Mexican Fast Food, Although meats wrapped in tortillas have been consumed in Mexico since the time of the ancient Aztecs. The taco did not originate in America until the early 20th century. The time it took for fast food restaurants to begin providing a completely Americanized taco with ground beef, iceberg lettuce, and a premade taco shell was roughly 50 years from that point. In 1951, Glen W. Bell Jr. set the standard by selling his first hard-shell taco to a customer from his hamburger stand. Hundreds of rivals followed Taco Bell, from the tenacious Del Taco to the forward-thinking Baja Fresh.
Let’s be clear: there are also countless other amazing, Madre y Padre Mexican taquerias all around the United States. This is not a compilation of them. No, this is a tribute to the ubiquitous, heavily Americanized establishments that provide Mexican Fast Food influences; it is not true Mexican food. But it is great when eaten at two in the morning after a night of celebration.
The worst and greatest Mexican, Mexican-inspired, Mexican-ish, and Tex-Mex fast food restaurants in the United States are listed below.
Table of Content:
- Taco Bell
- Taco John’s
- Taco Cabana
- Baja Fresh
- Del Taco
- El Pollo Loco
- Torchy’s Tacos
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
Mexican Fast Food, Given the size and ferocity of Chipotle’s devoted fan base. It’s perilous to place the restaurant near the bottom of a list of Mexican-American foods. These are customers who continued to patronize Chipotle despite the restaurant’s recent history of food-borne illnesses, including salmonella, E. coli, and norovirus. Chipotle devotees are “absolutely willing to throw up a little” to get their fix.
ominous puking The truth must be spoken. Chipotle addicts be damned. We don’t keep grudges when it comes to burritos. But Chipotle has been plagued with foodborne disease nightmare after foodborne illness nightmare, despite closing its outlets to discuss food safety. Most recently, after eating at one Chipotle location in Ohio, hundreds of people contracted Clostridium perfringens, a major cause of food poisoning. Chipotle, indeed!
Inconvenient fees that Chipotle tacks on probably won’t deter you from eating there either. If digestive illnesses aren’t enough to deter you, we’re just saying: the chain is renowned for charging an additional $1.95 for guacamole on top of the price you pay for queso and chips. To put that into perspective, if you indulge in Chipotle with guacamole twice a week. It amounts to about an extra $200 per year.
2. Taco Bell
Let’s make Taco Bell a complimentary sandwich (or taco, perhaps?).
First, the positive According to food historian Jeffrey Pilcher, Taco Bell was primarily to blame for starting America’s infatuation with Mexican food. Which had previously been seen as strange, spicy, and potentially infected. If there hadn’t been a Taco Bell, would our adoration of tacos have grown as quickly, if at all?
The Bad: Arguably the least Mexican Fast Food restaurant on our list is America’s first franchise of “Mexican” restaurants. There are taco and burrito varieties that, while topped with strange, garishly yellow faux cheese, at least resemble their Mexican equivalents. However, there are also monstrosities like Triple Double Crunchwrap and “Mexican” pizza.
Taco Bell’s menu is so unlike Mexican cuisine that when the chain sought to build a store in Mexico in 1992. It confused Mexicans and had to be rebranded. Within two years of its debut, Taco Bell was expelled from Mexico. In 2007, when it attempted to reopen, it was expelled once more.
despite the fact that there are no Taco Bell restaurants in Mexico. The chain was recently named the nation’s top “Mexican restaurant”-a distinction that may say more about the nation’s citizens than it does about Taco Bell.
3. Taco John’s
Korean War veteran John Turner launched the first Taco John’s just six years after Glen Bell launched the first Taco Bell (originally called Taco House). If it tells you anything about the authenticity of the food, you can anticipate it at Taco John’s. It’s that Turner was motivated to start the company after working as a McDonald’s manager. However, early Taco John’s sites didn’t really care about authenticity because they frequently appeared in remote Midwest regions with little to no other Mexican eateries.
The Potato Olés, deep-fried potatoes that may be ordered with nacho toppings on top, are possibly Taco John’s most famous dish. They are similar to nachos but even more unhealthy. Like, unhealthy with 21 grams of saturated fat and 1090 calories.
And after that? Cheese, meat, and taco shells are difficult to muddle up. Our main complaint with Taco John’s is that their “crispy” tacos are frequently fairly wet when they are served. Additionally, since 1989, Taco John has exercised totalitarian control over the name “Taco Tuesday,” which they have trademarked. On occasion, they have sent cease and desist letters to Mexican restaurants that used the term.
4. Taco Cabana
Taco Cabana was not established in Mexico or by a Mexican, like the bulk of significant Mexican Fast Food franchises in America. However, it was established in San Antonio, Texas in the 1970s, a location th at is, at the very least, closer to Mexico in terms of geography and culture than Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Despite its location, Taco Cabana offers a lot of alluring benefits. It is first of all always open. In addition, Taco Cabana offers beer, margaritas, and sangrias, which, as we all know, help even the driest tacos to be more enjoyable to eat. Third, the restaurant offers a whole breakfast taco menu, a uniquely Texas invention made with a soft flour tortilla and a variety of eggs, cheeses, and meats.
The self-serve salsa bar at Taco Cabana allows you to top your food with as much cilantro, pico de gallo, sliced jalapenos, and various salsas as you like.
So why is Taco Cabana’s ranking lower? Aside from their fantastic breakfast tacos, TC foods frequently fall short of the authenticity and flavor of true taquerias or the greater emphasis on fresh ingredients of many rival companies.
5. Baja Fresh
On the other side, the aptly called “Baja Fresh” lays a strong emphasis on fresh ingredients. The California-based chain, which debuted in 1990, was founded about the same time as rival restaurants Chipotle and Qdoba, but it has a significant nutritional advantage.
