Shopping Cart
No products in the cart.

Top 14 Mexican Food Franchises: AUV, Cost & Stats (2023)

If you’re considering getting into the Mexican cuisine industry, buying a franchise can be a great option. Yet, which franchise should you choose? There are a number of Mexican food franchises you can choose from, each with their own pros and cons.

In this article we are giving you our top 6 picks of the best Mexican cuisine franchises in the US.

For each we’re giving you the key financials: the average initial investment cost and Average Unit Volume (AUV). Also, if you want to dig deeper, you’ll find the links to our complete review for each franchise below.

FranchiseUS franchised unitsInvestmentAUVNet worthLiquid capital
Taco Bell6,540779,0001,057,0001,500,000750,000
Moe’s Southwest Grill658792,0001,013,0001,000,000100,000
Qdoba Mexican Eats406659,000973,0001,000,000500,000
Taco John’s3801,119,0001,125,0001,000,000400,000
Del Taco Fresh Mexican Grill306779,0001,057,0002,000,000500,000
Fuzzy’s Taco134902,0001,645,000500,000150,000

Taco Bell

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Taco Bell is an American fast food chain restaurant business. It is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. Taco Bell sells Mexican-inspired foods such as nachos, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, etc.

Taco Bell was founded in 1962 by Glen Bell, but Pepsi purchased the brand in 1978 and made it a division of Tricon Global Restaurants, which was later renamed as Yum! Brands, Inc.

The first franchisee store opened in 1964, and by 1967, Taco Bell opened its 100th restaurant.

In 2018, Taco Bell had 7,072 restaurants operating globally (Asia, Europe, the UK, Middle East, North America, and Oceana), of which, 93% of the locations are franchise-owned stores.

Moe’s Southwest Grill

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Moe’s Southwest Grill is an American fast casual restaurant chain owned by Focus Brands, along with Cinnabon, Carvel, McAlister’s Deli, Auntie Anne’sJamba, and Schlotzsky’s.

The chain was founded by H. Martin Sprock III in 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia.

It serves mainly Mexican-style cuisine and other southwestern fare such as burritos, tacos, quesadillas, nachos, salads, stacks, burrito bowls, and house-made seasonal salsas. It also offers customized menu items, and every order comes with chips and salsa.

Moe is an acronym for “musicians, outlaws, and entertainers,” and musicians form part of its restaurant design.

Moe’s Southwest Grill began franchising in 2001, and now it has 650 stores in the US and globally.

Qdoba Mexican Eats

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Qdoba Mexican Eats is a fast-casual restaurant chain in the United States and Canada.

It was founded in 1995 by Anthony Miller and Robert Hauser in Denver, Colorado.  

Headquartered in San Diego, California, the restaurant chain is well known for its Mexican-styled food, including burritos, nachos, taco salads, and quesadillas.

All restaurants serve chips and a wide variety of sauces, dips, and soft drinks, while a few may also sell wine, margaritas, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats has been franchising since 1997 and has today over 750 restaurants in the US and Canada, of which 406 are franchised-owned (54%).

Taco John’s

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Taco John’s International, Inc. is a prominent American chain restaurant founded in 1969 by John Turner. The fast food restaurant chain is based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and offers Mexican-styled food and the signature potato oles dish.

Taco John’s is famed for serving the needs of the new generation, and its innovative menu includes burritos, tacos, salads, desserts, and beverages.

The quick-service restaurant started franchising in 1969 after Turner struck a deal with Woodson and Holmes.

Today, it has become a multi-million dollar business with 369 units spread across 22 US states.

Del Taco Fresh Mexican Grill

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Del Taco is an American fast-food restaurant chain that primarily operates in the western and southern US.

The chain was founded in 1964 by Ed Hackbarth and David Jameson in Yermo, California, where it is headquartered. The chain was recently acquired by Jack-in-the-Box in 2022.

Del Taco serves American-style Mexican cuisine such as tacos and mission burritos as well as American foods such as burgers, salads, fries, and shakes.

It started franchising in 1967 and has over 600 restaurants in 16 US states today.

