Growing up in Southern California, I’ve had my fair share of delicious Mexican food. It’s a good thing many different Mexican dishes are keto-friendly or can be altered to fit a ketogenic diet.
What can I eat at a Mexican restaurant on a keto diet? The best keto-friendly Mexican options in general are:
- Pico De Gallo
- Fajitas without the tortillas
- Ceviche without the chips
- Meat enchiladas (just the filling)
- Carne asada
- Taco salad without the shell
- Chile Rellenos
Read along further as I’ll go over general dishes that are safe to eat at your favorite Mexican eatery, hidden ingredients to look out for, and even some of my favorite Mexican keto-friendly recipes.
Keto-Friendly Mexican Restaurant Foood
When it comes to eating out at your local Mexican eatery, there are a few dishes that you can usually bet on to be keto-friendly. However, other recipes may look safe but require you substitute or omit a particular ingredient or two.
In general, no matter where you are, stick to basic principles of meat and vegetables, and you’re 90% in the clear. The other 10% is usually a sugar-filled sauce you can request on the side or omit.
Whether you’re eating traditional Mexican food, Tex-Mex, or even Cali-Mex cuisine, there is an option for you.
Keto Mexican Restaurant Options
Who doesn’t love some guacamole? Yes, you may not be able to dip chips in your guacamole, but you can use it as a garnish for your main dish or even use another vehicle.
Can you say Chicharonnes? 1
Almost every guacamole recipe follows the same essential ingredients:
- Jalapeno *
- Spices *
Pico De Gallo
Pico De Gallo is also commonly referred to as salsa Fresca and is widely used in many Mexican dishes. Many Mexican restaurants will serve Pico De Gallo with chips as a complimentary appetizer while waiting for the main course.
Main ingredients include:
- Serrano peppers
- Lime Juice
Fajitas (Steak, Chicken, Or Seafood)
When it comes to fajitas, the star of the show is the sizzling grilled meat and vegetables. Of course, you likely will get a side of sour cream and possibly guacamole, which are keto-friendly.
Some Mexican restaurants may pre-wrap the fajitas for you, while others will put tortillas on the side for you to wrap them yourself. Feel free to ask them to omit the tortillas or possibly even substitute them for something more keto-friendly.Avoid the tortillas, rice, and beans that come with fajitas.
Ceviche is a seafood dish usually served cold and as an appetizer, but don’t let that stop you from making it the main dish. The base for ceviche is typically some seafood (fish, scallop, shrimp, or mix) marinated in lime juice with chopped onions, peppers, and various seasoning.
Ceviche is likely served on top of a tostada 3 or with a side of chips which you can request be omitted.
Also, some Mexican restaurants may top their ceviche with a sauce you should avoid unless you can verify the ingredients. Many of the sauces are a cream-based sauce, but if they add sugar, then it should be a no-go.Avoid the tostada, chips, and even extra sauce that may be glazed on top.
Enchilada filling (Chicken or Beef)
Enchiladas, by definition, is a corn tortilla rolled around a filling, but in our case, we don’t want the tortilla. Enchilada filling is typically made with the meat of your choice, a seasoning blend, tomatoes, chiles, and cheese.
Additionally, it's probably a safe bet to stay away from the enchilada sauce as well. Enchilada sauces use flour as a base. Also, look out for beans and potatoes, which may potentially be mixed in with the enchilada filling.Avoid the tortillas and enchilada sauce, though a little enchilada sauce may be o.k. 4
Chorizo is a traditional Spanish and Mexican sausage usually made from pork but can be often found with beef as well. Traditionally, chorizo is made with the most simple of ingredients: pork sausage, seasoning, and the casing.
A 1 ounce serving of chorizo will have, on average, 11 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein.
Carne asada is grilled and sliced beef, that’s it. Most carne asada uses skirt steak, but you may find certain places that use sirloin, tenderloin, or even rib steak.
