The biggest Mexican restaurant chain in the world is Taco Bell. Taco Bell is an American fast food restaurant chain that specializes in Mexican-inspired foods like tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more. As of 2023, Taco Bell has over 7,000 restaurants across 30 countries. In terms of sales, Taco Bell brings in over $11 billion annually, making it the most successful Mexican restaurant chain globally.
The biggest Mexican restaurant chain is Taco Bell with over 7,000 locations globally and $11 billion in annual sales.
More About Taco Bell
Taco Bell was founded in 1962 by Glen Bell in Downey, California. Glen Bell had previously owned and operated a number of other restaurants including a hot dog stand called Bell’s Drive-In and a burger joint called Taco Tia. After seeing the popularity of taco shops in San Bernardino, Bell decided to open his own taco restaurant and called it Taco Bell.
The first Taco Bell opened in 1962 and sold tacos for just 19 cents each. The restaurant concept proved successful and began to expand across California and the rest of the United States. In 1978, PepsiCo purchased Taco Bell and helped accelerate the chain’s growth. By the 1990s, there were hundreds of Taco Bells across the country serving tacos, burritos, and other Mexican favorites to millions of customers.
Today, Taco Bell is a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, along with KFC and Pizza Hut. It has over 7,000 restaurant locations globally across 30 countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, India, Spain, Poland, Thailand, and others. Popular menu items include tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, chalupas, gorditas, and various value menu items. Taco Bell is best known for inventing the taco supreme in the 1960s and the Doritos Locos Taco in 2012.
Taco Bell’s Sales and Revenue
As the largest Mexican fast food chain, Taco Bell brings in tremendous sales and revenue each year. In 2022, Taco Bell generated $11.2 billion in global system sales. This makes Taco Bell the 6th highest grossing fast food restaurant chain worldwide, behind only McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, Burger King, and Wendy’s.
In terms of number of stores, Taco Bell has over 7,000 restaurant locations. For comparison, top rivals Chipotle and Del Taco have just over 3,000 locations each. Other Mexican chains like Moe’s Southwest Grill and Qdoba have fewer than 1,000 each. This huge amount of locations contributes to Taco Bell’s industry leading sales.
Taco Bell has maintained steady growth, even during recessions and the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2020 to 2021, Taco Bell saw their sales increase by 5% and added nearly 200 new restaurant locations globally. Drive-thru and digitalordering services have become increasingly important, now accounting for over 50% of Taco Bell’s sales.
Taco Bell Sales and Revenue Highlights:
- $11.2 billion in global system sales (2022)
- 7,000+ restaurant locations globally
- Over 50% of sales come from drive-thru and digital orders
- Sales grew 5% from 2020 to 2021 despite COVID-19 pandemic
- 6th highest grossing fast food chain worldwide
Taco Bell’s Menu and Food
Taco Bell’s menu consists primarily of Mexican-inspired foods tailored to American tastes. Core menu items include tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, chalupas, gorditas, and various value menu items. While not authentic Mexican food, Taco Bell offers cheap, quick, and tasty Tex-Mex style options.
Some of Taco Bell’s most popular menu items include:
- Crunchy Taco – A hard fried corn shell taco filled with ground beef, lettuce, and cheese.
- Soft Taco – A soft flour tortilla taco filled with meat, lettuce, and cheese.
- Burrito – A flour tortilla wrapped around rice, beans, meat, cheese, and more.
- Quesadilla – A grilled or fried flour tortilla with cheese and other fillings.
- Nachos – Tortilla chips topped with meat, beans, cheese, pico de gallo, and more.
- Chalupa – A fried flatbread shell taco with meat, lettuce, cheese, and more.
In addition to traditional Mexican favorites, Taco Bell is known for inventing unique mashup foods like the Doritos Locos Taco, which swaps a hard taco shell for a Nacho Cheese Doritos shell. Taco Bell frequently rolls out limited time offerings and tests wacky new menu creations.
