HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


What's the best Mexican fast food chain?

I've tried a lot of them,Chipotle,Taco Johns,Taco Bell,Taco Cabana,Taco time,Del Taco,and on,and on,but only one of them do i really like(other than Taco Cabana's breakfast burrito,as long as you know what to order on it)and that is Taco Bueno...really tasty affordable Mex,with really good salsa....what do you think?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Freebirds World Burrito
    small chain in Texas
    Get A Monster

    3 Replies
      1. re: cameronaus

        Freebirds World Burrito is based off of and licenced from the original Freebirds in Isla Vista, CA near UC Santa Barbara. It's good but I wouldn't call it Mexican food; more like gringoified Mexican food.

        1. re: oerdin

          Yes that's true, but seriously, is anything that will get mentioned on this thread, or the chain board at all, able to be considered Mexican. Let's not criticize bronze for not being gold.

      2. I guess I'd have to say Taco Cabana though I only go for the convenience of a drive-thru and only for a breakfast or an advertised special. Kind of pricey for fast food and skimpy portions, if you ask me. Too many other options (taco trucks, taquerias, etc.) I've never been to Chipotle but have had food brought to me from there by co-workers -- I'm not fond of burritos to begin with so I've never been moved to go there on my own. Taco Bell -- no way. Dell Taco lasted a little over a year here.

        Taco Bueno was here about 25 years ago but pulled out, probably about the time Taco Cabana and their early competitor, 2 Pesos, came in. I remember them as being good but that was a long time ago.

        4 Replies
        1. re: oltheimmer

          I remember two pesos. We went there once. The building was once a bank they actually used part of the drive thru bank system to have a food delivery system. Now it's a hooters.

          1. re: kindofabigdeal

            So, what do they use the drive through for now?

            1. re: kindofabigdeal

              There was a chain of Two Pesos in Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix. It was the place to go for 20 year-olds after a night of drinking. I think that in order to tolerate food, you had to first imbibe alcohol. Not a good sign. I wonder if Two Pesos is elsewhere in the country.

              1. re: ginael

                I think there used to be one in Tucson, and you're right ginael, it was definately a place where a few beers made the food taste better.

          2. I'm a big fan of baja fresh myself. Love thier nachos, and their chicken tacos are great when I want something simple and fresh tasting. I'm a big fan of their chips, and they have decent salsa as chains go. Oh and their fish tacos are pretty decent, though the fish can be a bit soggy sometimes.

            I used to love Taco C's chicken fajitas, but over the past couple of years their quality seems to have gone downhill. Also liked their tortillas, but again, not too sure about them anymore...

            6 Replies
            1. re: Aloo0628

              I was thinking Baja Fresh as well. Their stuff is decent across the board and at least seems fresher than most other chains. I do also like Qdoba, though I make no claims about authenticity, healthfullness nor freshness. Whatever combination of stuff they put together, I find pleasing.

              1. re: Aloo0628

                I would definitely agree with you on Baja Fresh. They are the only fast food mexican chain that has somewhat decent food. You can get some pretty healthy options there and everything tastes fresh, not like its out of a can as at some other places.
                I also sometimes enjoy Qdoba, but I don't think its the best. Their taco salad is pretty decent and I also like the fact that you can get everything "naked." Good for healthy eaters like myself!

                1. re: Aloo0628

                  I'm with you on the nachos at Baja Fresh! They're some of my favorite nachos ever.

                  1. re: mollyomormon

                    I'm also for baja fresh!!! Or El Pollo Loco!!!

                  2. re: Aloo0628

                    Baja Fresh is great. Unfortunately, it closed down in the area and the closest replacement in the area is Chipotle, which is good, but not the same.

                    1. re: madgreek

                      Chipotle is pretty good, but Baja Fresh is king.

                  3. Rubio's ...small chain on the west coast. excellent fish tacos!

                    5 Replies
                      1. re: ibstatguy

                        3rd, Rubio's is great. Onthe other hand, I'll NEVER go back to Baja Stale!

                      2. re: baseballfan

                        The grand irony for me, was that Rubios used to be even BETTER!! I went to school in San Diego before their big roll out. And it was such a treat to have (We used to take family trips to Ensenada as a kid). But then their tortillas turned smaller and icky... THeir portions got skimpy. They began to use industrial ingredients... Their Super Nachos used to be one of my BIGGEST treats... now I can't even look at them...

                        I work nearby one and yes, they are still a top work choice for me (heck anything slathered in the Chipotle salsa would be good!), it's just that they used to be SO much better... it's hard for me to forget that..


                        1. re: Dommy

                          they still make their shrimp quesedilla as good as ever. You just have to request it the "old way" with the salsa and guacamole on the inside, cooked, and - of course - no sour cream!

                        2. re: baseballfan

                          Gotta agree on Rubio's. Great fish tacos.

                        3. That would be Sanborns. Not really fast, but not that much in Mexico is :)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Veggo

                            MMMM 'love fish,and shrimp tacos, wish we could get them here in Fl,I used to stop at a place in Fontana Ca,called La Chiquta, for those....really miss them.

                          2. It's in no way authentic, but I really like Tiajuana Flats- fresh ingredients and easy to find things on the menu that have a reasonable amount of fat in them

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: beachmouse

                              yes they are decent,i didnt mention them because it's one of many i have tried,good tacos,and salsa.

                            2. Baja Fresh
                              El Torito

                              For those that live in So. Cal, a small chain called Taco Mesa/Taco Rosa.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: katkoupai

                                Taco Mesa is delicious. Their blackened chicken burrito is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten.

                                Fish Taco's at Rubio's are pretty good. Chicken soft tacos at Del Taco are good for a quick fix.

                                1. re: jrossettie

                                  I love Taco Mesa, and I wish they'd branch out to Los Angeles. The only time I go now is when visiting friends in Costa Mesa. I'm glad you like it too. :)

                              2. We're pretty lacking in Mexican chains aside from Taco Bell in the NY metro area, but I like Desert Moon Cafe. Their guacamole actually has an avocado taste to it, and they cook things fresh to order.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: shellyesq

                                  'Never been there,but I'm with you on the Guac, the less stuff put in this wonderful food the better,little lemon juice,fresh garlic,finely minced onion,and ripe avocados , try it with bacon,and fresh salsa on a cheeseburger......otherworldly...

                                  1. re: shellyesq

                                    Well, we do have plenty of Chipotles and Qdobas in the city itself, I'm not sure about the metro area. There's one Baja Fresh, in Midtown with another opening soon. Also, El Polo Loco has arrived in NJ and plans 15 locations there and on Long Island.

                                    1. re: mermer

                                      anything on the east coast, please.....

                                      1. re: winebarb

                                        There are no decent chain Mexis on the East Coast. The only ones widely available are Taco Bell and Chipotle. Stick with something local.

