Are Moe’s chips and queso gluten-free?

Moe’s Southwest Grill is a popular Tex-Mex restaurant chain known for its burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and most famously, chips and queso. For those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease, enjoying cheesy chips and queso can be tricky due to the potential for cross-contamination with gluten. So an important question is: are Moe’s chips and queso gluten-free?

The Short Answer

The short answer is yes, Moe’s chips and queso can be gluten-free, but customers need to specify that they need a gluten-free order. Moe’s uses shared frying oil for their chips, so chips cooked in the regular fryer may be cross-contaminated. However, Moe’s has procedures in place to accommodate gluten-free requests. When you order gluten-free chips and queso, Moe’s will change their gloves, use fresh oil in a separate fryer, and avoid cross-contamination to deliver you gluten-free chips and queso.

Are Moe’s Tortilla Chips Gluten-Free?

Moe’s tortilla chips that are fried in the regular shared fryer oil are not gluten-free. The shared oil likely contains traces of gluten from menu items like soft flour tortillas cooked in the same oil. However, if you request gluten-free chips, Moe’s has a process to accommodate this:

  • They will change their gloves before preparing your gluten-free order.
  • They will thoroughly clean and sanitize the gluten-free fryer.
  • They will fry a small batch of tortilla chips separately in the gluten-free fryer.
  • They will use a clean basket to scoop the chips.

Following these steps prevents cross-contamination with gluten, allowing Moe’s to serve gluten-free tortilla chips. So while the regular chips are not gluten-free, gluten-free chips are available with a special request.

What About Their Corn Tortilla Chips?

Moe’s also offers corn tortilla chips in addition to their traditional flour tortilla chips. Since corn tortillas are naturally gluten-free, are the corn chips gluten-free as well? Unfortunately, no. Even though corn tortillas don’t contain gluten, Moe’s still fries their corn tortilla chips in the same shared oil as the flour tortilla chips. So the corn chips can also pick up traces of gluten during cooking. To get gluten-free corn tortilla chips, you still need to request the special preparation.

Is Moe’s Queso Gluten-Free?

Moe’s queso dip is made with pasteurized processed cheese product, milk, heavy cream, jalapeño peppers, and seasonings. None of these ingredients inherently contain gluten. However, there is still a possibility of cross-contamination with gluten due to shared cooking equipment and prep areas. To get gluten-free queso, request that they change gloves, use fresh cheese, and avoid cross-contamination with other ingredients. When ordered with this request, Moe’s queso can be prepared gluten-free.

Can They Make Queso with Corn Chips?

Yes, when you request gluten-free chips and queso, Moe’s can make your queso with corn tortilla chips instead of flour chips. Just let them know you need gluten-free corn chips with your queso. They have the procedures in place to safely change gloves, use fresh cheese, fry the corn chips separately, and assemble your order without contamination.

Key Tips for Ordering Gluten-Free at Moe’s

Here are some key tips to remember when ordering gluten-free chips and queso from Moe’s Southwest Grill:

  • Tell them you need a gluten-free order when ordering chips and queso.
  • Request fresh oil and gloves to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Ask for corn tortilla chips fried in the gluten-free fryer if you want corn chips.
  • Verify they will avoid contamination when making the queso.
  • Check that they understand it’s an allergy, not just a preference.
  • Thank them for taking the time to prepare your gluten-free order safely.

Placing your order clearly and politely can help ensure you get what you need. The employees are trained on gluten-free prep, so they should be able to accommodate your requests.

What Menu Items are Gluten-Free at Moe’s?

In addition to chips and queso, the following menu items at Moe’s can also be prepared gluten-free:

  • Soft corn tortillas or hard taco shells
  • Corn tortilla chips
  • Flour tortillas (with gluten-free request)
  • Burritos in a bowl without tortilla
  • Salads without crispy tortilla strips
  • Chicken, steak, carnitas, barbacoa (without sauce)
  • Beans, rice, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo
  • Chips, queso, guacamole (with gluten-free request)

Most of Moe’s menu can be adapted to be gluten-free. Simply communicate your needs clearly with the employees when ordering.

Items to Avoid

Some menu items that are likely not gluten-free due to a high risk of cross-contamination include:

  • Flour tortillas from regular prep
  • Crispy corn tortilla strips
  • Items cooked in shared oil like empanadas
  • Salsas and dressings that may contain thickening agents

When in doubt, ask the employees which items they recommend avoiding for a gluten-free diet.

