America’s 15 Best Tex-Mex Chain Restaurants

Tacos, burritos, and enchiladas galore

Baja Fresh got its start in 1990, and focuses on fresh, never-frozen ingredients.

The votes have been tabulated, and we are pleased to announce the 15 best Tex-Mex chain restaurants in America.

We rounded up a list of 50 top Tex-Mex chain restaurants around the country and asked you to determine which one is the best based on ingredient quality, service, selection, and overall experience.

Now we have narrowed it down to the top 15, based on your votes.

America's 15 Best Tex-Mex Chains (Slideshow)

Americans love Tex-Mex. There is a reason why there are thousands of these restaurants around the country. But what are the origins of this cuisine, and why do we care so much?

The concept of Tex-Mex is relatively new. The first trace of it popped up in the 1940s, according to Food Timeline. But it didn’t gain momentum until the 1970s when it was deemed trendy.

Tex-Mex gets its name from the restaurants that opened in Southwest cities with large Mexican populations, and is a take on regional cuisine in Mexico. Some may also argue that it is a version of Mexican food prepared by Texan cooks.

Fast forward to today, and Tex-Mex is available all around the world.

While it’s no debate that there’s a big difference between authentic Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex (you won’t find a hard-shell taco in Mexico), both Tex-Mex and Mexican foods rely on the same basic ingredients: tortillas, rice, beans, beef, chicken, pork, sauce, and cheese (though traditional Mexican fare is a bit more subtle flavor-wise, and usually includes fresh white cheese instead of cheddar).

Even if their menus might be similar, some chains are arguably better than others. And this is why we asked you to be the judge, and put it to the vote.

From the rice and beans to the burritos, chips, and salsa, Americans are undoubtedly hooked on Tex-Mex. Click here to learn which Tex-Mex chain is America’s favorite.


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This is one of the most infuriating things I have read in awhile.

I moved to Michigan from Texas recently and have been seriously jonsing for good food. So a google search brings forth this joke of an article. I mean, did you even ask anyone from Texas?

"Some may also argue that it is a version of Mexican food prepared by Texan cooks." Please, yes, let me argue.

The first culinary evidence of the fajitas with the cut of meat, the cooking style (directly on a campfire or on a grill), and the Spanish nickname going back as far as the 1930s in the ranch lands of South and West Texas.

Tex-Mex is most popular in the state of Texas. Tex-Mex is very different from the Southwest cuisine found in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah. In some places, particularly outside of Texas, "Tex-Mex" is used to describe a localized version of Mexican cuisine. It is common for all of these foods to be referred to as "Mexican food" in Texas, other parts of the United States, and some other countries. In other ways, it is Southern cooking using the commodities from Mexican culture. In many parts of the U.S. outside of Texas the term is synonymous with Southwestern cuisine.

Now, I'll let it slide that these are chain places and generally, chain style restaurants are usually not going to be the pick of the litter for good food. But Taco Bell? Are you serious?
What about Abuelos? That's some dang decent Tex-Mex and with locations in 15 states, I think that qualifies as a chain.
And for the sake of argument (only because this is an "America's favorite"), Here are a few Dallas only locations that are better suited for this list than 90% of the garbage listed:

La Hacienda Ranch (5 locations across Dallas)
El Fenix (20 locations across Dallas)
Agave Azul (2 locations in North Dallas)

Sorry for the rant, I really am. But my time in Michigan has made me realize how ignorant the rest of the country is on what Tex-Mex is. Or even food with flavor and not the bland stuff they serve here.


Well, that was disappointing... No longer will I get excited when I see a "best of" list by The Daily Meal.

diaf's picture

This is quite possibly the most idiotic thing on the internet. Okay, not really. But seriously, Pappasito's 15 -and Taco Bell. Wait, did I read that right? Yes, TACO BELL at 6? I suggest you promptly die in a fire.

Craig Jauvtis's picture

Taco Bell number 6 HA HA HA

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