When the craving for Mexican food strikes, tacos may seem like a healthy option: grilled meat, fresh pico de gallo, a sprinkle of cheddar, a little heart-healthy guacamole…what could go wrong? And the comfort food certainly seems like a better alternative to its cheese-covered counterparts on the menu. (We're looking at you, nachos and quesadillas.) Tacos are even light enough to ignite the new tongue-in-cheek fad diet called the Taco Cleanse, which even Jennifer Aniston is trying.
Unfortunately, the simple meat-and-veggie combo can quickly spiral out of control and result in a deep-fried, sauce-laden diet disaster. Next time you sit down and peruse the menu at your favorite restaurant, be sure to steer clear of these 10 taco dishes. Even without a side of rice and beans or a bunch of tortilla chips, some of these tacos pack in buckets of fat grams and terrifying levels of sodium! Although the meals listed below are basically giving up on your weight loss goals, don't fret—we've also included some lighter options to curb your taco cravings without packing on the unwanted pounds. Find out the best and worst taco options from 10 popular chains below—and then always be sure to avoid The #1 Worst Menu Option at 40 Popular Restaurants!
On the Border: Dos XX Fish Tacos – 3
Nutrition: 2,030 calories, 134 g fat, 27 g saturated fat, 3,830 mg sodium, 153 g carbs
These beer-battered, deep-fried fish tacos are by far the worst on our list, coming it at more than a day's worth of calories. With a creamy red chile sauce, cheese, and flour tortillas, it's the perfect belly fat storm of calories, sodium, and saturated fat.
Eat This Instead: Opt for a lighter taco combo, like On the Border's Border Smart: 2 Grilled Chicken Fajita Tacos; the difference is, well, loco.
Nutrition: 300 calories, 8 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 880 mg sodium, 34 g carbs
54th St. Grill: Border Attack Beef Tacos
Nutrition: 1,458 calories, 72 g fat, 31 g saturated fat, 3,287 mg sodium, 122 g carbs
There's not much on the 54th St. Grill menu that's diet-friendly, but these Border Attack tacos are extra-awful. Surrounded by fried tortilla chips and 54th's famous gringo dip (think: tons of melted cheese and heavy cream), ordering these tacos will set you back nearly 1,500 calories!
Eat This Instead:Skip the tacos altogether at 54th St., and opt for a healthy piece of fish like the 54th. Street Grill Blackened Atlantic Salmon.
Nutrition: 556 calories, 42 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 912 mg sodium, 4.6 g carbs
Don Pablos: Chipotle-Honey Shrimp Taco Trio Without Dressing
Nutrition: 1,440 calories, 62 g fat, 22 g saturated fat, 4,560 mg sodium, 161 carbs
Asking for the sugary dressing to come on the side won't save yourself that much damage since the shrimp gets hand-battered and deep-fried, either way. Throw in some Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and flour tortillas, and it's no surprise this meal is a gut-grower.
Eat This Instead: We can't really comprehend why the sodium counts are so crazy-high here, but if you must have tacos, choose Don Pablos' Create Your Own Combo: 3 Crispy Chicken Tacos.
Nutrition: 504 calories, 24 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 4,560 mg sodium, 27 g carbs
Bonefish Grill: Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos
Nutrition: 1,171 calories, 79 g of fat, 18 g saturated fat, 2,780 mg sodium, 79 g carbs
Deep-fried and covered in a sweet Thai chili mayo, Bonefish Grill's bang bang shrimp is one of the most popular—but unhealthy—items on the menu. Added to flour tortillas, topped with sour cream, and served with a side of fries, this menu item quickly racks up a fattening nutritional profile.
Eat This Instead: If you're still dying to have the bang bang shrimp and don't plan on consuming salt for the rest of the day, the flatbread appetizer—Bonefish Grill's Bang Bang Shrimp Flatbread—has all of the same flavors but with lighter toppings.