Fuzzy’s Taco

US franchised unitsInvestmentAverage Unit Volume

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is an American fast casual restaurant chain offering Baja-style Mexican cuisine. 

Founded in 2001 by Paul Willis, this brand offers delicious Mexican dishes, including nachos, tacos, quesadillas, salads, grilled sandwiches, breakfast dishes, and burritos. 

It is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, USA, where it rose from its humble beginnings on West Berry Street to become a highly rated fast-casual restaurant. 

Chuck and Alan Bush purchased the company in 2003 and began franchising in 2007. Today, the fast-casual restaurant chain is a subsidiary of Dine Brands Global and serves more than 150 locations in 17 US states.


TacoTime is a quick-service restaurant chain that offers a tasty variety of freshly prepared, home-style Mexican fare. Also, it serves chips, taco shells, salsas, special sauces, real aged cheddar cheese, 100% boneless, skinless all-white meat chicken and top-quality lean ground beef that is fresh and never frozen.

TacoTime was founded in 1960 by Ron Fraedrick in Eugene, Oregon, who in his pursuit of preparing and serving his style of fresh, high-quality Mexican fast food to the hordes of hungry college kids back in his hometown Eugene, decided to open the first walk-up TacoTime restaurant adjacent to the University.

TacoTime began franchising in 1962 and continued to grow, laying the foundation to become one of the leading Mexican fast-food enterprises.

Currently, the brand has a total of 237 locations, 124 of those being international locations  and 113 US franchises . TacoTime is owned by Kahala Brands which purchased the franchise in 2003.

Taco Bueno

Taco Bueno is a quick-service restaurant chain headquartered in Farmers Branch, Texas, offering Tex-Mex cuisine. Taco Bueno offers tacos, burritos, combos, salads and beverages, among other American-Mexican specialty dishes.

Taco Bueno was founded by Bill R. Waugh in 1967 in Abilene, Texas and grew to open locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Taco Bueno has strived to grow in a saturated industry by competing with other Tex-Mex style brands and building a strong brand through premium flavors, excellent service with a family-friendly atmosphere. It is this difference that drives Taco Bueno’s growth and sets the franchises apart from the competition.

Taco Bueno is owned by TPG Growth, a division of the Fort Worth private equity firm TPG Capital after it purchased the brand from Palladium Equity Partners in 1981. The chain began franchising in 2004 and, as of 2017 has 182 locations, with 22 franchises in the US.

Quesada Burritos & Tacos

Quesada Burritos & Tacos is a fast-casual Mexican food restaurant based in Toronto, Ontario. The franchise offers a variety of Mexican foods, such as quesadillas, burritos, tacos, nachos, sides and a wide variety of salads. In addition, it offers catering services and a kid’s menu.

Quesada Burritos & Tacos was founded in Toronto, Ontario, by Steve Gill in 2003 and has grown to become a leading brand in the industry. Powered by intriguing, Mexican-inspired flavors, a diverse workforce and friendly and positively energized staff, Quesada Burritos & Tacos continues to attract franchise partnerships in spreading “The Joy of Mex” across the country, with almost 50% of the franchisees opening multiple restaurants.

Quesada Burritos & Tacos began franchising in 2010 and today it has 172 locations in the country and is seeking to open more locations worldwide.

Chronic Tacos Mexican Grill

Chronic Tacos Mexican Grill is a chain of fast-casual restaurants based in Aliso Viejo, California, specializing in a Mexican menu of tacos, burritos, bowls, quesadillas, chronic fries, sides, kid’s combos, drinks and protein options.

Chronic Tacos Mexican Grill was founded in 2002 by Randy Wyner and Daniel Biello in Newport Beach, California. The founders were inspired and determined to succeed in a location that was already flooded with lots of Mexican taqueria shops by offering authentic Mexican dishes and being inspired by their Southern Californian roots.

Driven by 3rd generation recipes, a laid-back experience with an irresistible edge combined with  personal and friendly service, Chronic Tacos was born.

By 2020 it had over 60 locations across the country. The chain began franchising in 2007 and currently has 6 international locations, 7 company-owned locations, and 36 franchises in the US.