While carne asada is more than likely to be marinated, it should generally be safe and considered keto-friendly when eating out.
Most salads at Mexican restaurants are keto-friendly. You may need to watch out for tortilla strips, beans, corn, and possibly a sugar-filled dressing.
Your best bet is to ask for dressing on the side, which usually leaves you with lettuce, the meat of your choice, and usually salsa and/or guacamole. A low carb Mexican salad is a staple for many keto dieters.Avoid tortilla strips, beans, and any sugar-filled salad dressings.
Carnitas are another staple, keto-friendly Mexican dish that's made in a straightforward matter. Traditionally, carnitas are made by simmering pork in lard until tender. However, many places will often slow cook or roast the pork low and slow until it’s tender enough to shred with a fork.
One of my favorite dishes is chiles relents. A chile relleno is a hot pepper stuffed with cheese, dipped in egg, and then fried.
Just be careful about any added sauces and opt to have cheese and salsa instead.
Keto-Friendly Mexican Drinks
Your traditional sangrias, margaritas and pina coladas solely won’t due, sorry. However, there are other delicious low carb Mexican drinks you can enjoy without knocking yourself out of ketosis.
I wrote an article with a general list of keto-friendly alcohol, but here are a few ideas for keto-friendly drinks at a Mexican restaurant:
- Light beer (a corona light will set you back 5g of net carbs)
- Glass of wine
- Hard liquor (tequila anyone?) I’ll usually order tequila with club soda 5 with a squeeze of lime. If you want something a little sweeter, you can add whichever sweetener substitute you prefer.
Keto Mexican Restaurant Options To Avoid
The foods listed above are the best low carb foods to eat when dining at a Mexican restaurant. The following list is items you should avoid when trying to remain keto at a Mexican restaurant:
- Tortillas (corn or flour)
- Tortilla chips
My Top 5 Low Carb And Keto Mexican Food Recipes
Being that Mexican food is one of my favorite cuisines, I do try to re-create a lot of my favorites at home. Aside from that, it’s just better knowing the exact ingredients in my food. Below is a list of some of my favorite keto inspired recipes across the web.
Who doesn’t love a good chimichanga? Technically, a chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito wrapped in a flour tortilla, but in this recipe, we’re using low carb tortillas of your choice. (These are my favorite ones)
Click here to view the recipe from Hip2Keto
Photo and recipe from Hip2Keto
Low Carb Cheesy Mexican Skillet
If you’re a fan of one-pot or in this case “one skillet” dishes, then this recipe is for you. This recipe uses shredded chicken, but you can use any meat your heart desires. I like to use this recipe with some shredded or ground beef.
Click here to view the recipe from Kasey Trenum
Photo and recipe from Kasey Trenum
Chili Verde Keto Chicken Casserole
If you’re a casserole connoisseur, this recipe will be right up your ally. I’m particularly fond of green chili and salsa, so anything Verde 6 is already high on my list.
This recipe uses a combination of three types of cheese and a savory chili Verde sauce.
Click here to view the recipe from Whole Lotta Yum
Photo and recipe from Whole Lotta Yum
Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice
The biggest food I miss on a ketogenic diet is RICE! Besides, rice and beans are a must with any Mexican dish. This recipe is sure to fill that void for those who miss rice using cauliflower rice as a base.
What’s better is that this dish is another one pot or one-skillet wonder.
Click here to view the recipe from All Day I Dream About Food
Photo and recipe from All Day I Dream About Food.
Keto Mexican Pizza
One of my guilty pleasures as a child was the Mexican pizzas from Taco Bell. It only made sense I seek out a recipe to re-create one of my childhood guilty pleasures.
Click here to view the recipe from Keen For Keto.
Photo and recipe from Keen For Keto
So now you know what to eat at a Mexican restaurant on keto and some pitfalls to avoid.
What are some of your favorite keto-friendly Mexican restaurant dishes? Comment below and share with us and others so we can add to the list.