                                        1. re: winebarb

                                          It's not fast food,but you might try Don Pablo's the food is pretty good,not great but certainly better than taco bell http://www.donpablos.com/

                                          1. re: jword2001

                                            The Don Pablo's here in MSP is completely devoid of any flavor whatsoever. Chevy's is actually slightly better. In fact, almost anyplace is better.

                                            1. re: jword2001

                                              IMHO, the best things at Don Pablo's are the Swirl - a mix of frozen margarita and frozen sangria - and the queso. The chicken flautas as OK.

                                            2. re: winebarb

                                              Chevy's is on the east coast (they at least have them in PA/NJ/NY), but it's a sit-down joint, not fast food.

                                              For "realistic" Mexican fast food, of the ones I've been to I'm probably partial to Baja Fresh.

                                              But I keep returning to Taco Bell every few months. There's just something about it....so disgusting it's good, I guess.

                                                1. re: jzerocsk

                                                  LOL, I do the same with Taco Bell. Though I have found that their chicken stuff isn't _that_ bad. I'm not voting them as best chain here, but I do like the chicken soft tacos and burritos.

                                                2. re: winebarb

                                                  I've eaten at Baja Fresh in NJ, Alexandria, Maryland and Pittsburgh... where out east are you? They're not bad - the salsas are not all that dissimilar from some of the late night hole-in-the-wall taquerias in Mexico City. There are also Qdobas in Pgh.

                                                  Chipotle is decidedly not Mexican... not sure what it is exactly.

                                                  1. re: Panini Guy

                                                    Chipotle is, I think, basically a somewhat Mexican inspired wrap place. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm not a fan, but I can see why some are.

                                                    1. re: ccbweb

                                                      Actually... they are a Mission Style Burrito clone... And any place that uses a fresh-o-matic is Anti Mexican to me...


                                              1. Where I live we are pretty much limited to Taco Hell (not if you gave me a million $$$ to eat there) and Chipotle which is not awful for fast mexican.

                                                1. I really like Tijuana Flats. It's a southern chain. They use all fresh ingredients

                                                  1. I've only eaten at Taco Bell and Baja Fresh (we're limited here on the east coast) and I definitely prefer Baja Fresh, hands down. The food is so much better, not to mention I can't bear the thought of eating at Taco Bell anymore since the outbreak that killed someone in my area.

                                                    1. El Pollo Loco. No question about it.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: ricepad


                                                        I guess La Parilla Suiza can't be called fast food....but it is up there in terms of Mexican chains in the US.

                                                        LPS website:


                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                          You know, I would agree with you, especially since I grew up not too far from the original (I still remember the lines!) but they have really let things slide lately... Their chicken is almost always overdone and dry and I coaxed my SO to try his first BRC a few weeks ago and the experience was horribly distressing... how could they mess with the BRC!!!!


                                                          1. re: Dommy

                                                            I am too lazy to re-read through the entire thread again, so sorry if this is clarified earlier, but I can't figure out what BRC is....maybe it is obvious and I am just a bit jet lagged today. That said, since I agreed with ricepad that El Pollo Loco is the best, and the thread got resurrected, I have to also agree with Dommy that my last few visits there (at various west LA locations) have been very disappointing, with overdone chicken. Yes, at least in LA they have gone downhill.

                                                            Sorry to disappoint El Nopal, but the shredded beef tacos at Del Taco are my new favorite from a fast food chain....(and then there are the tacos at Jack in the Box, but I guess those don't even qualify as Mexican food.. :-))

                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                              JITB tacos are OK, but I'd rather have Taco Bell. I think nostalgia plays a big part in that one though.

                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                I take it back about the shredded beef at Del Taco: I was driving through Modesto yesterday, in a BIG hurry and a bad mood thanks to bad traffic and a bit of jet lag...until I saw the Del Taco right next to what must be the cheapest gas in Modesto! Pulled off, pulled into the drive through, and was told that Del Taco no longer offers shredded beef: chicken or 'steak' only!!! What????? Since when (I am pretty sure it has only been a month or two since my last shredded beef taco in LA: Yes, I was developing an embarrasing addiction to the things)

                                                                Anyway, the server claims it is all Del Tacos, though I intend to write the company to ask. Since I felt stuck, I just ordered a steak taco and a diet coke. The 'steak' was rubbery and fairly flavorless. The tortilla (corn, thick and soft) was also rubbery, though at least it tasted like a tortilla. The chopped cilantro was good, however, so I give them points for that. Guess I will have to get over the shredded beef addiction, however....

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  An RBC is a Rice Bean and Cheese which was once a staple of Dommy's Diet. the one I had was seriously lacking though and falling apart.

                                                            2. #1) Poquito Mas: freshly made tortillas (I used to love Baja Fresh, but Poquito Mas beats them by a landslide)
                                                              #2) Baja Fresh: I still love them, but not as much as Poquito Mas

                                                              1. We really enjoy Taco Cabana.
                                                                Once or twice a month, we'll have date night, head out to TCab, and grab a mixed fajita platter to go for eight bucks and change. Mr. B and I head home, make up some margaritas and have a feast. With the beans and rice, it's more than enough food for the both of us, with left overs. We really like the hand-formed tortillas as well.
                                                                It's the best 8 bucks we spend!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: QueenB

                                                                  I agree on the tortillas,taco cabana makes their own(or did 31/2 years ago last time i was in the one in amarillo) and they are great,if you want a real treat go for breakfast,and order a burrito, with egg,cheese,chorrizo,bacon,and potato, then get plenty of their roasted tomato salsa...mmmmmm, it's big,it's warm,and for me it's as good as morning food gets outside of where i grew up.

                                                                2. I like Taco del Mar. It's similar to Chipotle in that you work your way down a line and watch them assemble your burrito. I especially like the shrimp burritos, which they pack full of little golden fried shrimps.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ajs228

                                                                    that sounds tasty....where are their stores?

                                                                    1. re: jword2001

                                                                      The ones I hit are in Phoenix, but their website says they're nationwide.

                                                                    2. re: ajs228

                                                                      I used to really enjoy Taco Del Mar (back when they were still a relatively small regional chain in the Pacific Northwest, which wasn't really all that long ago) but they seem to have gone downhill as they spread out across the country. When Qdoba and Baja Fresh moved into this area (Chipotle showed up a couple of years later) they really managed to make TDM's stuff look mediocre in comparison.

                                                                    3. Another really good fast mex place,if you travel to south Tx is Taco palenque http://www.tacopalenque.com/ their food is pretty close to true mexican food,and is really good,there is another chain down in that area but its' name escapes me.

                                                                      1. This is also very good fast mex if you are near one http://www.tacotote.com/

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: jword2001

                                                                          Oh, El Taco Tote is good! Too bad the one in Houston only stayed open for a brief while. The location was dismal, but the food was good.

