Best Mexican Chains In The United States, Ranked

By Doug Norrie | Updated

The Best Mexican Food Chains

When it comes to Mexican food in the United States, this kind of fare has seen massive growth over the years as more and more restaurants and chains have started serving burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads.

And with the widespread nature of these restaurants, there comes widespread opinion about which are the best. Marketforce has some stats around Mexican chain brand loyalty and some of the results could be surprising depending on where you land with some of these brands.

7. Qdoba

As with any list, we have to start somewhere and that place needs to be at the bottom. Now, Mexican food, unlike many other types of chains like pizza or burgers, does seem to have a higher bar across the industry. Which, overall, is a good sign. But in terms of customer loyalty Qdoba does rank the lowest of the group.

They haven’t been around as long as some of the others (started in 1995) but do operate much in the same way as the other popular chains with made-to-order burritos, bowls, and more.

The ingredients are relatively fresh but there have been complaints about ratios from time to time. Building burritos is an art form, and this place doesn’t quite get all the way there.

6. Del Taco

You have to live west of the Rockies to get yourself into a Del Taco but there’s a reason they’ve been able to expand in this region over their almost 70 years in business. Unlike some of the others on this list, Del Taco does have other offerings outside of the Tex-Mex fare, and you can grab burgers and fries there as well.

They are open late for the night owls and have a strong-ish customer loyalty base among their core folks. But they are spread a little thin on the offerings overall.

5. Taco Bell

Didn’t expect to see this one so “high” on the list, did you? Taco Bell has been the butt of jokes over the years, and definitely trends more “fast food” than anyone else on this list of best Mexican food chains. They have more than 7,000 locations which also makes it the most popular in terms of overall market dominance.

But, of course, the cheap nature of the menu is going to put it in a certain class, somewhat all its own. That being said, from a brand standpoint they still rank high because people love the consistency, and at this point, definitely know what they are getting when making a Taco Bell run.

4. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Moe’s has been around for more than two decades now after starting in Atlanta, Georgia. They fall into the fast-casual bucket and offer a bunch of customizable options around burritos, bowls, and more.

The locations are known for a bit of a more vibrant atmosphere than some of the competition and the portion sizes definitely rank among the best here. Plus, who doesn’t love the free chip and salsa bar? 

3. Chipotle

From this writer’s standpoint, it was a bit surprising to not see Chipotle even higher on the list when it came to brand loyalty. But there’s a possibility that with big growth has come some problematic pieces with their overall output.

That being said, Chipotle still has a commitment to using fresh ingredients, and their style of ordering offers a bar by which others have tried to mimic. Whether it’s burritos, bowls, tacos, or salads, Chipotle has been consistently among the best Mexican food chains for a reason.

2. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco started in 1975 in Mexico and brings a bit of a different style and vibe than some of the others on this list. Chicken is their core offering (obviously) and there’s a reason customers flock back for the signature taste.

You’ll have to mostly venture to California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada to get your hands on this marinated goodness, but it is well worth the trip. Like others on this list, they do offer burritos, etc, but the chicken is where it’s at.

1. Taco John’s

Should you take a trip to the Midwest *only* to visit a Taco John’s? No, probably not, but the fact that it’s even in the discussion says a lot about this Mexican food chain. Ranking number one in brand loyalty is no small thing, though they did it by mere decimal points over El Pollo Loco.

Taco John’s has the Potato Olés, as well as tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. There are only about 400 locations nationwide, so it’s a bit tougher to stumble upon, but fans love this place for a reason.