Taco place in Miami
Taco place in Miami Unsplash.com/Daniel Lee

Remember that infamous line claiming that without Donald Trump, there would be a taco truck on every corner in the U.S.? It turns out that this prophecy, voiced by Mexican-born Marco Gutierrez of Latinos for Trump in 2016, has come true.

According to a Pew Research Center study, the vast majority of the U.S. population is now exposed to a culinary offering that includes Mexican food and, of course, tacos.

This is not only business or love for a country's cuisine. Around 37.2 million people in the U.S. trace their ancestry to Mexico, a figure that represents over 15% of the country's population in 2023. That proportion is ever-evident in the influence of Mexican culture in all walks of life.

And while this is especially the case in states like California and Texas, which are home to the largest Mexican populations in the country, practically everyone in the U.S. is exposed to one key component of this culture: food.

According to Pew Research Center, about 11% of all restaurants in the United States offer Mexican food. Furthermore, 85% of counties have at least one Mexican restaurant, with the remaining 15% typically found in sparsely populated areas, representing only 1% of the country's total population.This translates to 99% of people in the U.S. residing in a county with at least one Mexican restaurant.

The study used data from SafeGraph, a tool that aggregates information about millions of places of interest worlwide, along with data from Yelp. The results predictably revealed a substantial concentration of these restaurants in California (22%) and Texas (17%).

Mexican restaurants in the U.S.
Where most Mexican restaurants are in the U.S. Pew Research Center

"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 located in Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, and in Dallas County," the study said.

Other locations boasting a significant proportion of Mexican restaurants are Florida, New York and Illinois, each accounting for 4% of locations nationwide. When combined with those in California and Texas, these regions encompass over half of all Mexican restaurants in the country.

The study also reveals the regions where Mexican restaurants constitute the largest share of the total. Texas leads in this category, claiming eight out of the top ten counties on the list. Ochiltree County tops the charts, with 42% of all restaurants serving Mexican food.

At a state level, 22% of all restaurants in New Mexico, 20% in Texas, 18% in Arizona and 17% in California enter this category.

Delving into the nature of the restaurants, the study found that "22% of Mexican restaurants nationwide are "fast food" restaurants, 12% specialize in serving tacos, 8% are classified as food trucks or carts, and 6% offer "Tex-Mex" food.

As for pricing, they tend to be affordable. "Among restaurants with pricing data, 61% of Mexican restaurants are rated as one "dollar sign" on Yelp's four-point pricing scale. Less than 1% of all Mexican restaurants nationwide – just 251 in total – have a rating of three or four dollar signs on the Yelp scale," Pew added.

Finally, the data reveals that an extremely small proportion of U.S. restaurants, specifically 2% of the total, serve Latino cuisine that is not Mexican. The most common varieties include Caribbean, Cuban, 'Latin American,' or Peruvian, but none of these represent more than 1% of the total.

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.