Nachos, Burritos, Tacos, Fajitas (which I’m unsure are actually authentic Mexican) are all sounding pretty carb-heavy. But there is some good news, if you’re a little bit clever there are plenty of ways to eat low carb at a Mexican restaurant.
With the exception of the chain stores, Mexican restaurants in Australia tend to be all quite different and often a bit of a fusion of Mexican and Australian cuisine so I’ve tried to go with the dishes that you’ll find in most places.
If you spot a Mexican restaurant that has a lot of low-carb options then comment below and let us know! I’d love to check it out and share it with you guys.
Ok, let’s get into it.
First, let’s start with what to avoid when you’re trying to eat low carb at a Mexican Restaurant
This one is straight out the door.
Not only do you get hit with the carbs from the wrap, you’ve also got to account for the rice and the beans that are generally in burritos.
One “standard” beef burrito is going to smash you with around 88g of carbs ?
Drool worthy, sure. Low carb… not so much.
A corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, folded and pressed in the grill sounds incredible, but just one quesadilla contains around 45-50g of carbs as a guide.
An absolute favourite of mine when I want a bit of a cheat meal.
Unfortunately though, corn chips despite being very light, are mostly carbs. Just 100g of corn chips has around 64g of carbs.
By the time you add your fillings, salsa and any other condiments you’re well over what anyone could consider low carb, even on a generous day.
Ok, so how CAN I eat low carb at a Mexican Restaurant?
I’ll admit, this was probably one of the harder articles I’ve had to research.
There are plenty of great low carb options at the pub, a few to choose from when eating Japanese, and surprisingly there’s even plenty of great low carb options at Italian restaurants, but Mexican food leans very heavily on corn and beans due to the availability of those crops in Mexico.
✅ Naked Burrito (aka Burrito Bowl)
Questionable if you should even call this a burrito but that’s what it’s commonly referred to so let’s roll with it.
Essentially the fillings of a burrito in a bowl instead of a wrap. The trick here is to make sure you leave out rice or beans as these will instantly hit you with around 20-30g of carbs.
If you opt for the meat, salad and cheese only, a naked burrito or burrito bowl with beef, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole will see you at just 5g of carbs!! How good is that.
If you need a bit more to fill you up just double the meat and it will boost your protein up to around 35-40g of protein which is a great serve.
✅ Ensalada (Salad)
Might be a bit obvious but it’s worth a mention.
Salad generally are a safe bet (unless it’s pasta salad), when you’re trying to eat low carb.
At a Mexican restaurant, just watch out for beans or corn which is sometimes added, these will definitely spike you over 20g of carbs.
If you’re going for salad greens, cheese, beef or chicken you’re going to be looking at less than 10g of carbs which is a pretty good option.
This is a delicious dish somewhat similar to ceviche.
Traditionally, aguachile is a dish made with prawns pickled in lime juice and served with chillis, capsicum, onion and coriander.
Depending on the Mexican restaurant you may also get cucumber, avocado or even corn chips.
It’s hard to give an exact figure, but a traditional aguachile dish should only have around 10-15g of carbs depending on how it’s prepared.
✅ Pescado (Grilled Fish)
Seafood plays a bit part in Mexican food and many Mexican restaurants (not takeaway or fast-food places) will have charcoal grilled fish on the menu.
Assuming your grilled fish comes with a bit of salsa or pico de gallo, and not corn chips, you’ll probably be looking at somewhere around 10g of carbs.
✅ Pollo (Grilled Chicken)
Another staple protein of the Mexican diet is chicken.
Which is great because chicken is basically carb free. Where you may get stuck is what it comes with. Stick to the protein and avoid anything you know is carb heavy and you’ll be fine.
A grilled marinated chicken dish should sort you out with a heap of protein and only 5-10g of carbs.
If you spot this on the menu at your Mexican restaurant then definitely give it a go!
Burrata is a soft cheese similar to fresh mozzarella. It’s often served with mixed vegetables, salsa and some other goodies so definitely check it out.
Burrata itself is cheese which as we know, is quite low carb with only a couple of grams of carbs per 100g.
What about the toppings?
The good news about eating low carb at a Mexican Restaurant is that the toppings or condiments are generally very low carb or even keto-friendly.
So whilst you might feel like you’re missing out by excluding the wrap or the corn chips, you can make up for it with a double helping of guacamole or sour cream.
Who can say no to this!
Guacamole is predominately avocado, fresh herbs, lemon juice and chilli so it’s very low in carbs.
Half a cup of guacamole has around 5g of carbs.
Cheese is basically carb free. The harder cheeses usually more so than the softer ones, but all are very low in carbs.
Remember, just because cheese is carb-free doesn’t mean it’s calorie free!
✅ Sour Cream
Another winning condiment.
Sour cream has only 3g of carbs per 100g (which is a LOT of sour cream) so go for it. It’s a great way to add some extra calories to your meal if you need them.
✅ Hot Sauce
Hot sauce has less than 1g of carbs per serve.
A lower carb topping or condiment.
It varies from recipe to recipe quite a lot but salsa’s are generally very low carb (provided they don’t have corn in them).
A standard tomato-based salsa, has around 7g of carbs per 100g.
What about low carb Mexican at home?
Check out this Recipe for Low Carb Nachos made with our Protein Pizza Base Mix
Nachos without carbs? Are you loco?
Well maybe, but not when it comes to carbs! Using our Protein Pizza Base you can whip up some low carb chips which you can use for nachos and they have only 3g of carbs per plate!
⏩ Check out our Low Carb Nachos recipe here.
What’s your favourite way to eat low carb at a Mexican Restaurant?
I’d love to hear from you and update this list with any great suggestions you guys have.
- An avid barefoot trail runner, explorer, creator, and keen learner. I'm incredibly humbled by everyone who's helped The Protein Bread Co. to grow to where it is today – actively supporting our mission to help 5M Australians and 20M people globally to live fitter, healthier and happier lives. You can reach out to me via Twitter or Instagram @thelowcarbgiant, Facebook @lukehopkins, or shoot me an email at email@example.com
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