                                                                        2. I would say that Baja Fresh is my favorite. Rubios, Chipolte, La Salsa and Sharky's are all pretty good too. I tried Poquito Mas once and thought it was good, but their nearby location is not in an area I frequent.

                                                                          1. I prefer local tacqerias when I want some mexican food, but sometimes fast food is a required to fit into a bust schedule

                                                                            I like Baja Fresh, decent food

                                                                            I can tolerate Taco Bell, cheap, and open late.

                                                                            I hate Chipotle, just terrible food, and not very cheap for what you get. I went once, and will ncer go back.

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: swsidejim

                                                                              I agree about local taquerias, but having lived in many places, it seems that the further east one goes, the less likely one is to have a local taqueria about. I basically agree with your take on the various chains you mentioned, though. I've got a serious taco bell craving working having read this thread in the last few days.

                                                                              1. re: swsidejim

                                                                                I finally tried a Chipotle and I agree, not really worthwhile if there are alternatives. Steam table meat, salsas are blah, most of all they don't have a self serve salsa bar, and where are the chopped onions, cilantro, and jalapenos?. Not on a par with La Salsa or Baja Fresh.

                                                                                1. I love Baja Fresh and Taco Bell but they are two completely different experiences. Baja Fresh is amazing. The black bean and cheese burrito could end wars people. And the fresh grilled chicken and steak... heavenly.

                                                                                  Taco Bell, well that's the place you go when you are starving and want to grub. Combination burrito with sour cream and nacho cheese... a gloppy mess of heaven in a tortilla. Sorry hounders but you know it's true! And I'm still depressed about the lack of chili cheese burritos in so cal.


                                                                                  1. I'm with the OP on Taco Bueno! The ground beef tacos have actual distinguishable pieces of ground beef in them--not that bright orange "meat goo" that Taco Bell uses. And yes--the salsa is great! The one thing there that I'm not 100% in love with is their guac. I guess it can't be perfect

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: smarsh

                                                                                      I'm with ya, Guac should be very simple Avocado,little garlic,lime juise,and onion...that's it!, We used to have a small Mex chain in N.M. called Taco Box, that was even better....sadly it went outta biz., cant wait to get to Tx,and get a B.O.B.,and some Tacos....

                                                                                    2. A chain right?
                                                                                      Rubio's hands down. Cheap, and fresh.

                                                                                      1. I finally tried Wahoo's today. I tried the shrimp nachos. I'm sitting here eating it right now, thinking "I wish I went to Baja Fresh." When the guy nuked my nachos, I knew I'd be disappointed. The nachos are black beans, chips, cheese and shrimp, with sour cream and guac (that doesn't look fresh) on the side. Where the salsa went, I don't know. I did not notice a salsa bar. Maybe I should've asked for some salsa. I was told it came with it. Baja Fresh puts the pico de gallo on top for you. Ah well, lesson learned.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                          Ha ha! I can't tell you how many times we've thought, "Why didn't we just go to Baja Fresh." Especially disappointing when you're in an unfamiliar place and you don't see Baja Fresh until AFTER you've spent too much on something mediocre.

                                                                                          1. re: mlgb

                                                                                            I agree. I still ate the Wahoo's nachos though. The leftovers tasted pretty good (I dumbed the guac and added my own salsa). :-)

                                                                                        2. King Taco (southern Calif). Now there's the final hands down.

                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: slacker

                                                                                            Good point. How come I didn't think of this as a chain? You are right.

                                                                                            1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                              No one thinks of them as a chain because they are almost as good as an independent taqueria... with that said there are some micro chains (less than 20 or so eateries) in Mexican L.A. (predominantley Mexican neighborhoods in L.A. expand way beyond East L.A these days).... that are much better than King Taco... El Atacor, Carnitas Michoacan, La Playita for example.

                                                                                            2. re: slacker

                                                                                              AMEN!! Love those sopes! :)


                                                                                              1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                Yes! They have the best best sopes!

                                                                                            3. I didn't like Mexican food really until I tried Baja Fresh...you get a healthy kick of the stuff. My favorite item is the Chicken Salad--hold the cheese and tortilla chips and sub that with the fajita veggies and avocado. Delicious!

                                                                                              1. Taco Cabana - especially their black bean taco on corn tortillas. I wish I could have one right now!

                                                                                                I do like Taco Bell, but I don't really think of it as Mexican food... but it is the closest I've gotten to Mexican food since moving to Germany.

                                                                                                Oh, and someone once told me that Chipotle is owned by McD's... don't know if it is true or not. I've never tried the place; I'd heard a bad review from a friend, and why chance it when there is a Taco Cabana on nearly every corner?!

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Foodie in Friedberg

                                                                                                  Here's an interesting article on Chipotle from QSR magazine. McD's invested in Chipotle but I'm not sure of the status of their current relationship, I thought I read that they split recently.


                                                                                                  1. re: mlgb

                                                                                                    That's an article from 2003, i believe. McDonalds completely divested ownership in Chipotle at the end of 2006 and the two have no further relationship or connection, according to the Chipotle article on wikipedia (not the arbiter of truth, but about the level of research this question requires :) ).

                                                                                                2. great place i went to when visiting a friend @ maryland u. cant remember the name exactly but think it was called california burrito and it is a chain around the mid-atlantic...greatest aspect was the 30 or so bottles of sauces you could choose off their wall. Best sauce I tried was JT Pappys which ive only seen in NOLA since but it was amazing

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: chimp

                                                                                                    You're thinking of California Tortilla. Yep, they're pretty good, more tex-mex than true mexican, but how many chains are really 'authentic'? And double-yes on the Pappy's alligator sauces! Love the Hickory flavor. You can mail order it if you're having serious cravings...


                                                                                                    Not a favorite, but reliable: Moe's Southwest Grill. Same model as Chipotle's (Subway-style). I appreciate the fact that they have marinated tofu as a protein option.

                                                                                                    1. re: spyturtle008

                                                                                                      I agree that Moe's is reliable, but in this case it is not a good thing. IMHO, the food is reliably bland and overpirced. Not much selection, either.

                                                                                                      1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                        I agree. I stopped eating there about a year and a half ago. Our local chain was always a mess, and I was never a big fan of their food. When a big sign was added to the soda station saying they could no longer give cups for water because their customers were too dishonest and would 'steal' soda, I gave up completely.

                                                                                                  2. Nationally?

                                                                                                    I like both Chipotle and Baja Fresh but with the edge deffinitely being given to Baja Fresh.

                                                                                                    But I live in San Francisco, which means I get to vote for Taqueria Cancun and Papalote

                                                                                                    Oooooo... MAUI TACOS!!!! How could I have forgotten?! The best one is in Napili Village but they had one in the Continental international wing the last time I was in JFK or Newark. One or the other.