In 2008, Chipotle committed to serving only naturally reared meat. Since then, through its Food With Integrity campaign. It has made sure that everyone is aware of its dedication to “genuine ingredients.” However, Baja Fresh has been serving grass-fed beef, homemade salsas, and farm-fresh ingredients long before Chipotle started its promotion. A wide menu of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and salads incorporates whole ingredients. The business even has a sizable kids’ menu with options like burritos, platters, taquitos, and quesadillas.
Baja Fresh creates everything fresh, in-store, from scratch, in contrast to the overwhelming majority of Mexican Fast Food restaurants. The restaurant chain takes pride in the fact that none of its locations have even a single freezer or can opener.
Chipotle was established in Denver in the early 1990s, around the same time as Qdoba. Was able to gain a cult following despite being overshadowed by its more successful rival.
Fans are aware that Qdoba has a number of advantages over Chipotle. Most importantly, unlike Chipotle, Qdoba doesn’t charge extra for guacamole or queso. And whereas Qdoba’s traditional queso has long been praised for its velvety texture and smokey flavor. Chipotle’s rendition of the dish was universally seen as a big fat failure. At participating locations, Qdoba offers a more varied menu of tacos, taco salads, burrito bowls, nachos, soups, and even breakfast as Chipotle battles menu fatigue.
The age-old argument between Qdoba and Chipotle has spawned numerous Reddit threads, blind taste tests, and nutrient analyses. In the end, Qdoba triumphs because it offers us significantly more options and doesn’t charge for extras.
7. Del Taco
Speaking of age-old arguments, there is also the Del Taco vs. Taco Bell argument. Like many great rivalries, Del Taco and Taco Bell began as a friendship when Ed Hackbarth. The creator of Del Taco and Glen Bell, the owner and future founder of Taco Bell, were both managers at Bell’s Hot Dog. In 1964, Hackbarth established the first Del Taco in Yermo, California, after the two parted ways.
In 16 states, there are already more than 500 Del Taco establishments. Despite the fact that Taco Bell has more than 6,000 locations worldwide. Del Taco will always be regarded by many West Coasters as the only authentic taco chain.
By embracing Western cuisine, Del Taco distinguishes itself from Taco Bell and the other Mexican chains on this list. This includes full-fledged burgers, crisp, crinkle-cut fries, and more than just tacos that have been Westernized. Your companion wants a burger but you prefer a taco? Del Taco, then.
Rumor has it that you can order any item on the menu “bold” and they will serve it to you topped with fries and their special sauce. This means that, informally, Del Taco serves milkshakes with fries within. So, enough already?
8. El Pollo Loco
One of the few Mexican fast food establishments on this list that was created by Mexicans is El Pollo Loco. Francisco “Pancho” Ochoa was a Mexican immigrant from Sinaloa who had nothing. But ambition and his mother’s family recipe for chicken actually started it. In 1975, he and his wife, Florida, started a chicken stall on the side of the road on Alvarado Street in Los Angeles. When El Pollo Loco first debuted in 1980. It only offered grilled chicken and red salsa, which attracted long lines of famished customers.
The small storefront has since grown to more than 480 sites around the country. Chicken is marinated in citrus and barbecued over an open flame behind the counter at Pollo Loco restaurants. Tacos, quesadillas, and chicken dinners made in the Sinaloan style are among the meals that the staff hand-prepares with freshly grilled chicken. El Pollo Loco is likely the healthiest option on this list and one of the healthiest chain restaurants in the entire United States because of their emphasis on grilled chicken.
9. Torchy’s Tacos
Before opening outlets in Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma, Torchy’s Tacos was another Texas-born taco company. was recognized as the king of all Americanized, quick-service taquerias in Austin for years.
Even just glancing over Torchy’s menu is difficult to do without feeling aroused. With inventive, ethically sourced ingredients like hand-battered fried avocado, portobello mushrooms, slow-roasted green chile pork, and cornmeal-crusted catfish. The Carta concentrates nearly completely on breakfast and classic tacos. In addition to tacos, Torchy’s serves deep-fried chocolate chip cookies, homemade brownies, and street corn with queso fresco. Craft beer, artisanal cocktails, and frozen or on-the-rock margaritas are all acceptable drinks to accompany it.
According to Zagat, Torchy’s also has a hidden menu with seven unusual tacos, such as the Hipster, with panko-fried tuna and green chiles, and the Jack of Clubs, with fried eggs and potatoes. It’s not surprising that Torchy consistently wins honors and draws admirers like former president Barack Obama thanks to its smart, always-changing array of secret and not-so-secret items.
10. Moe’s Southwest Grill
Moe’s is a relatively recent player in the fast-casual Mexican chain restaurant market. It was founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2000. By late 2017, the startup had expanded to 700 locations. It now holds the top spot for Mexican restaurant chains on Ranker, and in 2016 and 2017, it dethroned Chipotle as the nation’s favorite Mexican restaurant chain.
Why is Moe’s Southwest Grill considered so chi-do, then? Despite being almost seven times larger than Baja Fresh, Moe’s is still able to provide the same, if not better, level of freshness. We’re discussing organic tofu, grass-fed steak, and grain-fed pork. At Moe’s, there are no microwaves or freezers, and vegans can order grilled vegetables that have been cooked on a different grill.
No matter where you go in the nation, you’ll always be welcomed with a warm “Welcome to Moe’s!” You will also receive complimentary tortilla chips that have just been freshly cooked, which you can mix with natural salsas from their salsa bar. You shouldn’t anticipate the same friendly greeting or kind giveaways from some other Tex-Mex restaurants with names that rhyme with “Shmipotle.”