What Have Other Gluten-Free Diners Reported About Moe’s?

Review sites like Find Me Gluten Free and have mixed reports on dining gluten-free at Moe’s. Here’s a summary of what some diners are saying:

  • Employees are not always knowledgeable about gluten-free prep.
  • There’s a risk of cross-contamination from shared surfaces.
  • Some locations quickly catch on and make accommodations.
  • Experiences vary across different restaurant locations.
  • Managers are usually responsive to feedback on gluten-free processes.
  • Dedicated gluten-free areas are not common.

Based on reviews, experiences can vary at different Moe’s locations based on the staff’s gluten-free training. Inspecting your meal and asking questions is recommended when eating at a new location.

Tips from Gluten-Free Diners

Here are some tips suggested by other gluten-free Moe’s customers:

  • Speak directly to a manager if employees seem unsure.
  • Stick to naturally gluten-free menu items.
  • Ask for ingredients lists for sauces and dressings.
  • Request fresh gloves and prep tools.
  • Visit earlier or later to avoid the lunch rush.

Taking precautions and providing clear instructions can help increase the chances of a safe gluten-free meal.

Should You Eat Here If You Are Gluten-Free?

Moe’s can be an accommodating option for gluten-free diners with proper precautions:

  • Safe menu choices are available with special requests.
  • Items are customizable based on your needs.
  • Employees receive gluten-free training.
  • Managers are authorized to make accommodations.
  • Procedures are in place for avoiding cross-contamination.

However, because of shared prep areas, the risk cannot be fully eliminated. Whether Moe’s is a good option depends on your sensitivity level:

  • Not sensitive: Can likely eat safely with precautions.
  • Moderately sensitive: Exercise caution and inspect your order.
  • Highly sensitive: Safest to avoid due to risk of trace glutens.

Talk to a restaurant manager beforehand to determine if they can accommodate your needs.

Safest Menu Choices

These menu items tend to be safest for gluten-free meals:

  • Corn tortilla tacos, bowls, salads
  • Burrito bowls without tortillas
  • Fajita plates over rice with corn tortillas
  • Carnitas, barbacoa or grilled chicken/steak/shrimp
  • Chips fried in dedicated gluten-free oil

Sticking to these simple fresh foods prevents the need for complex substitutions or modifications.

Should You Order Delivery?

Ordering takeout or delivery instead of dining-in reduces risks since all food prep happens out of your sight. Delivery adds even more uncontrolled factors.

Delivery can work but requires extra communication upfront:

  • Place the order directly with the restaurant by phone.
  • Speak with a manager to review a gluten-free plan.
  • Ensure instructions will be clearly communicated to the kitchen.
  • Ask for sauces, toppings on the side to add yourself.
  • Request labeling of gluten-free items.
  • Tip generously for their extra effort.

Trying a location first for takeout is wise before relying on delivery. It allows you to inspect orders and establish direct communication.

Third-Party Delivery Risks

Services like DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats can deliver Moe’s, but involve additional risks like:

  • Menu inaccuracies leading to incorrect orders.
  • Delivery drivers lack training on safe gluten-free transport.
  • Bags may not be sealed or labeled appropriately.
  • Greater chance of cross-contamination from transport in shared bags/vehicles.

Without directly communicating with the restaurant staff, using third-party apps is less ideal for gluten-free delivery.

Top 5 Tips for Eating Gluten-Free at Moe’s

Here are the top 5 tips for safely eating gluten-free at Moe’s Southwest Grill:

  1. Ask for fresh gloves + prep tools to reduce cross-contact.
  2. Request an allergy-friendly clean fryer for chips.
  3. Stick to simple whole ingredients like grilled meats.
  4. Ask for sauces and dressings on the side.
  5. Speak to a manager if you get uncertain answers.

Following these tips sets you up for gluten-free success when dining at Moe’s. With precautions, you can enjoy delicious Tex-Mex favorites without the gluten.

The Bottom Line

At Moe’s Southwest Grill, gluten-free chips, queso, and menu items are possible with special requests to avoid cross-contamination. Experiences vary across locations based on staff training. Inspecting your meal and communicating directly pays off when eating gluten-free at Moe’s. While risks remain in a shared kitchen, they take steps to safely accommodate gluten-free guests. Overall, Moe’s can be a tasty Tex-Mex option for the gluten-free diet with proper precautions.

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