                                                                                                    1. Someone has to say it..... I feel sad for those who Baja Fresh, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Qdoba and other similar chains, represent decent Mexican. Hold tight... some day soon the better stuff will find a way to your neighborhood.

                                                                                                      In no particular order, decent food can be had at:

                                                                                                      El Pollo Loco
                                                                                                      El Gallo Giro
                                                                                                      King Taco
                                                                                                      El Atacor
                                                                                                      Carnitas Michoacan

                                                                                                      32 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                        Yes, El Gallo Giro. Good addition. I like most of the places you mention here to some extent, although my top picks would be Baja Fresh, King Taco and El Gallo Giro.

                                                                                                        I like El Pollo Loco for the drive-thru option.

                                                                                                        I have never tried El Atacor or La Playita, but those sound good too.

                                                                                                        1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                          El Atacor is usually found in the Whittier, Paramount, Long Beach areas.... so Southeastish L.A.

                                                                                                          La Playita is the shack offshot from the 7 Mares seafood restaurants... so very good fish tacos (if a bit heavy on the batter).

                                                                                                          Of course the best Mexican chains if you expand beyond the U.S are all from Mexico.... Sanborns, Tortas Mexico, Pozolcalli etc., which begs the question of why Mexican franchises don't come across the border?

                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                            In San Antonio we have El Taco Tote and Dona Tota's Gorditas,both of which are mexican fast food chains straight from Mexico.There was another one over in the foodcourt at North Star mall,but it's gone now and i can't even remember the name.Saw an ad for a Pollo Carmargo? on tv.Just know it was Pollo something or other which might be from Mexico but not sure.

                                                                                                            1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                                              Is el Taco Tote any good? Their website in English is a little.... say hokie. http://www.tacotote.com/

                                                                                                              Dona Tota's looks fantastic... I don't think I've ever eaten at one in Mexico.... is this as good as it looks.


                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                My brother was introduced to El Taco Tote by his friend who moved to Texas from Mexico city; his family loves the place.

                                                                                                            2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                              Jorge Campo's SporTortas also recently hit the U.S. Although I am still reeling over tackling the Sumo...


                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                We did get Pollo Campero, in terms of south of the border coming over the border.

                                                                                                                1. re: slacker

                                                                                                                  Technically though, they aren't Mexican...


                                                                                                                  1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                    Yeah, that's why I put in the caveat that they are "south of the border." :)

                                                                                                            3. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                              Don't feel sorry. I have access to Rubios (which I don't even like) and most of the others. The appeal of Baja Fresh is that you can find it in faceless suburbs and know you'll get something freshly cooked instead of some ground up gristly chicken thigh and a squirt of red sauce.

                                                                                                              Not to mention self serve salsa and I do like that roasted tomato one.

                                                                                                                1. re: Dommy

                                                                                                                  Like the food at Gallo Giro but the music is TOO LOUD. And the ordering system is crazed.

                                                                                                                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                  Baja Fresh is decent, food is fresh and salsas are OK for fast food. Wahoo's is simply awful though, quite possibly the blandest tasting chain mentioned so far. King Taco can be inconsistent, i.e., mediocre carne asada and burritos, but sopes and al pastor can be good depending on location.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                    Try the Tortilla Soup & Shrimp Taco at Wahoos... .then let me know what you think.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                      I tried the shrimp nachos (not tacos) at Wahoo's recently. I was disappointed.

                                                                                                                      I recently tried Senor Fish. That's where I'll go for shrimp tacos for the time being. The breaded shrimp and the grilled shrimp were both good, and they have a good salsa bar.

                                                                                                                      1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                        If Wahoo's had salsa or beans with any flavor to help out I might, but they don't. Everything there tastes watery.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                          The beans at Wahoo's tasted canned. I think they nuked my nachos. Not only that, but they forgot to give me salsa. I love salsa, so I was bummed.

                                                                                                                          If I lived in a place that had no Mexican food, then I would be happy to have Wahoo's there. Being in the greater LA area, there are other places that I would go to first.

                                                                                                                          Right now, my fav place is a spot called Rosarito #2 in Pasadena. This might count as a chain, since there are two of them in the area. They serve a lot of food, with a lot of flavor, for a low price (about $6.50 for a meal with a drink, plus fresh chips and a great salsa bar) :)


                                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                            Hi, Eat Nopal,

                                                                                                                            Yes, nachos. That's the only thing that I've ever tried at Wahoo's. I've only been there once. There was another thread about nachos on Chowhound that made me crave nachos. I will attach the link here. Sorry if there was confusion related to what I posted.


                                                                                                                            1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                              Try the tortilla soup.... made from scratch with fresh vegetables & chicken. Remember Wahoos does most of their cooking on site from scratch so there are variations. I've only eaten at the one in Irvine... they had a seperate salsa made for the employees that I always asked for.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                      Carnitas Michoacan used to be so much better! Although their sauce is still amazingly good! Now, El Ataore, is that the place with the super burrito, big enough to feed 3 hungry people? for what i believe less than $5, too! Overall I still love the sopes at King Taco, just went to the 24hr one this weekend in ELA, surprised that at 4am, there was still a room full of people and a super long line.

                                                                                                                      1. re: vibrant

                                                                                                                        I don't know if all King Tacos have them.... but the perfectly spiced rotisserie chicken at the one in Lincoln Heights (Broadway & Griffin) was a stand out.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                        EatNopal, what do you think of Rubio's tortillas? After eating quite a few freshly made ones around L.A. not to mention store bought, Rubio's taste a bit strange.
                                                                                                                        I'll definitely second EPL for their roast chicken. However, they should hire you as a consultant to improve their ghastly side dish selection.

                                                                                                                        1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                          They are terrible.... its the missing link that would make their fish tacos elite. I don't think they taste bad... they have a very earthy corn flavor... but they are always hard & get cold very quickly.

                                                                                                                          EPL.... I kind of like their side dishes.... the beans & salad that is. The beans I sprinkly with a bit of cilantro & have it with bites of raw serranos. The salad... I pour tons of their house salsa all over it. Another thing I get is their decent Tortilla Soup & an extra container of steamed vegetables which I add to the soup. The problem there is that the corn tortillas suck as well.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                            El Pollo Loco has been pointless ever since they expanded beyond their original Alvarado and Beverly Bl locations. Dry chicken, flavorless beans, institutional rice and tortillas, and some of the worst watery salsa I have ever encountered at their often poorly maintained salsa bars.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                              Actually there is ALOT of variability among store locations... depending on the whims of the employees and the franchise's ability to control them. For example, the location in Lincoln Heights on Broadway (near the 5) has very good chicken & salsa... but the location near the 2 & San Fernando Road is terrible etc.,

                                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                I have noticed a lot of variability at El Pollo Loco too, i.e., poor to inedible. We have been going since their original locations opened in the early 80s, and the drop in quality over the years has been exponential and directly correlated with expansion.

