This Is the One Taco Chain That Chefs Actually Rave About
Crunchy versus soft shell, spicy or mild salsa, add or hold the onions—there are countless ways to order tacos and burritos. Whether you swear by Taco Bell or find yourself to be more of a Chipotle kind of person, quick and tasty Mexican-inspired food from your nearby taco chain just hits the spot. And with thousands of taco chain locations across the U.S., each offering a blend of tried-and-true classics and special menu items, you're never too far away from a delicious meal.
And, just as you have your favorite order from your go-to taco chain, chefs do, too. We asked chefs which taco chain they turn to when the mood for guacamole and chips or a burrito strikes. While they had varying responses one chain kept coming up over and over again. Here are the chains chefs turn to, as well as their overwhelming favorite.
It's no surprise that Taco Bell is so popular among the experts. Founded in California in 1962, this iconic taco chain is synonymous with tasty tacos, quesadillas, burritos, and more. Its cult-favorite specials, such as the Crunchwrap Supreme and Cheesy Gordita Crunch, have also won over the hearts of many, including chefs. Taco Bell, which currently has over 7,000 locations throughout 30 countries, serves 40 million customers each week in the U.S. alone.
Robbie Shoults, celebrity chef and owner of the award-winning restaurant Bear Creek Smokehouse in Marshall, Texas, cites Taco Bell as his favorite taco spot. "My favorite taco joint is Taco Bell, where I faithfully order the Super Nachos, where I can customize them and load up on the things I love the most," says Shoults. "Make that double jalapenos for me please!"
Deepak Saxena, a chef at Masala Lab and Desi PDX in Portland, Ore., is also a big fan of the iconic restaurant. "My go-to if I work late at night is three taco supremes and a cheesy melt with beef added," says Saxena. He shares that it's a nostalgic place that reminds him of high school days when he'd hang out with friends and play video games. "We'd usually do a Taco Bell run at midnight to get food," he adds.
Kyle Jones, head chef at Craft Wood Fired Catering, comments how he loves how the chain has managed to keep its menu fresh and innovative throughout the decades, while still highlighting that classic Tex-Mex flavor people love so much. Jones' must-have order is the Crunchwrap Supreme with double beef, extra cheese, and "all the toppings." "It's a delicious combination of crunchy and soft tortillas with flavorful beef and melted cheese—it never fails to hit the spot," he says.
Another Taco Bell lover is K.C. Gulbro, chef, restaurateur, and chef ambassador for Certified Angus Beef. He's also the owner of FoxFire and Copper Fox in Geneva, Ill. "This was a hard choice as I love both Taco Bell and Chipotle!" says Gulbro. Gulbro's favorite order from Taco Bell includes the Gordita and/or the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos, which are both menu must-tries.
Gulbro can't talk about favorite taco chains without also mentioning Chipotle. Chipotle Mexican Grill, which often just goes by "Chipotle," started in 1993 with its first location in Denver, right near Denver University. Nearly 30 short years later, and the chain currently has nearly 3,000 locations across the world, with new locations always popping up.
"From Chipotle, I love the burrito bowls or the taco salads—both with barbacoa," says Gulbro.
Chef Tucker, a Sweet Earth culinary innovation and development chef, is a big fan of Chronic Tacos, the California-founded taco chain that has over 60 locations throughout the United States, Canada, and Japan. For over a decade, this restaurant has been serving up delicious tacos, Mission- and California-style burritos, tostadas, and more.
"I especially love that their menu includes several plant-based options, making it a convenient go-to no matter who I'm dining with," says Tucker. "My favorite order is their Sweet Earth plant-based Chik'n tacos with extra salsa."