Saturday, February 5, 2011

Restaurant Guide: Mexican Food


This is part of a series covering different types of restaurants and what to watch for to avoid eating unclean foods.  This is usually broken out into two sections: general menu items to avoid and specific items to avoid at particular restaurant chains.  The general items will list out menu ingredients that you may not be aware of as being unclean.  Many restaurants have gone to using the original name of the ingredient in the language associated with the restaurant name (Spanish names in Mexican restaurants, Italian names in Italian restaurants, etc.).

General Menu Items

Refried Beans - almost exclusively made with lard though many chains are switching to lower fat vegetable oil.  Note, however, that some chains are returning to lard for the cost savings and customer preference.

Black Beans - unless listed as vegetarian, find out if they put ham or bacon in them.

Charro Beans - unless listed as vegetarian, find out if they put ham or bacon in them.

Tamales - while the filling may be clean, the masa mixture is usually made with lard.  Best to avoid unless you find out otherwise.

Chorizo - mexican sausage made from pork most of the time.

Carnitas - pulled pork

Ground meat - some restaurants, instead of using 100% beef, will mix in pork and just call it "ground meat".  Ask to find out if this is true.

Camarones - shrimp

Carne Asada - while usually beef, it could contain pork.

Specific Restaurant Chains
Note that while we do list specific chains, in some cases, the menu may be different in other states or areas.  Therefore, it is your responsibility to confirm with your local establishments what they do.  This is, by no means, an exhaustive list nor is it indicative of all stores of a chain.

Taco Cabana - refried beans are not made with lard, but they use the bacon grease from the morning breakfast shift.

Rosa's Tortilla Factory - you will pretty much have to avoid this place altogether.  They make their own tortillas and only use lard.  Thus, the tortillas, the tortilla chips, the salad shell, etc. all contain lard.  This wipes out about 95% of their menu.

If you know of any additions or changes to these lists, please feel free to add them in the comments below.

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