Chain restaurants are big business. U.S. sales alone for the industry leader, McDonald’s, exceeded $38 billion in 2018. Second-place Starbucks managed a mere $19.66 billion, just over half the McDonald’s number, but still not bad. The five top chains, in fact, all exceeded the $10 billion-dollar mark (the others were Subway, Taco Bell, and Chick-fil-A).
The trade publication Restaurant Business releases an annual ranking of the nation’s top 250 restaurant chains. The latest edition uses the most recent U.S. sales figures, from 2018, to rank the chains. (The number of units for each chain was computed at the same time, and may have changed since then.) Taco Bell, as noted, is in the top five, and there are four other Mexican-inspired chains in the top 100. 24/7 Tempo delved further into the list to come up with the top 15 Mexican chains in America (the farthest down came in at No. 167).
There’s no doubt that we love our Mexican food. The British-based market research and data analytics company YouGov determined recently that some 86% of Americans who had tried Mexican food liked it; the only cuisine scoring higher was Italian, at 88%. In addition, DoorDash, the nation’s number-one food delivery service, revealed recently that five of 2019’s 15 most popular food orders in America were Mexican in style.
Of course, the fare offered by Mexican chains, whether fast-food places or sit-down restaurants, is designed for a wide American audience, and rarely reflects the way people eat in Mexico. Chains don’t figure, for instance, in our list of the best Mexican restaurants in every state.
But the food these places offer can evoke the forms and flavors of the Mexican kitchen, and bring their spice and color to almost every corner of the country at a bargain price.