The Best Fast-Food Tacos, Ranked


Whether they came from the drive thru or sitting down to a meal in the restaurant, we embarked on a mission to find the best fast-food tacos.

For this experiment, we wanted to level the playing field as much as possible. All the samples were hard shell tacos filled with the beef option offered at the restaurant. Even if there were many options available, we kept the toppings simple: lettuce, cheese and possibly some sort of tomatoes or salsa.

We looked at the seasoning of the beef, the crunch from the taco shell and the freshness of the toppings. It was a delicious task and the findings were surprising!

5. Taco John’s

Coming in at the bottom of our list for fast-food tacos was Taco John’s. While we did appreciate that this taco was generously filled with lots of well-seasoned ground beef, the taco shell was quite greasy, making our fingers messier than expected in the typical taco-eating experience. It is impressive that Taco John’s is committed to frying their own taco shells in-house daily, but our sample could have used a bit more draining before filling.

This taco would be difficult to enjoy on the go, so it might not be the best to order at the drive-thru. We would have liked a little more lettuce to add a fresh crunch to the experience, but we did enjoy that the taco offered medium heat without any additional sauce.

Pro: Taco John’s makes their own taco shells in-house every day, so they will always have a fresh crunch.

Con: The tacos are quite messy and not conducive to a drive-thru meal.

Takeaway: Grab a few extra napkins if you plan on ordering a Taco John’s taco.

4. Taco Bell

Taco Bell is a classic when it comes to fast food tacos and at $1.69 for a crunchy taco, the price is right when you are on a budget. From the crunch of the shell to the seasoned beef, everything about this taco gave me nostalgic ’90s shopping mall vibes. As fun as that is, the fast-food taco game has improved dramatically in the past 30 years. While Taco Bell is readily available and a reliable choice for inexpensive tacos, other restaurants have since surpassed this old-school staple.

Pro: These tacos are drive-thru ready.

Con: The ingredients didn’t feel as fresh as other fast-food options.

Takeaway: When you are craving a nostalgic taco on the go, Taco Bell delivers.

3. Chipotle

At $9.95 for 3 tacos, Chipotle was the priciest taco option on our list. Ground beef isn’t an option offered at Chipotle, so we went with the steak filling instead. The meat is high-quality and the ingredients are always fresh, so in that sense, these tacos did not disappoint.

We also love all the topping options at Chipotle to really customize your meal every time. However, guacamole is an extra $2.60 at Chipotle and adding an order of chips and salsa will set you back an additional $2.15. We love their corn salsa, but that’s quite a hit on the wallet. When we saw what other restaurants are doing, these extra charges started to add up and caused their tacos to be ranked lower on our list.

Pro: Chipotle changed the fast-casual game with their build-your-own menu items and commitment to quality.

Con: With extra charges for additional ingredients and sides, the bill can add up quickly.

Takeaway: Chipotle will always be a solid option for fresh Mexican cuisine, but it will also come at a price.

2. Qdoba

Qdoba prides itself on hand-crafted menu items with quality ingredients and contemporary flavors. Their seasoned ground beef tacos were wonderfully flavorful, and we loved the fresh vegetables. There are many topping choices at Qdoba, which also made these tacos very appealing.

As a bonus, at Qdoba guacamole and queso are available at no extra charge. Qdoba sells their entrée option as 3 tacos for $9.25, so it is important to note this is a significant price hike from the more budget-friendly options on this list.

Pro: Sometimes in life, guac is not extra.

Con: Higher quality ingredients come with a higher price tag.

Takeaway: Qdoba offers tacos with fresh ingredients and many ways to customize your meal.

1. Moe’s Southwest Grill

Our favorite fast-food taco experience was at Moe’s Southwest Grill. They offer a unique build-your-own taco experience where you can choose between one, two or three tacos and then build them however you like. Instead of committing to only one filling for all three tacos, you can fill them with any combination of sirloin steak, chicken, ground beef, pork or organic tofu.

Moe’s is truly a standout when it comes to its toppings and salsas. In fact, seasonal salsas and pico are made in-house every single day. They are all laid out in the salsa bar where you can scoop and sample as many as you like throughout the meal. Plus, Moe’s offers free chips and salsa with every single order. All of this made the Moe’s taco experience not only the most delicious but also the most bang for your buck.

Pro: The array of topping choices at the fresh salsa bar makes these tacos stand out.

Con: You have to sit down inside the restaurant to partake in all these options.

Takeaway: You can keep coming back to Moe’s and have a unique flavor experience every time.

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