2021’s Best Texas Cities for Tacos

Closeup of man reaching for taco outside in summer

Taco ’bout the perfect finger food. Not only are tacos cheap and tasty, but they also come in countless combinations — especially in Texas, where locals are simply “tacobsessed.”

But where among the Lone Star State’s 100 biggest cities can you find top tacos?

LawnStarter crunched the numbers to unwrap 2021’s Best Texas Cities for Tacos in time for National Taco Day, Oct. 4.

We looked for cities with wide access to taquerias, National Taco Championships awards, high consumer ratings, and taco festivals. We even considered Google search volumes for “tacos” to gauge local taco love.

Check out the most spec-taco-lar Texas cities in our ranking below, followed by key tacoways.

Table of Contents

  1. City Rankings
  2. Key Tacoways
  3. Tacos By the Numbers
  4. Methodology
  5. Tacos for Dinner, Breakfast, and Dessert

City Rankings 

See how each city fared in our ranking:

OVERALL RANKCityOverall ScoreAccess RankQuality RankPopularity Rank
1Austin, TX76.25612
2Round Rock, TX47.681878
3Dallas, TX45.4731109
4San Antonio, TX44.8919243
5Houston, TX44.7156127
6Cedar Park, TX43.7513630
7San Marcos, TX43.00112011
8Amarillo, TX40.9643438
9Plano, TX39.5023935
10Grand Prairie, TX38.5985341
11College Station, TX38.57371717
12The Woodlands, TX38.28201723
13Denton, TX37.7826584
14Arlington, TX37.61551527
15Lubbock, TX36.78671624
16Abilene, TX36.0947390
17Texarkana, TX36.01102193
18Fort Worth, TX35.90461441
19Odessa, TX35.8286844
20Irving, TX35.29661927
21Galveston, TX35.1514953
22Richardson, TX34.33252427
23Allen, TX33.37341188
24Frisco, TX32.80331388
25Conroe, TX32.27442720
26Spring, TX31.9742653
27El Paso, TX30.8650466
28Mansfield, TX30.68302542
29Waco, TX30.29123036
30Euless, TX29.42702267
31Tyler, TX29.2782393
32Pflugerville, TX28.56295211
33Grapevine, TX27.9533967
34Atascocita, TX27.45963516
35Waxahachie, TX27.1795221
36Flower Mound, TX26.14422867
36Schertz, TX26.14213148
38Keller, TX25.54143167
39Duncanville, TX25.2679754
40Leander, TX25.02762866
41Burleson, TX24.3454267
42McAllen, TX24.08605818
43Wichita Falls, TX23.72493362
44Sugar Land, TX23.70415032
45San Angelo, TX23.51453550
46Georgetown, TX23.05163787
47Mesquite, TX22.65775125
48Rockwall, TX22.51174663
49Garland, TX22.39805921
50New Braunfels, TX22.1926948
51Pasadena, TX22.1489815
52Corpus Christi, TX22.0228963
53Hurst, TX21.63274367
54Kyle, TX21.39527611
55North Richland Hills, TX21.10713867
56Coppell, TX21.07224667
57Cedar Hill, TX20.59836125
58Wylie, TX19.90744167
58Bedford, TX19.90614467
60Carrollton, TX19.88625245
61Haltom City, TX19.87904067
62Little Elm, TX19.46724567
63League City, TX19.07246934
64Lewisville, TX18.72515752
65Brownsville, TX18.61688814
66San Juan, TX18.42887419
67Friendswood, TX18.19356153
68Rosenberg, TX18.09626733
69Pharr, TX18.04958714
70McKinney, TX17.25575683
71Killeen, TX16.78877331
72The Colony, TX16.49546167
73Rowlett, TX16.43945267
74Missouri City, TX16.16646553
75Pearland, TX16.12389710
76Channelview, TX15.86966053
77Farmers Branch, TX14.96786467
78Bryan, TX14.33326693
79Baytown, TX14.28846853
80Port Arthur, TX13.84937146
81Sherman, TX13.27157685
82DeSoto, TX12.84928239
83Beaumont, TX12.75538346
84Victoria, TX11.10407292
85Mission Bend, TX10.17968451
86Longview, TX10.15587693
87Lufkin, TX10.12597693
88Deer Park, TX9.89968553
89Mission, TX9.81818665
90Laredo, TX9.62829337
91Temple, TX9.43658093
92Weslaco, TX9.01369940
93Harlingen, TX8.97399164
94La Porte, TX8.00759253
95Lancaster, TX6.97969067
96Del Rio, TX6.84710093
97Texas City, TX6.82739453
98Midland, TX6.35698991
99Edinburg, TX3.81919486
100Huntsville, TX3.09489793
Infographic showing the best Texas cities for tacos, a ranking based on taco access, taco competition awards, consumer ratings, and taco festivals
Note: A total of 100 cities were ranked in this study. Due to a significant number of ties, however, the lowest-ranking position for some metrics may not be 100.

