Traveling with a food allergy is challenging. I am gluten intolerant and my son is allergic to dairy and we have to be very cautious about food when traveling, especially internationally. I tend to be a bit skeptical that the language barrier may hinder complete understanding that I must not eat gluten versus I don’t like gluten. The last thing I want, is to be sick from eating gluten while on vacation.
I haven’t found a gluten free resort yet, but on a recent trip to Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, I found the best gluten free pizza and croissants I’ve ever tried. They also offer gluten free bread, rolls and many other gluten free dishes. The food at Villa Del Palmar was a Celiac gluten free heaven. The three restaurants at Villa Del Palmar offer gluten free dishes and they are very accommodating about customizing dishes to be gluten free.
My first meal at Villa Del Palmar was lunch at Casa Mia, the outdoor restaurant steps from the pool and the beach. They are known for their wood oven pizzas and tacos. I had written off pizza as an option, but to my surprise they offered gluten free pizza. Have you ever had a bite of something that tasted so good you didn’t believe it was gluten free? That was my reaction to the gluten free pizza at Casa Mia. It was the best gluten free crust I’ve ever tasted.
Dinner my first evening at the resort was a buffet on the beach. There were elaborate food stations set up with everything from salmon and chicken on the grill to Executive chef Alfonso Peregrina smoking clams on the beach. In general, eating gluten free in Mexico tends to be fairly easy for me because of the amount of fish and use of corn over wheat flour. For dinner, I stuck to seafood to play it safe. That didn’t mean sacrifice, because there was a ceviche station at the buffet with numerous types of fresh fish along with onion, jalapeno, tomatoes and everything needed to make the dish. Each plate of ceviche was made to order and delicious.
The next morning we headed out at the break of dawn for a deep sea fishing excursion. The hotel packed lunch for the group including a gluten free option for me and a dairy free option for my son. When lunchtime rolled around and we unpacked the sandwiches, no one could tell which was gluten free. All but one were wraps. The remaining lunch was a sandwich on what looked like regular bread that looked like foccacia. It wasn’t labeled gluten free and it looked too non-gluten free for me to take a chance.
What I didn’t know quite yet was chef Peregrina has either mastered gluten free baking or brought in the best gluten free baker in Mexico. I learned this later that evening when the waiter sat a dinner roll down on my bread plate and said “a gluten free roll”. That is a treat for anyone avoiding gluten. Dinner rolls are almost never an option dining out.
When I dine at a restaurant, there are constant questions with the waitstaff about what dishes may have ingredients that contain gluten. There is a big difference between not wanting food with gluten and not being able to eat food with gluten. I usually ask “is this gluten free” as I am ordering and confirm when the dish arrives. If you are gluten intolerant or have Celiac disease double checking everything you eat while traveling is probably true for you as well.
Every meal at the resort, when my dish was delivered, the waiter would set it down and say “the gluten free option”. I wish all restaurants would do this! It was a small thing that Villa Del Palmar waiters did, but it made my meals worry free.
The breakfast buffet at the Market Restaurant had many of the usual offerings like fresh fruit, cereals, cheese tray and omelet station. It wasn’t until I walked past the plates of breads and pastries that I notices a gluten free sign on a plate of croissants. I haven’t had a croissant since I started my gluten free diet and they are a food I have missed. I was so excited to spread butter on the gluten free croissant and have a bite (but first, I checked with the staff to verify it was gluten free). Okay, I know I must seem paranoid, but I honestly couldn’t believe there were gluten free croissants!
At Danzante, the fine dining steakhouse and seafood restaurant devoted to fusion cuisine, I was able to enjoy the mango and avocado salad, tortilla soup with vanilla cheese and squash blossom, parrot fish with diablo sauce and desserts like the duo of chocolate mouse served with ice cream, crushed nuts and white and dark chocolate. Chef Peregrina and sous chef Gerardo Garcia Martinez execute delicious dishes for the resort and I didn’t feel like I was deprived or not experiencing the food the rest of the diners could order.
Another evening we dined at the Market Restaurant and I enjoyed arugula and spinach salad with a mustard dressing topped with grapefruit and candied nuts as well as poblano cream soup with asparagus, filet mignon served with shrimp and for dessert, cheesecake with vanilla ice cream.
I have one regret though, which is I wish I ate the sandwich on the fishing trip. I bet it was delicious!
If you are gluten intolerant or living with Celiac disease Villa Del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto should be at the top of your travel list.
My disclaimer: If you have Celiac disease, do your research before you visit. Talk to the chef about possible cross contamination for all dishes including baked goods and pizza.