                                                                                                                                For that style of Mexican chicken, I prefer Juan Pollo. Even a Costco bird with your own beans, tortillas, and salsa is better than EPL.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                                  I will concede that quality of execution (not necessarily ingredients) has dropped after the they sold the franchise to one of the mega chain companies.

                                                                                                                                  However... its your loss... I've had birds at EPL over the last 5 years that rank among the very best I've consumed in that time frame... and yes that includes roast chickens at some highly touted, high price tag restaurants.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                                    JUAN POLLO ROCKS! Probably the best chicken I have eaten... EVER! So juicy and scrumptious. Love that rice too...

                                                                                                                                2. re: Ernie

                                                                                                                                  I only go to EPL during the summer when they have whatever variation of chile/tequila/orange/lime chicken for a "limited time only". It's always so much better than their regular stuff!

                                                                                                                                3. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                  EN, my taste bud calibration is confirmed! Unlike some commenters, I prefer whole pinto beans simply (but not over) cooked and spiced; add your own condiments to taste.
                                                                                                                                  IMO their terribly executed sides like the watery macaroni salad influence our children's tastes for the worse.
                                                                                                                                  I'm usually disappointed in their salsa bar but the avocado salsa isn't too bad.

                                                                                                                            2. Maui Tacos!!!! ummmm


                                                                                                                              When we are in Hawaii, this is where we go all the time!!

                                                                                                                              I only wish they had these chains in NJ. (There is one, in Newark airport, but i can't get to it unless I am flying Continental)

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                I KNEW it was in Newark, not JFK. And it isn't as good as the ones in Hawaii, but still excellent. I love their pineapple-chipotle hot sauce

                                                                                                                                1. re: whiner

                                                                                                                                  I think I could make a meal itself out of the whole "salsa bar".....ha ha

                                                                                                                              2. We really enjoy our Taco Bueno!!! Very tasty food and lots of it. Haven't had their breakfast yet.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Conanoe

                                                                                                                                  TB does b'frast now?, i havnt been in one in years(it's my fav though) ,and they didnt have it last time i was there.

                                                                                                                                2. Has anyone tried Salsarita's??

                                                                                                                                  One opened by me in Old Bridge, NJ.


                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                    Went to one in Baltimore when it first opened. Dont remember it too much but wasnt impressed enough to try again. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                      Went to the OB location and the overall experience was awesome. #1 so far in the East Coast. At least for now.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                        Salsarita's, to me, is probably the worst of the Qdoba/Chipotle/Moe's genre. No matter what I get there, it ALWAYS TASTES THE SAME, and that taste isn't a particularly good one. Their chips are also way too salty.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                          Yes...once...but never again. We found it to be very ordinary, bland, and overpriced. Everything was dished out of a steam table type line...just like Taco Bell. The selection wasn't great, either. No compelling reason to return.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Angelina

                                                                                                                                            We tried this in Mooresville, NC, yesterday. It was awful. My husband picked the ground beef burrito and he was able to literally pour the grease out of it. It was the same "meat goo" described upthread. My son and I shared some "grilled" chicken nachos. The last time that chicken saw a "grill" was in a factory. The sour cream was the consistency of a sauce, the pico de gallo (my son's choice) if ever fresh, was certainly a day past the corporate specs for discard. Canned black olives. The cheese sauce was clearly canned. (My son did say he liked it.) The full name of the place was "Salsarita's Fresh Cantina" which is horrid, because the only thing that was fresh was the $4.50 Modelo. Never again! Not only was the food bad, but the damn credit card machine had a tip line on it. The counter service was terrible - the kid kept "whatting" me as a result of his attention drifting off just before I spoke *every*single*time*. And you carry your own food to the table and bus your table - exactly why should I tip this buffoon?

                                                                                                                                            1. Freebirds
                                                                                                                                              Taco Beuno

                                                                                                                                              I consider any restaurant ending in -ertos or in a bright yellow building with the same menu as all the others to be a chain on account of the fact that I believe they're all run by some Mexican mafia. A, wonderful, wonderful, Mexican mafia.

                                                                                                                                              If only I could get Lasagna and a cannoli for 3.50...

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                                                                                                                                I love the -ertos!!! That Mafia chain can make some Mexican fast food. I am especially fond of their chicken tacos an refried beans. Their breakfast burrito with ham isn't bad either. Personal favorite is Alberto's: http://albertosmexicanfoods.com/.

                                                                                                                                                But my all time favorite is Taco Bueno. Beef and Potato burrito and a Muchaco, please! If only they would come to LA. . . wait . . . no, the local burrito snobs would run them off for their inauthenticity. I just need to go home more often.

                                                                                                                                                The next post mentions Taco Johns. I have a love/hate thing with Taco John. When I lived in a town where Taco John was literally the only "Mexican" food in town, I hated it. In the years since I left that area to live in a place with abundant amazing authentic Mexican food, I have learned to appreciate what I had with Taco John. Was it great Mexican food? Not at all But they make a few pretty good "gringo-ized" "Mexican" items that are pretty tasty. I could really go for a taco bravo, a taco burger and some ole's about now. And they had the good ice -- you know, the little ice pellets that are great for crunching on when you finish your drink. You can't hate a place with the good ice.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: kindofabigdeal

                                                                                                                                                  ever try Tin Star? It's kinda nice that they cook the tortillas to order, even if the dough is from China or wherever.

                                                                                                                                                2. I pity anyone whose only access to Mexican style food is Taco John. Just the mention makes me queasy and makes Taco Hell look OK.
                                                                                                                                                  Of course, you could live in Oz where tortillas and Mexican chile varieties are virtually non-existent.

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                                    What? Are you kidding me!? Taco John's is far superior to Taco Bell. The nasty crap they call taco meat at Taco Bell has got to be half filler. I could really go for some potato oles with cheese and some hard shells for Taco Tuesday!

                                                                                                                                                    How I miss the upper plains. The only drive thru Mexican joint I've found in KC so far is Taco Hell. Anyone know of anything else?

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pollymerase

                                                                                                                                                      KC also has Taco Bueno, Pancho's and In-a-Tub, with drive thrus.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kctraci

                                                                                                                                                        oh my gosh...in a tub...taco crack.

                                                                                                                                                        i grew up on these grease pockets, otherwise now as a rational adult i think i would of hated them. but these are the most amazing little tacos on planet earth. not the least bit "real" or "authentic" but they really are addictive and incredibly bad for you.

                                                                                                                                                        i havent eaten them since i was 16. (im only 22). but maybe i've elevated them a little too much in my mind. i need to try them again just to be sure.

