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
See how each city fared in our ranking:
|OVERALL RANK||City||Overall Score||Access Rank||Quality Rank||Popularity Rank|
|2||Round Rock, TX||47.68||18||7||8|
|4||San Antonio, TX||44.89||19||2||43|
|6||Cedar Park, TX||43.75||13||6||30|
|7||San Marcos, TX||43.00||11||20||11|
|10||Grand Prairie, TX||38.59||85||34||1|
|11||College Station, TX||38.57||37||17||17|
|12||The Woodlands, TX||38.28||20||17||23|
|18||Fort Worth, TX||35.90||46||14||41|
|27||El Paso, TX||30.86||50||46||6|
|36||Flower Mound, TX||26.14||42||28||67|
|43||Wichita Falls, TX||23.72||49||33||62|
|44||Sugar Land, TX||23.70||41||50||32|
|45||San Angelo, TX||23.51||45||35||50|
|50||New Braunfels, TX||22.19||2||69||48|
|52||Corpus Christi, TX||22.02||28||96||3|
|55||North Richland Hills, TX||21.10||71||38||67|
|57||Cedar Hill, TX||20.59||83||61||25|
|61||Haltom City, TX||19.87||90||40||67|
|62||Little Elm, TX||19.46||72||45||67|
|63||League City, TX||19.07||24||69||34|
|66||San Juan, TX||18.42||88||74||19|
|72||The Colony, TX||16.49||54||61||67|
|74||Missouri City, TX||16.16||64||65||53|
|77||Farmers Branch, TX||14.96||78||64||67|
|80||Port Arthur, TX||13.84||93||71||46|
|85||Mission Bend, TX||10.17||96||84||51|
|88||Deer Park, TX||9.89||96||85||53|
|94||La Porte, TX||8.00||75||92||53|
|96||Del Rio, TX||6.84||7||100||93|
|97||Texas City, TX||6.82||73||94||53|
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
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.
|Metric||Weighting||Min. Value||Max. Value||Best|
|Establishments Serving Tacos per 1,000 Residents||2||0.00||0.60||Max. Value|
|Median Consumer Rating for Establishments Serving Tacos||3||0.90||5.00||Max. Value|
|Total Points for Austin Regional 2019 National Taco Championships Awards||4||0.00||47.00||Max. Value|
|Google Search Interest for Taco-Related Terms Over Past 12 Months||2||22.58||78.18||Max. Value|
|Taco Festivals per 1,000 Residents||1||0.00||0.70||Max. 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?
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