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The Unhealthiest Restaurant Tacos—Ranked

When that taco craving hits, there are some options you're going to want to avoid.

When the craving for tacos strikes, it may seem like an overall healthy option: grilled meat or veggies, pico de gallo, a sprinkle of cheese, a little heart-healthy guacamole—what could go wrong? And going for the restaurant tacos must be a better alternative to some of those cheese-covered counterparts on the menu like nachos and quesadillas. Unfortunately, though, the simple meat-and-veggie combo can quickly spiral out of control and result in a deep-fried, sauce-laden diet disaster.

So the next time you sit down and take a look at the taco options on the menu at your favorite restaurant, you'll want to make sure you don't fall victim to the wrong meal. Read on to uncover the unhealthiest restaurant tacos, ranked from bad to the absolute worst.


BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse Barbacoa Cauliflower Pita Tacos

bjs tacos
Courtesy of BJ's Restaurant
Per meal: 800 calories, 35 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,166 mg sodium, 67 g carbs (14 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 23 g protein

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse has an "Enlightened" section of the menu, which essentially means any dish listed there is a healthier meal option. But these tacos are proof that, well, this isn't necessarily always the case. They are made with roasted barbacoa cauliflower and are topped with roasted red peppers, sweet corn, onion, tomatoes, and even a Greek yogurt cream sauce. There are also Jack and cheddar cheeses to factor in and overall, while this meal comes in under 1,000 calories (which is sadly hard to find in most restaurants!), it's still high in sodium, the highest out of all the taco options at BJ's.


Hooters Baja Fish Tacos, Fried

hooters tacos
Courtesy of Hooters
Per meal: 850 calories, 55 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,180 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (7 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 33 g protein

At Hooters, the tacos are rather simple, as they're just filled with pico de gallo, cabbage, and a special sauce. But choosing the fried fish over the grilled is where the calories, fat, and sodium go up. Always be careful of anything labeled "crispy," as it's one of the common menu words that are secretly red flags.


Bahama Breeze Coconut Shrimp Tacos

bahama breeze shrimp tacos
Courtesy of Bahama Breeze
Per 3 tacos: 900 calories, 44 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,710 mg sodium, 101 g carbs (8 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 25 g protein

Not only do you need to be worried about the sodium in these crispy coconut tacos from Bahama Breeze, but the sugar, too! Instead, if you're looking for healthy dishes you can try making at home, be sure to sign up for our newsletter to get daily recipes and food news in your inbox.


California Pizza Kitchen Crispy Fish Tacos

cpk fish tacos
Courtesy of CPK
Per meal: 1,150 calories, 67 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,580 mg sodium, 101 g carbs (14 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 39 g protein

No, you don't have to get pizza when you're dining at California Pizza Kitchen, but these crispy fish tacos are a no-go. The tortillas are filled with panko-crusted filleted white fish, and again, its the fried fish that's not ideal.


Chili's Tacho Chili's 1975

chilis soft tacos
Courtesy of Chili's
Per meal: 1,160 calories, 57 g fat (19 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,060 mg sodium, 117 g carbs (9 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 37 g protein

The motto of this dish might be to "Party like it's 1975 with this Chili's classic," but with the amount of sodium you're getting here, there is nothing to celebrate.

Here, three flour tortillas are filled with Original Chili, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes which seems harmless. But it's hard to ignore the fact that The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day for most adults, and this dish is coming in with more than 3,000 milligrams. Yikes. Skip it, along with any of the saltiest restaurant meals on the planet.


Outback Steakhouse Aussie Tacos, Chicken

chicken tacos
Per 3 tacos: 1,200 calories, 82 g fat (29 g saturated fat, 3.5 g trans fat), 1,700 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (7 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 65 g protein

The Aussie Tacos are one of Outback Steakhouse's "Forkless Features" and while it's a regional menu item, it's one to avoid if it's served at your local Outback. Those 3.5 grams of trans fat are more than enough reason to run far away, but this nutrition breakdown is just for the three grilled chicken tacos. That's not including the rice and beans you get as the side dish, which adds on an additional 1,510 milligrams of sodium.


Cheesecake Factory Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos

cheesecake factory fish tacos
Steve R./Yelp
Per meal: 1,380 calories, 68 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,870 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (17 g fiber, 15 g sugar), 51 g protein

It's no secret that all of the dishes served up at Cheesecake Factory are over-the-top, and the Crispy Beer Battered Fish Tacos are no exception. When fish is fried, and in a beer batter no less, you know that means you're in for a highly caloric, fatty, sodium-filled dish. That's exactly what you get here!


On the Border Dos XX Fish Tacos

on the border dos xx fish tacos
On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina/Facebook
Per 3 tacos: 1,510 calories, 102 g fat (28 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 3,650 mg sodium, 105 g carbs (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 41 g protein

On the Border thought it was a good idea to also deep-fry beer-battered fish for its tacos. With a creamy red chile sauce, cheese, and flour tortillas, it's the perfect belly fat storm of calories, sodium, and saturated fat.


Bonefish Grill Bang Bang Shrimp Tacos

Bonefish grill bang bang shrimp tacos
Courtesy of Bonefish Grill
Per meal: 1,570 calories, 98 g fat (23 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,830 mg sodium, (14 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 42 g protein

Bonefish Grill's bang bang shrimp is a beloved menu item, but that doesn't excuse the lack of nutritional value. The shrimp in these tacos are deep-fried and covered in a sweet Thai chili mayo and sour cream. Plus, the tacos are served with a side of fries, quickly creating a fattening nutritional profile for this dish.


Applebee's BBQ Brisket Tacos

applebees brisket tacos
Per meal: 1,620 calories, 88 g fat (23 g saturated fat, 1.5 g trans fat), 3,860 mg sodium, 165 g carbs (11 g fiber, 32 g sugar), 40 g protein

Applebee's BBQ Brisket Tacos take the title of worst restaurant tacos. This dish is described as "bursting with big Texas flavor," as it's made up of flour tortillas that are filled with shredded beef brisket, spicy Texas BBQ sauce, a blend of cheddar cheeses and pico de gallo, topped with crispy onions, and a Mexi-ranch dressing and cilantro. Oh, and it's also served with fries. The result is a dish that comes in at more than 1,600 calories and is packing 3,860 milligrams of sodium. That's more sodium than if you ate 340 Lay's potato chips and nearly all of your daily allotted calories. Just in one meal? No thanks!

Jennifer Maldonado
Jennifer Maldonado is a senior editor at Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and health content. Read more
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