                                                                                                                                                  2. Jose Tejas.. I believe its a chain.

                                                                                                                                                    1. Around here, there are places that are so much better than the chains for most items (I particularly like Torero's, they have a chicken enchilada that is easily among my top 5 favorite meals) but as far as chain Mexican places go around here, there just aren't a whole lot of options to be found. Of the ones that are here, I like Qdoba every once in a while (in particular, I like their queso, and the chicken mole burrito is pretty good as well) and Baja Fresh is decent, if a bit expensive (my usual order is a bean and cheese burrito enchilado style, sometimes with chicken added, sometimes without.) Taco Del Mar and Chipotle are around here too, but I'm not a big fan of either (as mentioned above, TDM has suffered in quality from their expansion across the country, and Chipotle's stuff seems to drown out the flavors with too much heat.) I can't say you won't ever find me at a Taco Bell though...

                                                                                                                                                      1. SALSARITAS wins in the east coast for us(friends & family). We have tried Chipotle in New York city, Washington and it lacks freshness and it has that corporate taste in every way. Own by McDonalds so no real effort to make great food or service.
                                                                                                                                                        Qdoba is lacking flavor. I guess if you are in a rush and want some mexican food maybe. Don Pablo's is a joke. DP tried to make it good but died in the effort, tacky, salsa is one of the worst Ive tried. Moe's is good but the annoying WELCOME TO MOES and the confusing menu make it unpleasant. Moe's sauces are one of the best in most aspects (freshness, consistency, flavor, hotness(could use a little more habanero). Moes charges extra cash for guacamole which brings rating down. Panchero's is an attempt but failed. food average. sauces are very poor. design overall we found tasteless. But they have one of the best purple chips we tried. BAJA FRESH. we were waiting for a unanimus decision and we got it: NO WHAT WE EXPECTED! after reading post and comments and reviews we thought BAJA FRESH was it. Not on the east coast, maybe in SF or LA but on this side of the country the flavor is just not there. JOSE TEJAS is one of our favorites. Maybe because when the check comes we are already buzzed and the review is always good. Variety and freshness are good. not so hot sauces. TACO BELL: well not fresh at all. Is just not there to compete. El Porton in Duluth, GA was runner up. Great food, value, flavor, music. SALSARITAS wins. Very Fresh, nice design of restaurants. No charge for guacamole. Taco Rita line of to go tacos are great. Offers pizza too. Great salads. Nice music played. Tasty sauces. Nice atmosphere. We have gone 11 times and yesterday we all agreed on Salsaritas.
                                                                                                                                                        We will be traveling west next summer and hope to try some of the west coast restaurants.
                                                                                                                                                        Mexican food is Great. But mexican food eaters are GuacaGreat! Cheers! Keep habaneros growing.


                                                                                                                                                        1. QDOBA! By far!

                                                                                                                                                          I just love their salsa verde and crispy chicken tacos. I could eat them every day (sort of...)

                                                                                                                                                          1. I'll nominate two from the Southwest:
                                                                                                                                                            Roberto's (San Diego, Las Vegas and a few locations in Florida) - no web site (the Northern San Diego County small chain you can find on Google is related by family, but is not the same as the larger, cheaper, mostly 24-hr chain) - but here's a sample menu from one in Vegas:


                                                                                                                                                            Filiberto's (Arizona and California
                                                                                                                                                            ...which now has carne asada fries (diced carne asada, guac, sour cream and cheese over fries).

                                                                                                                                                            My preference is Roberto's: lots of late night studying fueled by chorizo and egg burritos, carne asada and guac burritos and the classic three rolled tacos with guac and sprinkled cotija cheese. Mmmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                            1. the best place is filibertos it is just in az and ca

                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jaypizzle17

                                                                                                                                                                Ah, Filiberto's... that styrofoam container, filled with pounds of goodness, could feed me for days! Well maybe 2 days!

                                                                                                                                                              2. Man...I feel ripped off hearing all these raves about Baja Fresh! The location here went under pretty quickly because it was just plain gross. Obviously a bad franchisee.

                                                                                                                                                                That being said, we don't have the majority of these chains that have been mentioned on this board in Raleigh. We have the "usual suspects" - Taco Hell, Qdoba, Chipotle, Moe's, Salsarita's - but by far the best Mex food around here is at independent restos and taquerias, not to mention from a few taco trucks. Maybe Mexican just isn't a cuisine that lends itself to major nationwide chain success, although I can't think why that would be the case.

                                                                                                                                                                1. No mention of Del Taco's Taco Tuesday? 3 for 99 has to be one of the best deals out there. I usually pick up 15 and same a few for the next morning (cold, soggy tacos - mmmmmm).

                                                                                                                                                                  But normally, I prefer Baja Fresh among the larger chains. The food, well, just tastes better. It doesn't taste as old. Overall, California Tortilla is probably the tastiest (and may just be the furthest from authentic).

                                                                                                                                                                  1. baja bistro in VA and MD have fresh food concept also and the food is great

                                                                                                                                                                    1. How I envy all of you. Even chain Mexican would be welcome here in the wastelands called Florida, where the closest we get is Taco Bell.

                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: aynrandgirl

                                                                                                                                                                        Where are you in FL? Tampa Bay and Volusia County - the two areas I am familar with - are becoming overwhelmed with Chipotle, Moe's, Qdoba and Pancheros. In Tampa especially, you can't seem to go more than five miles without hitting all of these.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                                                                                                                          I prefer the West Coast and Texas chains, like Del Taco and Taco Cabana, or just about any LA or SF taco truck, to the aforementioned chains.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. Rubio's by a landslide for me. Though, I too, crave Potato Ole's from Taco Johns (tater tots with spicy seasoning salt on them:) The pork at Salsarita's is good. I despise Qdoba and Moe's, especially the way Moe's quesadilla item names sound slightly perverted. (Like I want to say naughty things to a teenager.)

                                                                                                                                                                        1. I am partial to Baja Fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                          edit: But for the same priice I can get a pretty good Mexican lunch around here. From a fairly authentic place, or goto Portugese BBQ.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. I like El Canelo in Pennsylvania.

                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chowchomper

                                                                                                                                                                              Not much love Sharkys? I like them because they have a lot of fish options but I can also end up at Baja or Rubios depending on the mood. I do like the whole baja-style genre much better than the sit down places like El Torrito.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. Pound for pound the non chain mexican fast food usually reigns supreme, usually cheaper, and just better. Look for work trucks parked outside thats a good sign. Here in Las Vegas, the Takearia on ann and tenaya is one of my favorites you can still get a burrito and a coke for $5.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. I can't believe nobody has said Jimboy's Tacos yet! They are a smaller chain in the Sacramento area. When I was in Sac on business I was introduced to these little grease-bombs by a local. I remember them very fondly.

