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Every trip I embark upon stirs a mix of excitement and apprehension. How will I manage with my gluten intolerance, soy and egg allergy? It’s very easy to travel Gluten-Free in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico in general. But with my dear friend, armed with our Spanish skills, our recent adventure to Puerto Vallarta was a delightful culinary dance. For all my fellow gluten-sensitive and celiac travelers, let me share my experiences, tips, and favorite spots.
Unpacking the Gluten-Free Richness of Mexican Cuisine
Sitting on a patio with a view of the sunset one evening, I indulged in authentic Mexican flavors. I have the advantage that my parents are Mexican and grew up with traditional Mexican food. Most traditional dishes, you’ll learn, are naturally gluten-free. The tangy taste of corn tortillas and fresh seafood and veggies make for memorable meals.
If you are ever unsure about those crispy tortilla chips beside our guacamole, get creative by replacing them with fresh veggies like jicama or cucumber or just relishing the warm corn tortillas.
Navigating Gluten-Free: Our Tried and Tested Tips
Research Before You Travel: I spent hours scouring blogs and reviews. This homework ensured we had a list of gluten-free friendly spots and some key Spanish phrases up our sleeves.
Snack Smart: We both had our backpacks stocked with emergency gluten-free snacks. Our favorites? Nut bars and dried mangoes.
Local Labels: During a shopping spree, we realized that understanding local labels was crucial. It became a fun game, deciphering ingredients and discovering new gluten-free treats.
Shopping Made Easy: We hit the jackpot at stores like Costco and Mega. But our personal favorites were the quaint Organic Superfoods and Casa Gourmet in Old Town, brimming with gluten-free delights. These places are great if you stay in Puerto Vallarta for an extended stay.
Top Gluten-Free Food Discoveries in Puerto Vallarta
Embarking on a gluten-free journey in Puerto Vallarta is not just about avoiding gluten—it’s about embracing vibrant flavors, wholesome ingredients, and the local culinary scene. Here are some must-visit spots that combine health with taste:
Salud Super Food: This cozy nook offers a menu brimming with fresh and gluten-free delights. The ambiance is relaxed and welcoming, perfect for a laid-back meal. Don’t miss their green smoothies, a refreshing blend capturing the essence of Puerto Vallarta.
Barra Light: A haven for health enthusiasts, Barra Light offers a unique mix of Mexican flavors and nutritious ingredients. The vibe is modern with a touch of rustic charm. Dive into their salad bowls, a riot of colors and tastes.
Veggitalia: Italian meets vegan at Veggitalia. The warm, ambient setting sets the stage for a delicious meal. The gluten-free pasta dishes, combined with fresh veggies, are an absolute must-try.
Ono Smoothie Bowls & Cafe: A tropical paradise in a bowl, Ono promises a burst of flavors and health. The cafe is bright, breezy, and perfect for a sunny afternoon. Their signature smoothie bowls, adorned with fresh fruits, are the stars here.
Playa Detox: As the name suggests, this is the place to rejuvenate. With a laid-back beachy vibe, Playa Detox serves up dishes that cleanse and energize. Opt for their detoxifying juices for a refreshing change.
La Bendita “Pecado Sin Culpa” Cocina 100% libre de gluten: Literally translating to “The Blessed ‘Sin Without Guilt'”, this spot ensures a 100% gluten-free experience. The ambiance is both chic and homely. Dive into their extensive menu, but the gluten-free pastries are particularly divine.
Organic Select México: This place seamlessly combines a store and a cafe. Surrounded by shelves of organic products, you can indulge in hearty meals. Their gluten-free breads, paired with fresh soups, are a delight.
Larmara: A trendy spot with a global touch, Larmara offers a blend of international dishes with a gluten-free twist. The setting is upscale yet cozy. Their seafood options, fresh and perfectly cooked, come highly recommended.
Mariscos el Guero: Dive deep into the heart of Mexican seafood at Mariscos el Guero. The atmosphere is lively and authentically local. Their ceviches, fresh and zingy, are the perfect antidote to a warm Puerto Vallarta day.
Pancho’s Taxos: If you’re searching for an authentic Mexican experience that caters to gluten-free needs, Pancho’s Takos is your go-to spot in Puerto Vallarta. Nestled in the city’s heart, this eatery exudes a rustic charm combined with an energetic vibe that captures the spirit of Mexico.
Each of these spots caters to gluten-free needs and promises a unique culinary experience, a blend of health, taste, and Puerto Vallarta charm.
The Puerto Vallarta Gluten-Free Palette
Freshness is a way of life here. I couldn’t get enough of the tropical fruits, and relished jicama and cucumber with a splash of lime and Tajin. The tortillas, mainly corn-based, became our staple. One evening, a local shared that many of their chile sauces and salsas are typically gluten-free. What a win!
Bridging The Gluten Gap
Traveling gluten-free, especially in a foreign land, requires a mix of patience and adventure. With its sun-kissed beaches and ever-smiling locals, Puerto Vallarta posed challenges but offered surprises. Sometimes our gluten-free requests were met with confusion, but more often than not, with understanding and warmth.
Handy Phrases We Used
“Yo soy celíaco” (I have celiac disease)
“sin gluten” (gluten-free)
“no puedo comer trigo, avenas, cebada ni centeno” (I cannot eat wheat, oats, barley, or rye)
Safeguarding Your Gluten-Free Travels with SafetyWing
SafetyWing can become an invaluable companion. As a reliable travel insurance, SafetyWing offers the reassurance of medical coverage, even if you face unexpected gluten-related health mishaps abroad. Whether it’s accidental gluten ingestion leading to a severe reaction or needing medical consultations while away, SafetyWing ensures you’re never left stranded. With its worldwide network of healthcare providers, you’re just a call away from professional assistance, no matter where your adventures take you. In the vast “what ifs” of travel, having SafetyWing by your side means you can focus on exploration with peace of mind, knowing they’ve got your back in any gluten mishap.
Savoring Gluten-Free in Puerto Vallarta
In the vibrant tapestry of Puerto Vallarta’s culinary scene, there’s no need for those with gluten sensitivities to feel left out. The city not only offers a bounty of traditional dishes naturally devoid of gluten but also boasts many restaurants dedicated to catering to the gluten-free community. As we’ve journeyed through the city’s eateries, from Salud Super Food’s wholesome offerings to the authentic taste at Pancho’s Takos, it’s evident that Puerto Vallarta is a haven for food lovers of all dietary preferences. So, the next time you wander the sun-soaked streets of this coastal paradise, rest assured that a delectable, gluten-free feast awaits at every corner. Happy dining!
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.