Special Report

The Top 15 Mexican Chains in America

15. Torchy’s Tacos
> U.S. sales: $213 million (est.)
> Number of U.S. units: 63

Torchy’s grew out of a food truck in Austin. Today, it has 60-plus locations in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, as well as its native state of Texas. What the Torchy’s menu styles as “Damn Good Tacos” are the specialty, with more than a dozen varieties available. Among these are the Democrat (barbacoa, avocado, and cotija cheese on corn tortillas) and the Republican (grilled jalapeño sausage, pico de gallo, and cheddar jack on a flour tortilla).

14. Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
> U.S. sales: $214 million (est.)
> Number of U.S. units: 148

Another Texas-born chain, this one from Fort Worth, Fuzzy’s has units around the country, all over Texas and also in Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio, Louisiana, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. There are five shrimp or fish tacos on the menu as well as meat versions and a grilled vegetable version. Quesadillas, burritos and burrito bowls, and nachos are among the other offerings.

13. Uncle Julio’s
> U.S. sales: $214 million (est.)
> Number of U.S. units: 35

Still another Texan, founded in Dallas in 1986, Uncle Julio’s features mesquite-grilled fajitas, guacamole made tableside, and chocolate piñatas for dessert. Besides Texas, the chain can be found in Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Maryland.

Source: Matt Howry / Wikimedia Commons

12. Rubio’s Coastal Grill
> U.S. sales: $232 million
> Number of U.S. units: 204

Ralph Rubio can make a fair claim to having introduced Baja-style fish tacos to America — and his “fresh Mex” chain, based in San Diego, certainly popularized them. With the exception of six locations in Florida, Rubio’s remains a western chain, with shops in Arizona, Nevada, and Colorado, as well as California. In addition to fish and other tacos, the menu includes chicken tortilla soup and a Baja chopped bowl.

11. Cafe Rio Mexican Grill
> U.S. sales: $236 million (est.)
> Number of U.S. units: 118

The original Cafe Rio was a stand-alone restaurant in St. George, Utah, opened in 1997. Based today in Salt Lake City, the chain currently has locations in 11 states. Burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, nachos, salads, and more are available. Among the meats offered, are unusual sweet pork barbacoa and spicy Hatch chile pork options.