Nutrition: 521 calories, 30 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1,689 mg sodium, 42 g carbs
Cheesecake Factory: Baja Chicken Tacos
Nutrition: 1,160 calories, 50 g fat, 20 g saturated fat, 2,130 mg sodium, 113 g carbs
With its over-the-top menu items and fattening dishes, the Cheesecake Factory isn't exactly known for diet-friendly dishes. Unfortunately, these baja chicken tacos are no exception. The order comes with four soft corn tortilla tacos, each packed with spicy chicken, tons of cheese, and a heaping serving of avocado. Add the rice and beans on the side, and you are looking at a day's worth of fat.
Eat This Instead: The sodium count is still way too high to be called healthy, but if you're already here and dying for tacos, choose the Cheesecake Factory Skinnylicious Soft Tacos with Shrimp.
Nutrition: 580 calories, 10 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 1,566 mg sodium, 64 g carbs
Outback Steakhouse: Aussie Steak Tacos
Nutrition: 1,122 calories, 71 g fat, 23.6 g saturated fat, 1,579 mg sodium, 54.11 g carbs
These steak tacos are right up there with Outback's Bloomin' Onion: greasy, fattening, and guaranteed to derail your healthy eating plan. Although there are some healthier options at Outback, these tacos are topped with melted cheese, herb aioli, and crispy (aka fried) slaw—so, basically diet suicide.
Eat This Instead: It's better to abandon the taco idea altogether at Outback. If you're craving a tortilla and meat combo, go with Outback Steakhouse's Chicken & Artichoke Flatbread.
Nutrition: 367 calories, 18.26 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, sodium n/a/, 30.5 g carbs
El Torito: Carnitas Taco Trio
Nutrition: 1,110 calories, fat n/a, 15 g saturated fat, 2,540 mg sodium, 105 g carbs
El Torito brags that its street-style tacos are just like the trucks in Mexico, but that may not be a good thing; Mexico is now the fattest country in the Americas, after all. Chock full of all kinds of toppings, including fried beans and rice, these tacos are better off back in the taco truck and off your plate.
Eat This Instead: Try the El Torito's 2 Soft Tacos with Chicken and resist the urge to fill up on chips and guac.
Nutrition: 520 calories, fat n/a, 7 g saturated fat, 1,380 mg sodium, 40 g carbs
Chevy's: Mesquite-Grilled Steak Tacos
Nutrition: 1,050 calories, 38 grams of fat, 12 g saturated fat, 2,320 mg sodium, 123 g carbs
Soft tacos from Chevy's are guaranteed to come packed with carbs, thanks to its famous soft flour tortillas. This menu item comes with not one, but two large tacos, which are topped with chipotle aioli (aka fancy mayo) and cotija cheese. Add a heaping side of rice and beans, and you've got a 1,000+ calorie meal.
Eat This Instead: Look past the plates and entree options and choose Chevy's a la carte menu – 2 crispy beef tacos.
Nutrition: 460 calories, 18 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 400 mg sodium, 36 g carbs
California Pizza Kitchen: Fish Tacos with Avocado
Nutrition: 1,040 calories, 61 grams of fat, 14 g saturated fat, 1,620 mg sodium, 91 g carbs
The popular pizza joint is known for more than just their pies. Unfortunately, the pizza alternatives aren't much better for your waistline. Although fish and avocado are both healthy, the mahi mahi here is panko-covered and fried, served with a homemade ranchito sauce and tortilla chips.
Eat This Instead: Keep the same bold and spicy flavors and cut 600 calories but choosing California Pizza Kitchen's Fire Roasted Chile Relleno instead.
Nutrition: 420 calories, 27g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 870 mg sodium, 29 g carbs
Chili's: Pork Carnitas Tacos
Nutrition: 1,000 calories, 58 g fat, 21 g saturated fat, 2,280 mg sodium, 51 g carbs
Whenever you see carnitas on the menu, consider this your warning: Fattier meat that's been braised in oil means tons of unwanted calories and saturated fat. These flour tortillas-wrapped carnitas tacos come in an order of three and are topped with shredded jack cheese and queso. A side of rice and beans means this meal has almost twice the daily recommended intake of saturated fat.
Eat This Instead: Slash your calories, fat, and carbs in half with Chili's Fresh Mex Pairings: Two Chicken Tacos.
Nutrition: 520 calories, 21 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 2,880 mg sodium, 20 g carbs