This Tex-Mex Fast Food Chain Was Just Named the Best Mexican Restaurant in America

03/24/2016 at 12:39 PM ET

Taco Bueno
Taco Bueno

You wouldn’t think the best Mexican food in America would be found at a fast-food restaurant, but the people have spoken — and they beg to differ.

According to Market Force Information’s annual quick service restaurant study, Taco Bueno is Americans’ favorite Mexican chain restaurant. Taco Bueno beat out Chipotle, Qdoba — which tied for first last year — and other national taco establishments such as Taco Bell and Del Taco.

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If you haven’t heard of Taco Bueno, you’re not alone. The Texas-based chain is only in seven states Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Missouri and Arkansas and has only 175 locations. To put things in perspective: Chipotle has over 1,500 locations.

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While less of a national name brand, Taco Bueno, opened in 1967 in Abilene, Texas, has been a Tex-Mex pioneer for years, offering breakfast seven years before Taco Bell. They also have items on their menu called the “Chilida” — a chili- and queso-covered enchilada — and the “Wholotta Platter” — a plate of one taco, Muchado, rice, refried beans, a side of queso. If that doesn’t scream pioneer, we don’t know what does.

“We make our Tex-Mex fresh daily using real ingredients prepared by real cooks in real kitchens. Today’s customers are demanding food that is authentic, that uses real ingredients and is cooked fresh,” the restaurant’s site reads. “We position the brand as a QSR [quick-service-restaurants] Plus concept – great food, prepared fresh in the restaurant yet still available through the drive-thru. Approximately two-thirds of our business is drive-thru.”

RELATED: Does the Taco Cleanse Actually Work? One PEOPLE Staffer’s Brave Journey

Excuse us as we plan our Taco Bueno-themed road trip.

—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda

FILED UNDER: Food , Food News , Restaurants

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Showing 23 comments

Alison Wilder on

Yes, but Chipotle has been poisoning people all over the nation . . .Taco Bell has not, at least not that we know of.

Brooke on

This is hilarious. Taco Bueno is DOG FOOD.

amy on

Considering the Tacos that these restaurants serve are not Mexican, but rather American adaptations of Mexican tacos, this must be ironic. How does a restaurant win as best Mexican restaurant when they don’t serve authentic Mexican cuisine, but an Americanized version of Mexican cuisine.

nope on

lol, brooke!
never heard of this brand before reading this article.
i looked up their menu and it looks booooooring.

Sarah Linn on

I LOVE Taco Bueno…had them in texas and VERYgood

Emma on

Taco Bueno doesn’t hold a candle to what it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. I miss the flavors of those days. Still, it’s usually our first choice for quick Tex Mex.

Katie on

Taco Bueno is TEX-MEX, not Mexican. Texans love Tex-Mex, and it has a unique flavor. Texans all know that real Mexican food is different, and has many types of dishes other than tacos….Sheesh, some of you people have no knowledge of regional foods in the USA, apparently. No offense, but no one in TX is saying it’s Mexican food…we KNOW it’s Tex-Mex….

Guest on

COME TO SOUTH FLORIDA PLEASE!We have the worst Mexican restaurants around and I’m not putting Chipotle in the mix because I never ate there.

Eva Garcia on

There is a reason why all of their locations closed down in the Houston area. Houstonians know good food especially Tex-Mex food and this was NOT good! Can’t believe it was voted best Mexican restaurant in America.

Connie on

Amy you need reading comprehension. Article says TEX-MEX! There is a huge difference. It means Americanized (Texas), get it?

MJ on

Chico’s Tacos Rules!

Mary on

Or Taco Bueno is GROSS! Even worse than Taco Bell.

VA on

Hmm…I’ve eaten at several Taco Buenos and have never heard of the Muchado. Perhaps you mean Muchaco? Which is about the only thing I like at Taco Bueno. With that said, it is much better than Taco Bell. But, I think I’ll continue eating at the local joint near my house that is fresh and more appealing.

Guest on

This is surprising. IMHO, Taco Bueno is disgusting. Old dried out food. The one close to our house is dirty and smells funny. I would have picked Taco Hell over this gross place.

Too Shy on

I grew up in SoCal, and love the Mexican food. When we moved to Texas, my first that was ‘what the heck is this stuff?’ lol

Judy on

How can it be AMERICA’s Favorite when it is only in 7 states?

Anonymous on

They had these in Nebraska for a short time also. But everyone I know refused to go after the first couple tries because you would end up in the bathroom for hours after. Not good food and definitely not worth the results it created.

Amy on

@Connie you need reading comprehension the article title states and in the article it states that it was named the “best mexican restaurant” in the US… The food they serve is NOT Mexican, it is Tex-Mex which is NOT the same thing.

wacojoe on

Used to be tasteless gruel, but I haven’t tried them in years. Maybe I’ll give them another shot because Tex-Mex in San Antonio is pretty much tasteless gruel as a matter of course anyway.

If you want super Tex-Mex, try Tuppenamba in Dallas or Casa De Castillo in Waco.

dwallace on

This reads like a paid ad because it IS a paid ad.
TPG, who owns burger king, just bought taco bueno and this is an attempt at trying to advertise to the 18-25 crowd because the main patrons to this company are 65+.

Jeana on

Taco bueno never said they were the best mexican restraunt. But it clearly states this tex-mex restraunt. If u hail from any pf these states then surely u know how much we love our tex-mex. But seriously, everythig from beans the taco meat grilled chicken and vegetables for sizzling fajitas, the juicy steak, fresh made guac, salsa (original red and firehouse), fresh pico amd cilantro, all sounds better than frozen meat from a bag already prepared. . Taco bueno is all made daily. And dont forget the inhouse fried chips taco shells mexi cups , cinnamon chips, and chips, just to name some are alll fried daily. And dont get me started on portion sizes (ahem) big freakin taco…. so yea for fast food thru a drive thru….id say its the most fresh and the best.

Michele on

How the heck is it “Americans” favorite when the majority of us haven’t had it? I love Mexican food but I guarantee if I’d had it, it wouldn’t be my favorite. Its not even real Mexican.

Bender on

Let’s not forget Taco Cabana

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