                                                                                                                                                                                BTW- stay away from the ones in Reno.

                                                                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: nimeye

                                                                                                                                                                                  Jimboy's makes some tasty taco-like food items, but it's a far cry from Mexican. Not even Jimboy is Mexican!

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                    Most so-called Mexican chains are a far cry from Mexican, not just Jimboy's.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: nimeye

                                                                                                                                                                                      In all fairness we've exported Pizza Hut, McDonald's, Outback and others to Mexico so they have just as skewed a perspective as we do.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: ferret

                                                                                                                                                                                        Agreed... Haute Americaine restaurants keep failing in Mexico... even when literally thousands of high end foreign restaurants have succeeded in Mexico City.... including Austrian, Swiss, Polish, Japanese & Chinese... but American cuisine is very pidgeonholed in Mexico for similar reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. Wow, there's a lotta love for Mexican!

                                                                                                                                                                                  Taco Bell's sloppy prep and tiny portions rules it out. Their nuclear waste grade grease oozing out of their tacos was always a fun sight though.

                                                                                                                                                                                  El Pollo Loco's offerings are very calorie heavy (you get a workout carrying a burrito back to your car), but strangely not very filling. This is because their food is so lacking in flavor, you feel like eating double what you normally eat. Everything is just bland. Also, sanitation is subpar. When I went, the salsa bar was a mess. Most of the salsas were near empty, and there was salsa and half filled cups strewn all over the bar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  This leaves Baja Fresh. The first time I tried some of their food back in the day, I was pleasantly surprised. It actually tasted good! Enormous portions and the salsa bar is kept relatively clean and well stocked.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Chipotle is a strong runner up. Their portions aren't as big/ridiculous as Baja's, but the overall flavor is still there. Prices are at the high end for fast food, but it's several notches up the food chain from a mickey d's or taco bell, so one can't really complain.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Virtually all American chains serving Mexican food Suck big time.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Why? They refuse to offer SOME, repeat SOME menu items that approach the real thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Ground beef? Maybe if used in a real picadillo filling. But that would be too 'complicated'.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Cheese, sour cream and lettuce on everything, how totally gringo!
                                                                                                                                                                                    Tabasco sauce? Give me an efffing break.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The worst heresy BY FAR is Not serving fresh SOFT Corn tortillas. In SoCal you can't hardly walk 50 ft without bumping into a grocery store that has a tortilla machine; edible ones are trivial to source. I know that handmade is better but that's another board....

                                                                                                                                                                                    Chains that only serve these yellow cardboard shells or gummy flour tortillas in tacos or tostadas are LAZY LAZY LAZY.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The ONLY chain item I've found that is any good is the (roast) chicken 'al carbon' taco at El Pollo Loco. Two soft mini corn tortillas per taco. Use the new 'de arbol' salsa or supply your own. One dollar (!), on sale now for 69 cents. It is Very hard to find a decent chicken taco, even at non-chain Mex restaurants. If you must get a side order, choose the beans.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Big Thumbs Up, EPL!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I really have to take exception and draw a red line through ANY fast food Mex places. At least where I live (Virginia, Metro DC are), all of the really great Mex restaurants (and there are A LOT) are mostly family operations. Why even think about Taco Bell when within a few blocks there is bound to be an independent resto with knockout food.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nanette

                                                                                                                                                                                          You've Got to be kidding. I visited the El Segundo location and now believe that the owners learned about 'Mexican' food by browsing Taco Bell's web site :-(.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                                                                            There was a time when it was one of the few options in the northern reaches, however, any place that dresses up tater tots with "Mexican" seasoning this day in age, isn't really "the best". However, their white chicken chili and natural soft taco are alright and better than anything at Taco Bell.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: nanette

                                                                                                                                                                                            Their web site only shows flour tortillas and 'shells' as taco options, this is Not acceptable. http://www.tacotime.com/menu/tacotime... Yup, I think the 'tater tots' are the clincher. This must be what they serve in Hell's cafeteria.

                                                                                                                                                                                            If this is the 'best' Mex style food in the town you live(d) in, you have my deepest sympathy. If you can get real corn tortillas, 'home-made' should be an option :-).

                                                                                                                                                                                          3. I think King Taco chain (not Taco King) is the best for burritos, soft tacos, sopes, rice and beans. This is the most authentic Mexican food I have ever eaten in a fast food chain. They have many sites throughtout the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Valleys and it is surprising that no one else mentioned this great place. It is addictive, their food is very fresh and yummy!. Try it, you will like it!!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Fish tacos: Wahoos & Rubios.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Others: Baja Fresh, Chipotle, Pepe's & Molcasalsa (depending on location).

                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                                                                                                                Is "Molcasalsa" the same as the places that used to be ( and some still are) known as "Alberto's"?

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Ugh. Defiitely NOT Don Pablos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I had dinner at our local one last week. The cheese dips on the dip sampler we ordered were all congealed by the time they reached the table and the guac clearly out of a premade tub. My seafood "mixed grill" was one broiled shrimp skewer and a tiny, skinny piece of mahi mahi (seriously, the taste wasn't bad but the cut of fish was laughable.) My first drink was pretty ok (if loaded with ice and very little actual "drink"); the second had virtually no alcohol that I could taste--as if they figure you're too hammered after the first to notice?

                                                                                                                                                                                                I won't be rushing back any time soon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. If you live in Kansas OklahomalTexas or Arkansas try Taco Mayo. Delicous white corn shell tacos only 89 cents. Cant remember the name of their big beef burritio but it is also very good. Live less then a block from Tacosmell like cinnamon twists and most of their chicken dishes. The 99 cent nachos are GROSS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Someburro's, a chain in the Phoenix metropolitan area, is by far my favorite. I haven't found anything nearly as good in Southern CA, and that includes non-chains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Senor Baja dude. Won't be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. #1 Chipolte
                                                                                                                                                                                                          #2 Neato Burrito (The one in spokane – it’s not a chain but they are awesome and should franchise.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                          #3 Rubios
                                                                                                                                                                                                          #4 Qdoba
                                                                                                                                                                                                          #5 El Pollo Loco

