How to Order Gluten-Free Tacos

Gluten-free tacos can be a delicious options when dining out but if you have celiac, you’ll need to be careful.

I personally love tacos and as a celiac who’s been gluten-free for 10 years, they’ve glutened me a lot. From cross-contact from corn tortillas pressed in the same tortilla warmer as the flour tortillas, to accidentally being served flour tortillas…

Below we will discuss how to prevent getting glutened from tacos, including how to order them to avoid cross-contact.

Please note that none of the restaurants listed below serve as an endorsement or guarantee that you’ll have a safe experience. As always, gluten-free restaurant options are subject to change and cross-contact accommodations often vary by location.

P.s. Don’t forget to sign up for my FREE Gluten-Free Restaurant Cheat Sheets for the USA! In these free restaurant cheat sheets I cover what’s gluten-free at different USA restaurant chains and cuisines in the USA PLUS I give you scripts to help build up comfort with ordering. Grab your copy of these FREE cheat sheets here!

Table of Contents

What is Gluten?

When talking about gluten-free tacos, it’s important we know what gluten is. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye, contaminated oats, and wheat. It may be helpful to remember the acronym “BROW” when trying to remember what foods have gluten.

In baked goods, gluten holds things together working as a binding agent. It gives texture and chew to foods.

Most people can safely eat gluten. However, some people have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease which means they need to avoid gluten. It can cause digestive issues such as diarrhea and nausea as well as nonintestinal symptoms such as rashes, headaches, or joint pain.

What are Tacos?

When talking about gluten-free tacos, it’s also important we know what tacos. Tacos are a traditional mexican food made with hand-sized corn tortillas that are filled with meat and salsa.

According to the Twisted Taco, traditionally, Tacos are a street food that portable and affordable. They were corn tortillas filled with spicy fillings.

As Mexican migrants came to America, the fillings of Tacos changed greatly. Including cheese, lettuce, tomato, beef, and chicken.

There’s a lot of history here, so if you want to read more, check out this super informative post by Twisted Taco.

Are Tacos Gluten-Free?

To address the elephant in the room, Tacos are not always gluten-free. Gluten can show up in tacos via:

  • Spanish rice – if your tacos come with rice in them, you’d want to check on if the rice is gluten-free. It’s rare but sometimes soy sauce is added to this rice. Additionally, sometimes the seasonings in this rice aren’t gluten-free.
  • Sauces, beans, or queso – if you’re ordering you tacos with any sauce, beans, or queso then you’ll want to check if any of these are thickened with flour. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure no beer or soy sauce is added to the sauces. This includes moles.
  • Seasonings and marinades – for tacos to be gluten-free, the protein in them will need to be gluten-free too. This includes any seasonings or marinades on them. You’ll want to check on the seasonings used and verify nothing has been marinated in soy sauce or beer.
  • Tortillas – often tacos come in either flour or corn tortillas. You want to make sure you’re getting tacos in 100% corn tortillas to avoid gluten.

For the most part, you often can find tacos that are gluten-free by ingredient, but if you have celiac. You can’t stop there. You’ll also need to avoid cross-contact.

Gluten-free Tacos: How to Order Celiac Safe Tacos at Restaurants

Avoiding Cross-Contact When Ordering Gluten-Free Tacos

Gluten-free tacos may be gluten-free by ingredient but can quickly become unsafe for celiac if they come into contact with gluten. That’s because with celiac, we need to be careful to not only eat foods that are  gluten-free by ingredient but also foods that have not come into cross-contact with gluten.

To avoid gluten cross-contact when ordering tacos consider the following questions:

  • Is there gluten cooked on the grill top?
  • Are flour tortillas used on the preparation line?
  • Are flour tortillas pressed in the same tortilla press as the corn tortillas?
  • Can the cook change their gloves?
  • Is the meat seasoned with soy sauce?
  • Is the meat seasoned with Maggi?
  • If the meat is made with either soy sauce or Maggi, can I get plain meat cooked in a freshly washed pan?

