An Astounding 1 In 10 U.S. Restaurants Serve This Cuisine

The prevalence of Mexican food is a reflection of the American population and its tastes.

If you find yourself satisfying a taco craving at least a few times each week, you're not the only one. After analyzing data from Yelp and location data company SafeGraph, Pew Research Center has found that approximately one in 10 restaurants in the United States serves Mexican food. Let that sink in for a second.

Depending on where you live, obviously, the restaurants in your area may not exactly reflect that statistic. Still, the analysis reveals that 85% of counties in the U.S. have at least one Mexican restaurant, which should give you a pretty good idea of how Mexico's culinary traditions have influenced the food we enjoy at restaurants.

The U.S. states with the most Mexican restaurants

The two states where Mexican restaurants are most common shouldn't come as a surprise: California and Texas. That's because these two states, which share a border with Mexico, are also the ones with the highest Mexican-American population. In total, California and Texas are home to just under 40% of the Mexican restaurants in the country; 22% are located in California and 17% are in Texas.


Other states where Mexican restaurants are common include Florida, New York, and Illinois, each representing 4% of the nationwide total. That means that the majority of Mexican restaurants (51%) are situated in California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois. (I'm going to chime in to say that Chicago's Mexican food scene is stellar, in case you come visit our fine city.)

Mexican restaurants in the U.S. all share certain features

On the review platform Yelp, 61% of the Mexican restaurants are listed as "one dollar sign" out of four possible dollar signs, which means an establishment is as affordable as it gets. The pricier restaurants tend to be in urban areas like Los Angeles County, Cook County (Chicago), and New York County.


The low price point makes sense when you consider that 22% of the Mexican restaurants in the U.S. are classified as fast food and 8% fall under the food truck or cart category. And let's not forget about an important subcategory: 6% serve Tex-Mex cuisine. The American preference for fast and on-the-go cuisine means the prevalence of these restaurants was all but inevitable.

Though 40% of the Hispanic and Latino population in the U.S. is composed of non-Mexican people, only 2% of U.S. restaurants serve food that is Hispanic or Latino that's not Mexican. This includes cuisines such as Salvadoran, Peruvian, Caribbean, and Cuban, which are all delicious in their own right.

You can read Pew's full analysis here, and see how the numbers stack up for your home region. Do you have a favorite Mexican restaurant in your neighborhood?