There are two types of people in this world – taco people and burrito people. Since you’re reading this, you know: burrito people are wrong. Few foods are as satisfyingly simple as a taco. With each bite into a flour or corn tortilla, a diner celebrates Mexican culture while indulging in one of the culinary world’s simplest pleasures.
While authentic street tacos are a thing of beauty, the dish’s simplicity allows fast-food restaurants to make delicious tacos that cater to those strapped for time or seeking convenience. The burst of flavor from a perfect bite of a taco transcends the four walls from where it came. In this article, we’ll dig deeper into your options for the best fast food tacos. Whether you’re a soft taco traditionalist or prefer the crunchy American take, you don’t have to wait until Tuesday to indulge in the best food on the planet.
Del Taco started as one humble Californian restaurant in the ’60s and has grown into a national chain thanks to its delicious tacos.
The flagship taco of the restaurant is known as the Del Taco. This item is a no-frills classic offered in crunchy and soft varieties, though I recommend their warm flour tortilla.
The taco’s seasoned beef comes loaded with the traditional pairings of shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, and diced tomatoes.
The simplicity of the taco highlights what works best in fast food. By eschewing marketing gimmicks, the seasoned beef and freshness of the veggies shine through each bite.
Check out other popular Del Taco menu items to order on your next visit.
Customization is the name of the game at Chipotle.
The chain ranks lower on my convenience scale because of its lack of a drive-thru, but its made-to-order tacos are worth an extra minute of your time.
Every taco comes with a choice of soft or hard shell tortilla and your choice of white or brown rice and black or pinto beans.
The real star here is the meat options. Choose between Pollo Asado, chicken, steak, barbacoa, carnitas, or the tofu-based sofritas.
Your mouth will practically be watering by the time you top off your taco with one of their four salsa options.
Customers will love the delicious tacos at Torchy’s while also feeling confident in the company’s commitment to ethically sourced ingredients and sustainability.
It’s no surprise that some of the best fast food tacos in the nation come from a chain that started in Austin, Texas.
The Lonestar State capital is internationally known for its Tex-Mex cuisine and tacos.
Expect to experience the wilder side of tacos at Torchy’s, with smoked brisket, fried chicken, and Jamaican jerk chicken piled high onto the traditional flour tortillas.
Not for the faint of heart, and probably too messy to eat in the car, we love these left-of-center tacos for their bold and experimental flavors.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Moe’s Southwest Grill is a newcomer to the fast food taco game.
Since opening in 2000, the chain has expanded to over 600 locations with its delicious and traditional approach to tacos.
The tacos on Moe’s menu are traditional and made-to-order. This approach allows for the ingredients to shine through.
So whether you order a steak, spicy chicken, adobo chicken, beef, tofu, or veggie taco, your tortilla will pack a flavorful punch. For an added kick, add some of their famous queso.
My favorite part of Moe’s is its culture. The restaurant’s name stands for Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers. Moe’s makes the time you spend ordering or dining in their restaurant the coolest part of your day.
Qdoba first opened its doors in Denver, Colorado as Zumba Fresh Mexican Grill.
The restaurant’s emphasis on using healthier cooking techniques, particularly its vegetable oils and increased use of herbs and vegetables, led to its immediate success.
Qdoba’s tortilla options differ slightly, as they don’t offer a crunchy taco shell. You’ll still have the choice of a corn tortilla, but it will be soft.
Choose between grilled adobo chicken, grilled adobo steak, seasoned ground beef, slow-braised pulled pork, Cholula Hot & Sweet Chicken, or veggies for your tacos’ protein.
If you’re feeling adventurous, I’d recommend filling your tortilla with the Cholula Hot & Sweet Chicken. This mix of hot sauce and honey makes each bite complex yet balanced.
Check out other popular orders at Qdoba to plan your next trip.
Taco Bell is one of the most iconic fast food restaurants in America.
Thanks to its affordable menu and innovative marketing, the brand has continually grown since its modest 1962 beginnings.
Taco Bell is one of the best fast food tacos you can get because it’s the best of all the worlds we’re exploring on this list. It’s cheap, fast, customizable, and fun.
Not only can you substitute beans for beef or chicken, but you can experiment with unique tortilla options.
Whether you keep it traditional and get a soft or crunchy taco, or try something off the wall like a crunchy shell wrapped in a soft shell – or a shell made of Doritos – the price and flavor are always right.
El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco is Spanish for “The Crazy Chicken,” and the owners of this delicious Mexican-style grilled chicken restaurant weren’t kidding – the chicken is crazy good.
But chicken better be the protein you’re craving because, with the occasional exception of fish, that’s the only meat option you’ll have at El Pollo Loco.
You won’t mind, though. Once you sink your teeth into their perfectly cooked chicken, you’ll go crazy!
El Pollo Loco fashions its tacos after traditional street fare, so the flavor is bold while the ingredients are simple.
The Chicken Taco Al Carbon is my favorite menu item, with its delicious diced onions and cilantro lingering while the soft corn tortilla and boneless chicken soak up a light squeeze of lime.
Jack in the Box
Jack in the Box was the first fast food restaurant to use a two-way intercom system in its drive-thru.
The innovation helped this 1950s hamburger shop thrive into the late-night fast food headquarters it is today.
Full disclosure: if you’re looking for an authentic taco, see the list above. But if it’s late and you’re hungry, or if you like your food to have the flair of a test kitchen, then look no further.
The Jack in the Box taco is taco sauce smothered over ground beef, topped with lettuce and a slice of American cheese.
While the choice of cheese and quality of the tortilla makes this taco most suitable for the “munchies,” it quickly becomes a favorite of students and earns a nostalgic place in fast food connoisseurs’ diets.
We hope that, whether it’s Tuesday or not, this comprehensive list of fast food tacos from Mexican fast food chains makes any night a great night for tacos.
From made-to-order fast casual restaurants to the nostalgic and cheap drive-thru options, we’ve taken a look at the best tacos you can pick up on the way home, during a quick lunch break, or when the late-night munchies strike.
Tacos go hand in hand with fast food because they rely on a few simple ingredients. Their rich flavors remind us that Mexican culture has helped shape America’s palate.