It’s an absurd headline that could only exist in 2018: Taco Bell Voted Best Mexican Restaurant in the Country. Now listen, we all know it’s an undisputed fact that Taco Bell is better than Chipotle in every single way. OK, maybe in not every single way. Chipotle does have the upper hand in interior design.
They also have the upper hand in bag design and their chips are admittedly tastier. But let’s not forget that Chipotle also beats out T. Bell in E. coli outbreaks, not to mention that it’s way more expensive despite their offers of wacker, less adventurous versions of the same food.
Sure, it’s cooler to Instagram your Chipotle meals and for a while it became a hip place to eat at for whatever reason, but Taco Bell’s undeniably more delicious, cheaper, and believe it or not, healthier for you (depending on how much of it you’re eating).
But the best Mexican restaurant in the country? Like, out of all the amazing Mexican restaurants in the United States, a fast food Tex-Mex chain was named the top dog?
I love me some Taco Bell, I love the stuff that they do. I love the fact that they even had a Thanksgiving-themed celebration with special items for their employees, complete with awesome menus and everything. It’s easily the best watered-down Tex-Mex fast food chain in the world.
Taco Supreme Croquettes, Butternut Squash Chalupa bites, Turkerito, Gordita Bread Stuffing, Pumpkin Spiced Caramel Apple Empanadas — these menu items are nothing short of incredible and I can’t hold anything against an amazing restaurant that comes up with food like this. How could I?
But to call it the best Mexican Restaurant in the country is a tad bit of a stretch. I’m no foodie by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m sure there are at least 30 Mexican restaurants within 20 miles of me that are better than Taco Bell. Heck, my favorite place in Jersey City, Orale, blows every Mexican restaurant I’ve ever been to out of the water.
The fact that a fast food place that doesn’t even serve authentic Mexican food, but rather, a fast-food version of Tex-Mex (it’s amazing, and I love it, but it’s not Mexican food) has got a lot of people online feeling disrespected.
Some people couldn’t get over the fact that it wasn’t an ironic story at all. Others questioned what exactly the demographics behind the votes and polled parties were.
People with grievances against the vote should turn their ire not to the franchise that dares to think outside the bun, but rather, to the folks over at Harris polling involved in this study.
They questioned over 77,000 different people and asked them to select their favorite Mexican restaurant in the U.S. Baja Fresh, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Del Taco, Chipotle, and Qdoba, among others, were included in the survey.
For some people, the results of the poll just confirmed what they already knew: Taco Bell stands tall above the rest. Well, at least when it comes to the kinds of restaurants Harris Polls included in their census.
A lot of Taco Bell’s success in the poll could be attributed its mainstream popularity as of late. Its marketing campaigns and product launches are apparently working.
Take Nacho Fries, for example. They’re just regularly seasoned french fries that you can dip into nacho cheese. You’d think they wouldn’t be that big of an idea, but you’d be wrong, because Nacho Fries was actually the most successful food item launch in the company’s entire portfolio. More than Doritos Locos tacos, more than their as-close-to-Nirvana-as-you’ll-get chicken quesadilla.
All the chain’s recent wins have led the Tex-Mex restaurant to become the fourth largest fast food brand in the United States. It surpassed Burger King and only trails behind McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway. That’s huge.
The problem with ranking anything as the “best” in the U.S. is that it’s basically a contest based on widespread availability and numbers. So essentially, the most ubiquitous chain will almost always win.
Which was expertly pointed out by Twitter user @alexandraerin, who answered people’s gripes with Taco Bell’s position as the top Mexican restaurant in the nation. It’s not about the quality of their food, but rather the popularity of the product.
Which is also why, as they pointed out further, it doesn’t matter that Taco Bell doesn’t technically serve Mexican food. Why it also doesn’t matter that Drake technically doesn’t produce rap music, yet his albums dominate those charts and playlists on popular streaming platforms.
In 2017, Moe’s Southwest Grill was voted the top Mexican restaurant, with Chipotle taking the prize in 2016 — proving that this polling system is designed for the masses. If you want more mom-and-pop authentic dining experiences, try localized Google searches and Yelp reviews in an area, or ask for recommendations from local folk, the old-fashioned way.
If there’s one things the locals know, it’s a good spot to spend their hard-earned dollars on food. I mean, off the top of my head, I can give you 20 restaurants you should go to right by my house, and about 15 you should avoid like the plague. That being said, you can’t go wrong with some Taco Bell.