Saturday, March 22, 2014

Eating Gluten-Free at El Azteca

Mexican Food and Beverage

What an odd thing. A quiet, relaxed Mexican dinner for two adults. Is this common in the world out there?

We had a nice, early evening out, just the two of us.

Unheard of!

And we had time to kill. Maybe too much time.

And since it was just the two of us, we could have even sat at the bar. But we chose not to. We chose a table in the bar area of the restaurant.

And it was not too rambunctious in the bar, being that it was still early on a Saturday evening. Never mind that a stem glass tipped over on the server's tray and crashed on the floor as it was being brought to our table.

I had nothing to do with it! Honest! I didn't even have my drink yet! Well, actually, that glass was probably supposed to be mine. It was riding on the tray with our pitcher of margaritas.

Yes. A pitcher. For just the two of us.

I said we had time to kill....

El Azteca on Urbanspoon

El Azteca

Along with our margaritas, we started with the obligatory basket of chips and salsa. Fresh and delicious!

No, we didn't want to order yet. Chips, salsa and libations were good for awhile.

We happily killed the basket of chips and bowl of salsa.

Order another set of chips and salsa or just order dinner? Chips or dinner? Chips or dinner?

Big decisions. Check the time. Still plenty of time.

We didn't really need to eat more chips. We really ought to just eat dinner.

Ah, but eating dinner requires that we order dinner. And ordering dinner requires that we consult the menu.

Here it is. Plenty of traditional choices and lots of unique combinations.

But wait! There's more! Look closely.

And because you probably can't read that, I'll read it for you. It says, "Gluten-free preparation available. Please mention this to your server when ordering."


So of course, I ordered mine gluten-free.  As she repeated it back to me, our server said, "...with no cheese." Ah, I see.... No cheese. That tells me something. That tells me that they must buy their cheese already shredded and it is likely coated in wheat flour. This keeps the shredded cheese from sticking together in one big lump. This wheat flour is helpful to restaurants, but not to me. Bummer.

But on the up side, I would get a gluten-free version of their Fajita Salad with Grilled Chicken. Or Ensalada del Fajita con el pollo de la parrilla. You choose. Here it is.


It must have been a good choice, because my husband ordered the same thing, but a glutenated version. His ensalada came with cheese and in a fried flour tortilla bowl. I did not get a fried tortilla bowl, thank you very much.

But it sure would have been nice to have something crunchy to eat with my ensalada. Something crunchy like grilled or toasted or baked corn tortillas, which are almost always gluten-free and safe for me.

So I asked for the manager. When he arrived at our table, I gently suggested that their gluten-free version include baked corn tortillas on the side, instead of the fried flour tortilla bowl.  

He smiled at me and said, "You just have to ask." Okay then. Now I know. He immediately offered to bring me some corn tortillas cooked on the grill. Absolutely!

Fabuloso! Just what my ensalada needed.

All of the food was very fresh and tasty! Excellent! Not the same ol', same ol' Tex-Mex. Nope. This is Mexican. Good Mexican. And it was even served east of Denver!

As it turned out, we had enough time to kill a basket of chips, two bowls of salsa, one bowl of guacamole, two fajita salads with chicken and a pitcher of margaritas between two people. The two of us. Just the two of us.

And one of us still had safe driving ability by the time we left. Honest. Time was our friend.

Very good Mexican food does exist east of the Rockies! You just have to find it. And you will find it at El Azteca!

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