Key Tacoways

Austin: The Texas Taco Capital

The city keepin’ it weird reigns taco supreme as our No. 1 Best Texas City for Tacos. What gives the city its crunchy edge over the competition? It’s all about quality and quantity here, where demand is piled high (the city finished second in Popularity). 

Austin happens to host one of the regional National Taco Championships, and at the latest competition in 2019, the city’s top taco artists showed up and cleaned up. Austin’s taco-serving restaurants not only earned the highest honors at the competition but also more awards than any other Texas city.

Do Austin residents agree? Sí, señoras y señores. The birthplace of the legendary Torchy’s Tacos boasts the fifth-highest median consumer rating for its numerous taco spots — Austin ranked No. 6 overall for Access.

Go Big or Go — Smaller?

Density tends to equate with demand and supply, and, for the most part, that bears out in our data: Texas’ four biggest cities are among our top five. After Austin at No. 1, Dallas lands at No. 3, San Antonio at No. 4, and Houston finishes in fifth place. 

Amarillo (No. 8), Plano (No. 9), and Grand Prairie (No. 10) are also up there. These cities are all home to some iconic or trendy taco chains, such as Fuel City Tacos, based in Dallas, Velvet Taco, headquartered in Plano, and Taco Cabana which hails from San Antonio, la casa del puffy taco.

That makes Round Rock’s No. 2, Cedar Park’s No. 6, and San Marcos’ No. 7 showing all the more impressive. The first two of these smaller cities are Austin suburbs that earn top marks in Quality overall, while San Marcos rides high on its National Taco Championships accolades.

Keep Hunting in Huntsville

Here’s another reason the Execution Capital of the World might deserve its nickname: Huntsville came in dead last in our ranking of Best Taco Cities in Texas. In other words, you’d be hard-pressed to find the Lone Star State’s best tacos here — unless they’re locked up. (Huntsville’s other, not-so-endearing nickname happens to be Prison City.)

But let’s break the prison bars results down. First of all, Google Trends data for the city is near nada, a telling sign of super-low demand for tacos.

It’s no surprise, then, that Huntsville performed poorly in nearly every metric. The city tied with Pearland at 97th place for consumer ratings and earned zero taco competition awards. Lucky for Huntsville’s residents, Houston (No. 5 overall) is just an hour’s drive away.

Tacos By the Numbers

Infographic showing taco stats
Sources: NationalTacoDay.com, TOP, CNBC, Smithsonian Magazine, National Day Calendar, Major League Eating, Major League Eating, Austin Chronicle, Guinness World Records, Guinness World Records, Taco Bell, The Huffington Post, Fast Food Menu Prices, Yum!, Twitter, Twitter, Twitter

Methodology

We ranked the 100 biggest Texas cities from best (No. 1) to worst (No. 100) based on their overall scores (out of 100 possible points), averaged across all the weighted metrics listed below.

MetricWeightingMin. ValueMax. ValueBest
Access
Establishments Serving Tacos per 1,000 Residents20.000.60Max. Value
Quality
Median Consumer Rating for Establishments Serving Tacos30.905.00Max. Value
Total Points for Austin Regional 2019 National Taco Championships Awards40.0047.00Max. Value
Popularity
Google Search Interest for Taco-Related Terms Over Past 12 Months222.5878.18Max. Value
Taco Festivals per 1,000 Residents10.000.70Max. Value

Sources: Google Trends, National Taco Championships, TripAdvisor, and Yelp

Tacos for Dinner, Breakfast, and Dessert

Taco Tuesdays? Why stop at one day a week! Tacos are cheap and good eats, whether they come from a taco truck, gas station, or taco bar at work (if you’re back working in an office).

And why stop at one meal? Many people start their day with breakfast tacos, and they’re on the menu at many Mexican restaurants all day, too. 

Maybe you want to finish your meal with dessert tacos?

This import from Mexico is almost as American as apple pie now — and growing international in its flavors. Have you tried Chi’Lantro or taco-dosas yet? 

And there are even healthier taco options. Shrimp and fish tacos tend to have less queso and more pico de gallo. Add a squeeze of lime and you’re all set. 

The only great debate is a taco version of that old boxers-or-briefs question: Flour or corn tortillas?

Finally, which beer pairs best with tacos? Well, that’s no doubt the topic of a future study, and we plan to do a lot of hands-on (and first-person) research on that.

Main Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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Staff Writer