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Can’t believe all the people that like Barfo Fresho, seriously people – come oooonnnnnn!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Have you never tried chipotle’s or rubios?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                                                                                                            With a lot of chains it comes down to the franchisee/staff and attention to detail. When I was on assignment in Alexandria we had both a Chipotle in Old Town and a Baja Fresh a short drive away. While Chipotle gave you the bigger bang for the buck (assuming you wanted a two fisted burrito), the BF store was way ahead on actual taste and you could actually finish what you ordered. Was sorry to see it go.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Never been to the others. Only Qdoba is nearby.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            As the question posed was somewhat argumentative, I'll qualify myself as someone who spent a year living and eating in MX and also pretty competent Mexican cook, according to my Mexican staff members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If we wish to get into a pissing match relying upon qualifications we can, it’s a logical fallacy called appeal to authority, but here it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              40 + years as a professional chef / restaurateur. 30 years in the Los Angeles area owning 5 restaurants, one of them a tex-mex style. Two different culinary tours of Mexico sampling all of the regions food, plus one – two week culinary school in Mexico focusing on authentic regional cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              But NONE of that really matters, it’s what YOU like and your own experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My experiences have been the exact opposite of yours; I have eaten at 8 different Baja Fresh (that I can remember) in 3 different states. All except one, piled on the cheap ingredients (rice/beans) giving huge, but tasteless portions of food. Chipotle does give big portions but they are known for that and their seasonings are balanced for the size they give. It seemed like BF was trying to compete on portion size because in all of those instances they had a competitor very close by. The other time the portion sizes were ridiculously small and yet still lacked in flavor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I also like Chipotles commitment to high quality ingredients plus the fact that all of the meat is naturally raised, free of antibiotics and hormones and humanely raised. Their overall philosophy of food is different from Baja Fresh and it shows in the quality of ingredient that they serve.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chipotles have always been cleaner inside, food has been consistent, while Baja Fresh is hit and miss on cleanliness and consistency is a word NOT known in the Baja Fresh dictionary. (It’s not just potion size that is inconsistent; it’s cooking of rice / meat / seasonings, etc)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I will agree that Baja Fresh tries to more authentic then chipotles, and I know people who snub their nose at it because of this, but if that is the “style” of food you are looking for then Rubio’s and El Pollo Loco beat Baja Fresh in taste and consistency. (Qdoba is more like Chipotle – so some people might not like it either due to their style)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I have known many people who have only eaten taco bell or del taco, then they try Baja Fresh and get addicted and think it’s great, next thing someone takes them to Rubio’s, Chipotle or El Pollo Loco and then they drop Baja Fresh. I have seen Baja Fresh do good business and then have El Pollo or Chipotle move in next to them and they drop drastically and finally go under. I have never seen it the other way round. You stated that you were sad to see Baja Fresh go in Alexandria – did they go out of business? Is Chipotle and Qdoba still there? Hmmmm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              We have had completely different experiences – mirror images in reality – your comment on franchisee and staff attention to detail is spot on - and it might be that Baja Fresh on the East Coast has it together while not so much on the west coast.


                                                                                                                                                                                                              PS If it makes you feel any better Baja Fresh is winning by a large majority on this board, I don’t understand it – but then again there was a line at a Taco Bell yesterday – Don’t understand that either.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                RC - Glad we got the CVs out of the way ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I gave my particulars only because of the "seriously people" in the last post with the implication that all responders in favor of BF have no taste. As you're a professional, trust me, I get where you're coming from. I live that every day, except in coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I only mentioned the Alexandria locations of each as that's the sum of my experience. The lone BF in Pgh (where I live now) closed before I ever got there. There are a couple of Chipotles and 3 or 4 Qdobas here (no Rubios or EPL). Never been to any of them - primarily because as an indie foodservice owner I want to support little guys (and most all "authentic" Mex has flopped in Pgh in favor of dumbed down Mex, until we got "http://yoritasouthside.com/").

                                                                                                                                                                                                                FWIW, the Chipotle I mentioned is in a prime location in Old Town. The BF was at a new (and small) shopping center well outside the touristy district. Many of the BF customers were Latino - which prolly scared away potential customers while the Chipotle customers were Old Town businesspeople and hipsters. So that may also account for why one's still open and the other isn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll add that the Chipotle staff looked like depressed production line workers stationed against their will while the BJ folks were happy and animated. Couple other points: there were actually chunks of whole avocado in my BF guac while the Chipotle version was Jell-O pudding, and the salsas as BF were tastier and seemed fresher. Both are major points in my book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                So if we take both experiences into account, it would certainly seem as if there were major differences in how the operations are run in the stores I visited vs. the ones you did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                And as you were also in Mexico for a bit, you know they have Taco Bells there too. And they're crowded. So we can both keep scratching our heads.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: RetiredChef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh puhleez get over yourself, seriously..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But you are right it doesn't matter what you think, it matters what the customer thinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As I've mentioned elsewhere what I usually order at BF are the individual soft tacos, no beans no rice, just freshly cooked protein (as in grilled when I order it not hours before) and I like the do it yourself salsa bar since I am perfectly capable of seasoning my food to my own taste.. The two BFs closest to me are 99 percent reliable in terms of cleanliness and food quality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BTW not only have I tried Rubios (horrible) EPL (the chicken is good but the sides are pretty bad), Chipotle (I dont' like steam table food), we also have Pollo Campero (a better version of EPL with great beans), Gallo Giro (I think LA and OC only), Sharky's (talk about high pretensions and poor execution), too many greasy rubbery local taco stands, the disgusting Tito's Tacos (talk about head-scratching) as well as the mother-ship La Super-Rica.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I adore Taco Fresco, but I think they are a Chicago area only chain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tzurriz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Around here we have Taco Cabana naturally, and Taco Bell, no Baja Fresh,etc and the Del Taco that was at Rolling Oaks Mall on Nacogdoches Road and Loop 1604 is gone. Of course, San Antonio is the home of TexMex,and lots of mom and pop places to eat around here. We do have Rolando's Super Tacos which is also a San Antonio chain and only in San Antonio.They have these really big tacos,they might even have a website. Never tried them, but some of the guys at work have and they like them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                We have El Pollo Loco,but not on my side of town, and still want to try Dona Torta's Gorditas on San Pedro, which is a chain from Mexico.There is also Pollo Campero, which is fried chicken and the chain is from mexico or Honduras, at any rate south of the border.Don't know if they have any tacos but they do serve yucca fries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I make tacos at home sometimes, or I go to El Jalisco and get a plate of carne asada or whatever.It's not a chain, just a local place here in Schertz.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'll get breakfast tacos at Taco Caban or some times their fajita tacos once in awhile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  When it comes to burritos, I am a fan of Chipotle/Qdoba. But I recently came across this fairly new place called, Currito - Burrito without borders. Apart form the classic burrito, they have medditeranean burritos, bangkok style burritos, thai peanut style burritos and many more. They also have black bean hummus, mango salsa and a few other along with chips and salsa as a side. I guess they seem to have hit it off with their "Jimmy carter" smootie. I liked the place a lot, as they have many more option against the standard classic burrito. Anyone else been to Currito??

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: HollyDolly

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Welcome to Chowhound, Rags23!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    CH has a very wide member base and the Chains board doesn't have regional bounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Therefore, it would be helpful to know - what city and country are you finding Currito in?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DiveFan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        well i had it in cincinnati, OH. was just curious to know what exp other people have had at currito.