Taco Bell Food Facts:
- Specializes in Mexican-inspired Tex-Mex food
- Known for value menu and dollar items
- Famous for inventing the Taco Supreme and Doritos Locos Taco
- Menu includes tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more
- Rolls out frequent limited-time food offerings
Taco Bell’s Competition
Despite being the largest Mexican chain, Taco Bell faces stiff competition from other restaurants. Major competitors include:
- Chipotle – The second largest Mexican chain behind Taco Bell with over 3,000 locations. Focuses on fast-casual style burritos and bowls made with higher-quality ingredients.
- Del Taco – Another major Mexican chain with over 600 locations. Similar food to Taco Bell but positions itself as higher quality.
- Moe’s Southwest Grill – A fast-casual Tex-Mex chain with around 700 locations. Known for burritos, bowls, quesadillas and salsa bar.
- Qdoba – Owned by Jack in the Box. Has around 750 locations serving Mexican foods like burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos.
- Salsarita’s – A smaller chain of around 100 locations in the South and Midwest. Features burritos, tacos, quesadillas and nachos.
While competitors try to offer higher quality ingredients, new menu items, or unique restaurant experiences, Taco Bell maintains its leadership through continued innovation, value pricing, and massive scale and distribution.
How Taco Bell Stays On Top of Competition:
- Continues rolling out new food offerings and marketing campaigns
- Emphasizes value with dollar menus and affordable pricing
- Has over twice as many locations as its closest competitor
- Convenience and familiarity of an established brand
- Huge scale gives supply chain and cost advantages
Taco Bell’s Marketing
Taco Bell utilizes various promotional strategies and marketing campaigns to attract customers and stay top of mind. Some highlights of Taco Bell’s marketing include:
- Innovative Product Launches – Taco Bell regularly rolls out limited-time food offerings such as Nacho Fries or the Naked Chicken Chalupa to spark interest.
- Value Menu – Dollar Cravings Menu with $1 deals encourages affordable snacking and impulse purchases.
- Partnerships – Collaborations with brands like Doritos, Mountain Dew, and movie studios create buzz.
- Athlete Endorsements – Using athletes like NBA player DeAndre Jordan in ads targets younger demographics.
- Social Media – Viral stunts on platforms like TikTok engage younger audiences.
- Late Night Hours – Operating late night drive-thrus targets younger crowds.
These strategies have successfully maintained Taco Bell’s relevance and reputation as an innovative, affordable, and trendy brand. The company has proven adept at utilizing new technologies and understanding shifting consumer tastes.
Key Aspects of Taco Bell’s Marketing Strategy:
- Value pricing and dollar menus
- Novel product launches and LTOs
- Partnerships with recognizable brands
- Athlete and celebrity endorsements
- Strong social media presence
- Late night hours targeting younger demographics
Why Taco Bell is So Successful
There are several key factors that explain Taco Bell’s dominance as the largest Mexican restaurant chain:
Taco Bell has built up enormous brand name recognition and awareness over 60 years in operation. Customers know they can rely on Taco Bell for inexpensive Mexican favorites. The brand is instantly recognizable worldwide.
Taco Bell offers some of the most affordable menu items in the fast food industry. Dollar Cravings Menu items and frequent discounts keep customers coming back for the value.
With over 7,000 global locations and drive-thrus open late, Taco Bell offers incredible convenience for customers wanting a quick Mexican meal on-the-go.
Taco Bell is constantly rolling out new menu items, limited time offers, and wacky food mashups like the Doritos Locos Taco. This innovation keeps the brand feeling fresh and exciting.
From athlete endorsements to social media virality to partnerships with brands like Mountain Dew, Taco Bell’s marketing is consistently on-point with younger demographics.
Established Supply Chain
With Yum! Brandsbehind it, Taco Bell has an established supply chain that provides cost and inventory advantages over smaller chains.
Taco Bell has secured its position as the world’s largest and most successful Mexican restaurant chain through great marketing, value pricing, product innovation, and leveraging its industry-leading scale and distribution. Competitors like Chipotle and Del Taco will continue nipping at Taco Bell’s heels. But with its entrenched brand awareness and loyalty, Taco Bell remains the undisputed king of Mexican fast food chains for the foreseeable future.