California Tortilla

California Tortilla, also popularly called Cal Tort, is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant franchise headquartered in Potomac, Maryland, that serves “California-style” Mexican food.

The brand’s menu features burritos, nachos, street tacos, quesadillas and fajitas, plus it also offers catering.

California Tortilla was founded by Pam Felix and Alan Cohen in 1995, with its first location in Bethesda, Maryland.

The brand boasts of its quality and unique concept by being different from other Mexican concepts: From a typical restaurant design of 2,500 square feet (230 m2) with seating for 75 people, to its chef-inspired creations that fuse together traditional Mexican cuisine with unexpected, bold flavors from around the world and by celebrating their grand opening with a $5 burrito or bowl day whereby proceeds are donated to a local charity.

California Tortilla began franchising in 2003 and currently has over 30 franchises in the US.

Pancheros Mexican Grill

Pancheros Mexican Grill is a fast-casual Tex-Mex restaurant chain based in Coralville, Iowa. It offers Mexican-style cuisine such as homemade burrito bowls, fresh-pressed tacos, tortillas, quesadillas, queso, chips and salads.

Pancheros Mexican Grill was founded by Rodney Anderson in 1992, who opened two units: one in East Lansing, Michigan, next to Michigan State University and another in Iowa City, near the University of Iowa Campus.

Pancheros believes in simplicity; their menu, operations, in-store and digital experiences are designed to focus on simplicity. It is this laser-like focus on simplicity combined with fresh-pressed tortillas and an updated, more upscale restaurant décor that has continued to define Pancheros Mexican Grill’s journey from a humble beginning as a college favorite in Iowa City to one of the fastest-growing fast-casual Mexican restaurants in the United States.

Pancheros Mexican Grill, whose franchising journey began in 2004, has over 70 locations in 13 US states, with 45 being franchises.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos

Bubbakoo’s Burritos is a chain of burrito restaurants based in Wall Township, New Jersey.

It serves a variety of customized dishes such as burritos, taco bowls, tacos, quesadillas and nachos. In addition, Bubbakoo’s Burritos offers its signature dish, the Chiwowa, which is a panko-fried rice ball covered in nacho cheese and other toppings.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos was founded by Paul Altero and Bill Hart in 2008 in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Their mission was to develop a business that allowed them to create an ideal balance of flavor and freshness paired with fun and opportunity.

Today, Bubbakoo’s Burritos has become a unique business concept offering fresh, high-quality, affordable food to kids, families and seniors with a skater-shore atmosphere as it seeks to open more locations across the country.

Bubbakoo’s Burritos has been franchising since 2015 and currently has 86 locations in the US, 73 of which are franchised and 13 company-owned.

Taco Casa

Taco Casa is a Mexican quick-service restaurant concept based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Its menu includes a variety of tacos, burritos, nachos, combos and beverages.

Taco Casa was founded in 1972 by Rod Wilkin, with its first location in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and being the first unique restaurant in the location offering the finest and freshest ingredients. With its continued commitment, excellent customer service and mouthwatering food, Taco Casa has positioned itself as a staple in communities across West Alabama.

To grow its brand, the company seeks passionate and entrepreneurial business partners to join its franchise family in bringing its unique blend of Mexican cuisine to the rest of the states, including Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Today, Taco Casa’s Tex-Mex cuisine experience can be enjoyed in over 90 locations in the US, which are franchise owned after the chain recorded tremendous growth and started franchising in 1972.

Disclaimer: This content has been made for informational and educational purposes only. We do not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the information presented in the article. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other professional advice. Nothing contained in this article constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, advertisement, or offer to buy or sell any franchises, securities, or other financial instruments in this or in any other jurisdiction in which such solicitation or offer would be unlawful under the franchise and/or securities laws of such jurisdiction.

All content in this article is information of a general nature and does not address the detailed circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Nothing in the article constitutes professional and/or financial and/or legal advice, nor does any information in the article constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto. You alone assume the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information or other content in this article before making any decisions based on such information or other content.