Gluten-Free In Las Vegas: Gonzalez Y Gonzalez

This is it. No backside for more options.

This is it. No backside for more options.

Mexican food is something I avoided eating out after having to give up dairy. Fixing it at home without cheese was fine because I could use diced avocado to replace the cheese texture for me. But eating out at Mexican restaurants while dairy-free is just not the same at all. Since I was able to tolerate cheese while we were traveling I decided I needed some Mexican food. 

We chose Gonzalez Y Gonzalez at the New York New York Hotel & Casino (again) because they have a dedicated gluten-free menu. It’s rare in my world that I find Mexican restaurants with dedicated gluten-free menus. Granted, the menu has only three items, but it is better than trying to go through the entire menu and rule things out. As always, I gravitate to the tacos to tell me how good the restaurant is as a whole. If the tacos are well-seasoned, chances are everything else on the menu is good. Also, I always go for the guacamole to tell me how good they are, too. A condiment/side dish made in-house should always please the palate.

Tacos Carbon

Tacos Carbon

The guacamole was made table side and we were able to choose what went into it. I like my guacamole without a lot of frills because I like the avocado to shine. And when avocado shines, my mouth is happy. For whatever reason, I said okay to jalapeño in the guacamole and nearly choked later in surprise at the heat as it completely by-passed my tongue and hit my throat. No bueno. The guacamole was good and the fact that it is made at the table made it better knowing it was fresh.

The tacos were seasoned reasonably well. Not as well as I would have liked, but considering we were much closer to the Mexican border than we are in Ohio, the quality of Mexican food increases exponentially. Seriously. I never understood how good I had it in Southern California until I was in Kentucky and everything was just…blah. It was not an issue when I was home in Hawai`i. I always made my own because if I went out, it was for local food, not Mexican. Unless I was going to Compadres with friends, but that’s a different story. Suffice it to say, my mouth was a lot happier with the Tacos Carbon than they are with the Mexican food in Cincinnati (and Kentucky).

How do you follow up a good Mexican meal while in Las Vegas? Walk over to the Coca-Cola store and M&M store, of course!

I may not be able to have M&Ms anymore, but it doesn't stop me from enjoying the store!

I may not be able to have M&Ms anymore, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying the store!

Taco Salad

Taco Salad

Taco salad is one of my favorite things.  Probably because I love tacos and taco salad is like having tacos on a grander scale.  Tacos are my measurement of a good Mexican restaurant.  Something sadly lacking in the Mid-West (and the upper part of the South).  For me, taco meat should be well seasoned.  And by seasoned I mean full of spices.  Bland taco meat is unforgivable.  Much like the unforgivable curses in the world of Harry Potter.

If I’m unhappy with the tacos I get, I usually say to Chaz, “I make it better.”  He’ll usually nod in agreement.  I think that’s just to placate me though.  I can get pretty opinionated about the Mexican restaurants out here.  Can you blame me?  I lived in North County, Southern California for a few years.  Authentic Mexican food is everywhere.  Visits back to see my best friend would always include Mexican food at some point.  I believe there were a few places she took me where I just sat back and rolled my eyes from sheer joy.   Or maybe I exaggerate.

I used to serve these with tortilla chips, normally made by myself.  I went through the evolution of frying them myself to baking them.  Baking is definitely faster and easier on the feet.  I don’t do tortilla chips much anymore and I didn’t make any this last time.

Since this is one of my first original creations from way back, it has been made many different ways with many different proteins.  Ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, chopped chicken, tofu, beans.  So, whatever your preference for your protein, it is doable.  Just note that when using chicken, turkey, beans, or tofu, you will also need to add the step of oiling your pan.   You can also do a half and half of meat and beans if you want to cut back on your meat budget for the week.

Taco Salad – serves 4 -6

1 pound ground beef (or protein of your choice)

1 onion, chopped and divided in half.

1 tablespoon, cumin

1 tablespoon, chili powder

1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt

1 head lettuce (I used red leaf for the picture), chopped

tomatoes, chopped

avocado, chopped

black olives, sliced (I buy the pre-sliced ones, it saves me time and from eating half the can while slicing them)

Heat a skillet over medium.  Add ground beef and brown.  If you are using other proteins as mentioned above, remember to oil your pan first.   Add salt to taste and then add half the onions.  Stir.  Add in the cumin, chili powder, and cayenne.  Stir occasionally until meat is cooked through.  Remove from heat.  To plate, cover bottom of the plate with lettuce and top with ground beef.  Sprinkle with tomatoes, onions, and black olives.  Add avocado around the edges of your salad.

If you are able to eat cheese or if you are dairy-free and use dairy-free cheeses, you can add it after your ground beef.  In my dairy days, I would used shredded colby jack.  I am not fond of the dairy-free cheese so I don’t bother with it.  I just add more avocado so I get the similar texture from the avocados.