Puerto Escondido — Gluten-Free Guide

Puerto Escondido is in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico. Many people haven’t heard of it around here, but they are really missing out. It is a large area made up of five beaches. The largest beach is Zicatela. The main part of Zicatela is located right in the busy center of Puerto. We stayed further south in an area called La Punta de Zicatela. I cannot recommend this area enough. You could access any other parts of the city with very affordable cabs that were readily available. But La Punta is the place to stay, and we rarely felt the need to leave.

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We stayed just up the hill from the beach in a magical Airbnb. Just a few meters from our house, before the beach, there was a palm lined street. Every time I turned the corner onto this street, I had to take a deep breath and smile. It was small, well maintained, and lined with the yummiest places to eat and drink.

When I left for Puerto, I did not know of a single place for gluten-free dining. I normally leave for a trip with a list of places to eat, drink, and shop so this was very out of the ordinary. But everything went incredibly well, and I’d go back again and again. Here were some of my favorite stops!

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Caféolé (La Punta at the Frutas y Verduras Hostel)

Caféolé my favorite spot of the trip. I loved their carved tables, colorful setting, and amazing food. We ate breakfast there three times because we kept wanting more. I learned that eggs and jam may sound odd, but it is actually the best. All the omelettes were gluten-free and amazing. There coffee drinks were also top-notch. The first day our waitress was also a celiac!

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Moringa Fresh and Wild (La Punta)

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Attached to Caféolé, Moringa Fresh and Wild was one of my best finds.  It was a health food store with large selection of organic vegetables, local products, homemade kombucha, and gluten-free cookies. On the last day, I really looked at their supply closer and found many other gluten-free products like bread, quinoa salads, and granola bites. Additionally, we discovered they have a fresh batch of homemade empanadas delivered each day. They were not gluten-free but big hits with the rest of our group. I focused all my attention on their coconut shortbreads. I think I had one everyday and brought two with me on the plane.

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** Update: This store has a new location since we were there, but I think it is still in the general area. Find it!

El Palaco Kabas (La Punta)

El Palaco was an amazing fusion of Mexican and Mediterranean. We ate here for both lunch and breakfast. Each time, we were impressed with their cleanliness, quality, and flavor.  Their lunch menu includes tacos or pitas with lamb, chicken, or falafel. I tried both the lamb and chicken, but did not feel comfortable ordering the falafel without the ability to communicate clearly. All the tacos came in corn shells.

Lychee (La Punta)

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Lychee was yet another win for food and location. Right in the center of La Punta, Lychee was busy every time we walked by and for good reason. Their food and atmosphere topped the charts. They only offer one dish as gluten-free — their sweet and sour. I had it along side a perfectly fresh cocktail made with mint, lime, and pineapple. The staff was very knowledgeable and helpful with gluten-free as well.

Las Margaritas (Puerto Escondido)

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Las Margaritas was the perfect find by one our travel buddies. We took a day to explore the city center and Benito Juarez Market. When we arrived at the restaurant, the hostess translated the whole menu for us. This was the only time that I was able to communicate really clearly about what I could and could not eat. She was very careful in every detail of my dish. While she said that they did not use gluten in their kitchen, she was worried that some of their products from outside vendors might have something she didn’t know about. She replaced all of those items with fresh made options from their kitchen. I was highly impressed with the service, and then overwhelmed by the amazing food. While we ate, we watched the lady pictured above make fresh tortillas that were the best I’ve ever had. For about $7 USD per person, we had an amazing and filling meal with multiple courses!

Alivo Italian Restaurant (La Punta)

While I never thought I’d go to Mexico and eat Italian, Alivo was too cute, yummy, and close to pass up. The location was perfect for us, just steps from our house, but I would recommend anyone seek it out. They did not have gluten-free pasta, but I did have an amazing bun-less burger each time we went. It was grilled and flavorful and covered in fresh veggies and avocado with a side of potatoes. Make sure to have a cold glass of their Sauvignon Blanc too!

On our last night, Puerto had their first rainstorm since November. We were at Alivo and the lights went out almost immediately. The wait staff didn’t slow down one bit. We had a great meal by candlelight, and then raced home in the pouring rain. It was a great memory for our last night.

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Other Recommendations:

Enjoy the sunsets whenever you can.

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Visit the pineapple bar – Palapita Bar – on Playa de Zicatela for amazing drinks.

Walk up and down about 100 steps to spend the day at this beach.

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Last Gluten-Free Notes:

  • Local shops/small bodegas (other than the health food store) did not have gluten-free products other than basic chips and snacks that might be naturally gluten-free.
  • The Super Che grocery store did have many gluten-free options including a gluten-free section. It was just a 10 minute cab ride from our place. All cabs cost about 40-50 pesos which is about $2-3 USD.
  • I did find Ocho Reales Beer (a Mexican craft and gluten-free brewery) at the Mexico City airport, but I did not have any other gluten-free beer sightings after that.

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Disclaimer:

I’ve listed some of the favorite places that I ate, but there has to be a disclaimer. Communication was hard. I was able to ensure food was gluten-free but could rarely tell about cross-contamination. I can recommend these stops only because of my personal successes, but with little research/communication with staff. When communicating, I have very limited Spanish. I confirmed that ingredients were free of harina (flour) and trigo (wheat). I also asked about maíz as well as said, “sin gluten.” Between all of that, I had great success finding delicious food! The beauty of Mexico is how little wheat really exists in their day-to-day food. I found so many options!

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