How To Order Vegetarian Food at A Mexican Restaurant

by Mona Grayson

When we are thinking of becoming a vegetarian, we may think we have to forgo eating at our favorite restaurants.  Usually, if we know how to look for hidden non-veg ingredients, we can find a dish or two to order.  Today, Mona Grayson tells us what to avoid and what we can at Mexican restaurants.  Mona is a Raw/Vegetarian Food and Life Coach.  You won’t want to miss her this summer at Veggie Fest ’11 in Naperville on August 13th and 14th where she will be doing food demos for us.  She is a fun and interesting presenter who gives a lot of food for thought!

When it’s time for a fiesta with your friends, Mexican places are great for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.  But before you rush off to the restaurant to place your order, there are two things you should check on BEFORE you get there:

1) Is their rice made with chicken stock? (Sometimes it is.)

2) Do their beans have lard or chicken stock in them?  Check on both the refried beans and the black beans.

If these two items turn out to be vegetarian, then you are set for an AMAZING meal of delicious Mexican food with your friends…But if the rice and beans are not vegetarian, which does sometimes happen, you may want to suggest a different Mexican restaurant to your friends.  It’s not impossible to enjoy a meal if the beans and rice aren’t vegetarian, but it’s definitely more challenging.

After you’ve confirmed that they have vegetarian beans and rice…What can you order from the menu?  Try some of these dishes:

  • Table-side guacamole!  Many places will make it right there at your table and put just the flavors and spices in that you enjoy the most. This will be a popular appetizer to share with your friends.
  • Veggie Fajitas: Most places have an actual item on their menu called Veggie Fajitas, but if they don’t, not to worry!  Just order the fajitas as they are listed on the menu, and then tell them you don’t want any meat.  Tell them you want just the veggies like green peppers, onions, squash or whichever veggies come with the regular fajitas.  You can get corn or flour tortillas and usually the platter will come with beans and rice too.  This will be a super filling dish!
  • Nachos: You can get an incredible order of nachos with melted cheese, tomatoes, onions, and all sorts of other goodies that may come on it.  Just tell them to hold the beef and use the version of vegetarian beans that you prefer instead.  Often comes with sour cream and guacamole on the side.
  • Tacos: Want something traditional? Tacos can be made with beans instead of beef.  You can ask for corn or flour tortillas – whichever you prefer.
  • Burritos: If you’ve found out ahead of time that the beans are vegetarian, why not go for a big ol’ burrito? They’ll fill it up with rice and cheese, and maybe even some veggies for you.  You can top it off with sour cream and some of their traditional red or green sauce too.
  • Chips and salsa: Of course!
  • Enchiladas: Attention cheese lovers! These will usually come with a great red sauce also.
  • Quesadillas: Many Mexican restaurants have a plain cheese version, as well as a fancier version with spinach or mushrooms, melted inside.  Dip them in salsa, sour cream, or guacamole.  These come on flour tortillas usually.
  • Tostadas: These are like open-faced tacos.  You’ll usually get a hard flat corn tortilla topped with beans, lettuce, cheese, and maybe some salsa.  These are also known as Mexican Pizzas.
  • Beans and Rice: When you want something simple, go for a side order of the beans and rice assuming that they’re both vegetarian. You can get some pico de gallo with it (like a diced tomato salsa) and it can be very satisfying.
  • Taco Salad: Ready for a party on your plate? Get a grande taco salad served in a huge fried tortilla bowl that you can actually eat!  Remember to make sure they hold the beef and add the beans and rice!  You’ll also get cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever other goodies they include in their taco salads.  Sour cream and guacamole may be nearby to add to the tastiness too.

So my friends, at Mexican restaurants it’s all about calling ahead FIRST to find out if the Beans and Rice are vegetarian.

Once you’ve gotten the go ahead for vegetarian beans and rice, you’re in for an AWESOME MEAL and you’ll fit right in with your friends who are ordering from the same menu.

Hasta la fiesta!

Vegetarian Burrito at Mucho Burrito in Vancouver ~

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