Opinion: Mexi-can

Andrew Trudeau, director of Savanta, on Mexican food’s enduring appeal in America.

Mexican cuisine has brilliantly woven itself into the fabric of dining culture in America. This evolution from being a niche to a mainstream staple narrates a tale of not only changing cultural dynamics, but also underscores the deep-rooted historical and socio-economic ties between the US and Mexico.

In a fluctuating Eating Out brands top 10, led by Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, only one other brand has held onto its position since 2022 – Taco Bell. The Tex-Mex chain broke into the top 10 last year and has now secured its status there at number eight after an impressive 2023 so far.

First, it won the battle for Taco Tuesday to be free of trademark restrictions in 49 states. Then it celebrated generously by opening a $5m DoorDash taco tab for Tuesday September 12th, covering taco lovers’ orders from any Mexican outlet, not just Taco Bell’s!

A distinctive social media strategy wins through a bold take on subliminal instant messaging (e.g. ‘the best nights end with taco bell’), and for the last two Super Bowls, marketers have done a great job capitalising on the hype for its Mexican Pizzas.

With the popularity of Margarita Mondays, Fajita Fridays and, of course, the aforementioned Taco Tuesdays, Mexican food is well placed to be America’s next favourite international cuisine after Italian. One thing’s for sure, as Taco Bell likes to say, it’s time to live más and embrace our love of the Mexican eating-out experience

Indeed, out of the eight Mexican cuisine brands in Savanta’s Top 100 table, almost all of them have gained places year-on-year. In ranking order, the list includes #45 Uncle Julio’s (+19), #56 Taco John’s (+19), #70 Rubio’s (+26), #90 El Pollo Loco (+18), #95 Del Taco (+8) and #96 Qdoba (+5).

The only exception is Chipotle, ranking #30 since last year’s #26 position, but still the second most loved Mexican food brand. It is looking for new admirers, however, announcing in January ambitious plans to double its footprint by expanding to 7,000 new locations.

BrandVue’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands in the US is informed by the opinions of more than 72,000 consumers. Savanta has used their responses to compile a comprehensive league table of the Top 100 eating out brands the US love the most. You can download it at savanta.com/knowledge-centre/view/our-strong-stable-relationship-with-mexican-food


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