Chipotle also recommends that their staff be told about your gluten allergy so that they can switch gloves and use separate utensils for your meal.
Let’s take a look at some of the gluten free options available at Chipotle.
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