Ordering GF tacos with these cross-contact points in mind might look like:

“Hi I have celiac disease, it’s like a severe gluten allergy, I’ll get exremely sick if gluten touches my food, can you please tell the chef? And is it possible to have the cook change their gloves, clean their work station and serve me the chicken tacos with lettuce and cheese in cold corn tortillas so that I don’t get sick?”

This is just an example, make sure you’re evaluating risk and suitability for yourself.

Gluten-free Tacos: How to Order Celiac Safe Tacos at Restaurants

Restaurants with GF Tacos

So, now that we know how tacos can contain gluten, let’s taco-bout where to buy gluten-free tacos. There are many restaurants that serve tacos without gluten, below are some chains in the USA…

(Please note, the chains listed do not serve as a guarantee you’ll get gluten-free food but just that they have options. Always evaluate the risk for yourself and make sure you’re advocating for the proper cross-contact precautions as needed. Often risk levels vary greatly by the time of day you’re dining, the location, staff, and your own individual dining skill).

On the Border

According to the 2022 On the Border Gluten-free Menu, you can get tacos without gluten here. The Green Chile Carnitas, Grilled Mahi, and Street Style Mini Tacos all appear to be gluten-free. You’d still want to check and ask for cross-contact precautions.

Barrio has Gluten-Free Tacos

With locations in Ohio, Michigan, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Hampshire, Barrio offers many gluten-free taco options. They have a build your own taco style establishment. And at the locations I’ve been to, they’ve had strict allergen protocols.

Order GF Tacos from Condado Tacos

With locations in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and North Carolina, Condado Tacos also has many gluten-free options. In fact, unless the menu has changed, only 2 things have gluten: the flour tortillas and the Korean BBQ Pulled Jack Fruit. PLUS the locations I’ve been too have had great cross-contact protocols.

In fact, quite a few of my clients have successfully used this restaurant as a way to ease into dining out at restaurants that aren’t 100% gluten-free.

You Probably Shouldn't Order GF Tacos from Taco Bell

I mention taco bell because they do have menu options that don’t contain gluten however, the ability to prevent cross-contact in this setting is low. If you have celiac, I advise you to find somewhere else to satisfy your taco craving.

Qdoba has Gluten-Free Tacos

You can also find tacos without gluten ingredients at Qdoba but there is a risk of cross-contact. You’d need to verify with your location that they can take the proper steps to prevent cross-contact when preparing your tacos.

Order Tacos Without Gluten from Taco John

With over 400 locations in 23 states, Taco John has gluten-free tacos you can order. Based on their 2022 Allergen Guide, the Crispy Beef and Crispy Chicken taco contain no gluten ingredients.

While they aren’t tacos, you can also get gluten-free Beef or Chicken Boss Bowls AND you can get Beef or Chicken nachos. Be sure to avoid the steak as it is listed to contain gluten. Additionally, don’t forget verify cross-contact precautions are taken when preparing your food.

Grab Gluten-Free Tacos from Del Taco

You can also order gluten-free tacos from Del Taco. The beyond taco and the Crunchy Beyond Taco and the Crunch Beyond Guacamole Taco are both gluten-free but are at high risk for cross-contact and you’d need to specify cross-contact precautions to make sure they are safe. There also two taco salads you can get, the Signature Taco Salad with Fresh Guac and Carne Asda or Beyond Meat.

Please note: none the restaurants listed above serve as a guarantee or endorsement that your food will be safe. These are just restaurants that can serve gluten-free tacos. You will still need to verify safety and ask for cross-contact precautions yourself.

Dining out with celiac disease can be overwhelming and scary no matter the cuisine or food. I hope this post empowers you to explore the gluten-free restaurant world of tacos!

And if you need more help with dining out with celiac disease. If dining out scares you and you want to learn from a celiac dietitian how to reduce the chances of getting glutened at restaurants, check out my Gluten-Free Dining Course.

Share this:

Like this:

Like Loading...