Mercado Juarez is a locally-owned authentic Mexican restaurant with a great atmosphere and several metroplex locations.
One of their representatives was kind enough to let me know what vegan options they have.
- “Mercado Juarez can offer a green salad with guacamole for $5.50.”
- The green salad is iceberg lettuce.
- All of their dressings contain dairy, and they do not have oil or vinegar.
- Their beans contain lard.
- The salsa contains chicken stock. (I have to say, WTF?)
- The chips are not vegan.
- The corn tortillas are vegan.
- The pico de gallo is vegan.
- The guacamole is vegan.
Vegan options include: a salad with guacamole, no dressing; OR an order of corn tortillas, an order of guacamole, and an order of pico de gallo for DIY tacos.
They have Sizzing Veggie fajitas (sauteed with butter) that is served with veggie rice (made with butter). I am not sure why they could not sautee this with oil and substitute a side salad for the rice.
I asked for the Spinach and Avocado Quesadillas without cheese and butter and with corn tortillas instead, and was told they would be “inedible if prepared the way you request.” I politely answered that I eat quesadillas this way at many other area Mexican restaurants all the time, and they are indeed delicious. I’d like to give them credit for trying, but I just can’t, in this case. Oil is just as easy to cook with as butter, and veggies + avocado + tortillas binds just as well as with cheese.
My contact suggested that I might have better luck if I asked the manager on duty if the kitchen would be willing to prepare these two dishes the way I requested, but that he would not be able to make any promises.
I’ll be the first to admit that a vegan diet can be cumbersome to navigate, but in many cases, we don’t have control over where we eat (think business luncheons, birthdays, group outings, etc.) It frustrates me when there are vegan items available in the kitchen, but a restaurant is unwilling to combine them into one dish. My frustration doesn’t come from a sense of entitlement– I realize not every restaurant specializes in plant-based eating. But when there are veggies readily available in the kitchen, what does it hurt to be creative? It doesn’t seem they’re willing to be creative, and as a food enthusiast, I find that sad.
Normally, I’m not too pushy with restaurant personnel, neither online nor in person. I’ll generally bite the bullet, eat an overpriced, dry salad and leave hungry, but in this case, I sincerely wanted a clear answer because I wanted to be able to transmit that knowledge to my readers. I had to exchange six separate emails with my contact to glean this information, and I felt pretty guilty for having to be so pushy. I explained:
“I sincerely want to be able to give you guys a great recommendation to share online so others can have a good idea of what to order at your restaurant and not be bothersome to any staff. Vegans, as a general rule, don’t like to inconvenience waitstaff or kitchen staff. We don’t like to ask for special favors, and we want to come into a restaurant with a good idea of what we can eat in order to make things as easy as possible for everyone.
I hope you don’t think I’m grilling you, pushing my ideals or being argumentative. I’m trying to find out as much as possible beforehand because in many cases, we don’t have control over where we eat (think business luncheons, birthdays, group outings, etc.) For some vegans, there’s definitely an ideological agenda. But for a great many of us, myself included, food allergies make this way of eating less of a choice and more of a necessity. I appreciate your willingness to help me. I really do want to help drive business to your restaurant and be able to promote you guys with a smile.”
I’ll certainly give my contact five stars for effort. But overall, I can’t reccommend Mercado Juarez as a vegan-friendly restaurant. It will do if you’re stuck there because others have chosen it, but as a fun place to enjoy on your own time? Unfortunately, no. I would love to be able to support this local, family-run business with my money and take my family with me to enjoy their food, but I can’t justify paying $5.50 plus tip for a salad with no dressing.