Advertisement

Pew study: Mexican food is ubiquitous in America

By Dana Forsythe
Osiris Hoil (L) is the CEO and co-founder of District Taco, which operates restaurants in several states. More than 1 in 10 restaurants in the United States serve Mexican food, according to a new study from Pew Research. Photo courtesy of District Taco/Instagram
1 of 2 | Osiris Hoil (L) is the CEO and co-founder of District Taco, which operates restaurants in several states. More than 1 in 10 restaurants in the United States serve Mexican food, according to a new study from Pew Research. Photo courtesy of District Taco/Instagram

Jan. 12 (UPI) -- More than 1 in 10 restaurants in the United States serve Mexican food, according to a new study from Pew Research. The analysis found 85% of U.S. counties have at least one Mexican restaurant, with 99% of Americans living near one.

The 15% of counties without any Mexican restaurants have about 4 million people, approximately 1% of the population, living in them, the Pew Research said.

Advertisement

Mexican restaurants are most common in California and Texas, which are home to a majority of the country's Mexican-American population, some 37 million people as of 2021.

According to a 2021 Pew study, the Mexican-American population is concentrated in California (34%), Texas (26%), Arizona (5%), Illinois (5%) and Colorado (2%).

Tacos were imported to the United States from migrants who moved from Mexico to Los Angeles in the early 1900s.

Osiris Hoil was 18 years old when he moved to the United States from Mexico, opening up a Yucatan-inspired food cart in Rosslyn, Va. Now, as the CEO and co-founder of District Taco, he oversees multiple restaurants across Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Hoil said his secret to success has been ensuring the menu reflects the flavors and traditions of the Yucatán region, from roasting chiles and tomatoes on-site to incorporating spices native from his homeland.

Advertisement

Mexican restaurants make up an especially large share of all restaurants in southwestern states that border Mexico, as they account for 22% of all restaurants in New Mexico, 20% in Texas, 18% in Arizona and 17% in California.

Los Angeles County alone is home to 30% of the state's Mexican restaurants. In Texas, 17% of the state's Mexican restaurants are in Harris County, which includes Houston; 9% each are in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, and in Dallas County, the study found.

About 22% of Mexican eateries nationwide are considered "fast food" restaurants, 12% specialize in serving tacos, 8% are classified as food trucks or carts and 6% offer "Tex-Mex" food.

Many of these restaurants are also modestly priced. A little over 60% of Mexican restaurants are rated as one "dollar sign" on Yelp's four-point pricing scale. Just 251 of total, representing 1%, have a rating of three or four dollar signs on the Yelp scale, with many in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Latest Headlines