What to Eat at Taco Bueno: Healthy Menu Choices and Nutrition Facts

Hard taco sitting on a table
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Taco Bueno is a popular fast food restaurant located in the southern United States. Its menu features traditional Tex-Mex-style tacos, burritos, and nachos. The chain opened in Texas in 1967 and has over 160 locations in Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Colorado, Alabama, and Texas.

As with other fast-food restaurants that specialize in Mexican-inspired cuisine, the bulk of Taco Bueno’s menu features seasoned meat, corn and flour tortillas, cheese blends, and classic sides and toppings such as jalapenos, guacamole, and salsa.

Like the menu of its main competitors, such as Del Taco and Taco Bell, many of Taco Bueno’s offerings are high in calories, sodium, and carbohydrates. Many of the menu items also contain trans fats, of which the American Heart Association recommends you eat no more than 2g per day. However, understanding how the items on the menu are prepared, what ingredients are used, and what your options for customization are, it is possible to make choices that align with your specific dietary needs and preferences.

What Experts Say

"Other than salads and burrito bowls, choices at Taco Bueno don't offer many vegetables and most are very high in sodium. If you’re eating here on a regular basis, try to customize your meal to include veggies, or choose a side of beans to add fiber and protein to any meals that lack these nutrients."

Willow Jarosh, MS, RD

Navigating the Menu

Here’s a breakdown of the nutrition content of Taco Bueno’s menu. You can also use the information provided on the chain’s website to learn more about the ingredients used, preparation methods, and information related to food allergies.

Most Nutritious Options
  • Original crispy taco with chicken (Tacos)

  • Potato burrito with chicken (Burritos)

  • Party nachos (Nachos)

  • Party quesadilla (Quesadillas)

  • Nacho salad with chicken (Salads)

  • Mexican rice (Sides)

  • Cinnamon churros (Sweets)

  • Unsweet tea (Beverages)

Least Nutritious Options
  • The Muchaco (Tacos)

  • Bueno burrito with beef (Burritos)

  • Mucho nachos with beef (Nachos)

  • Beef quesadilla (Quesadillas)

  • Big Freakin' taco salad with beef (Salads)

  • Party beans (Sides)

  • Cheesecake chimichangas (Sweets)

  • Fanta Orange (Beverages)

Tacos

Soft or hard shell flour and corn tortilla tacos are a staple of Mexican-inspired cuisine. Taco Bueno’s menu offers mostly traditional takes on the classic, but you can also customize according to your tastes and dietary needs.

Taco Bueno's tacos vary in their nutritional value from 143 calories per taco to over 500 calories. In general, when choosing between chicken and beef, the most nutritious option will be the chicken, which is often lower in calories and fat while being higher in protein. Taco Bueno's beef option also typically comes with about 1g trans fat while the chicken has none.

Unless you’ll be sharing the meal, avoid the taco, burrito, and nacho combo meals and platters. Most are well over 1,000 calories and high in fat and sodium.

Most Nutritious Option

Of the tacos on the regular menu, the original crispy taco with chicken is the more nutritious option with 143 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 10g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, 12g protein, 280mg sodium per taco.

If you're in the mood for tacos but in the mood for beef, check out the "Bueno Under a Buck" section of the menu where you'll find the Party Taco, a smaller version of the original crispy beef taco made with taco meat, lettuce, grated cheddar cheese, and tomatoes. At 130 calories, 8.2g total fat, 3.4g saturated fat, 0.3g trans fat, 7.7g carbohydrate, 0.8g sugar, 5.8g protein, and 241.2g sugar, it's the most nutritious beef taco on the menu.

Least Nutritious Option

The Muchaco with beef comes in at 530 calories, 32.2g total fat, 11.7g saturated fat, 0.7g trans fat, 48.5g carbohydrate, 3.7g sugar, 18.5g protein, 967.1mg sodium.

Burritos

The burritos at Taco Bueno are customizable but use mostly traditional ingredients such as beef and chicken, refried beans, shredded cheese, Mexican spices, and chili. You can also get sides of guacamole, extra veggies, or sour cream.

The burrito options range from 290 calories per burrito to 660 calories and vary greatly in their nutritional value based on the fillings.

Most Nutritious Option

The potato burrito with chicken offers 290 calories, 12.6g total fat, 5.4g saturated fat, 0.1g trans fat, 31.1g carbohydrate, 1.5g sugar, 11.7g protein, and 674.1mg sodium.

Another burrito-like option is from the "Bueno Under a Buck" section, which offers a grilled taco rollup. With chicken, it provides 160 calories, 5.9g total fat, 2.3g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 16.5g carbohydrate, 0.8g sugar, 10.5g protein, and 458mg sodium. For added protein, a side of black beans is only 90 calories.

Least Nutritious Option

The Bueno burrito with beef comes in at 660 calories, 35.1g fat, 14g saturated fat, 0.9g trans fat, 70.1g carbohydrate, 2.1g sugar, 25g protein, and 1598.4mg sodium.

Nachos

From a standard size of crunchy corn tortilla chips to fully loaded nachos, Taco Bueno has all the standard nacho offerings as well as party-sized platters.

Most Nutritious Option

The Party nachos, which are technically on the "Bueno Under a Buck" section of the menu, come in at 230 calories, 14.6g fat, 5.7g saturated fat, 0.4g trans fat, 24.5g carbohydrate, 1.8g sugar, 7.3g protein, and 657.5g sodium.

Menu Tip

For a smaller, snack-sized portion, look to the Taco Bueno kid’s menu. Save over 100 calories by getting a regular order of chips without any dip. You can ask for a side of salsa (10 calories or less per serving) or make your own at home.

Least Nutritious Option

The Mucho Nachos with beef provide 930 calories, 60.5g fat, 24g saturated fat, 1.9g trans fat, 83.3g carbohydrate, 7.9g sugar, 36g protein, and 2748.8mg sodium.

Quesadillas

Cheesy quesadillas are another staple of Tex-Mex style fast food. Taco Bueno offers basic cheese, chicken, or beef quesadillas on its regular menu and smaller versions on the kid's menu. Overall, the options in this category aren't the most nutritious.

If you want to go the quesadilla route, try ordering one off the kid's menu. You can dress up a plain kid's cheese quesadilla with your own veggies or ask for a side order of black beans, which adds just 90 calories, 5g protein and filling fiber.

Most Nutritious Option

In the Bueno Under a Buck section of the menu, you'll find the party quesadilla, which is a smaller version of the classic full-size cheese quesadilla.

The party quesadilla comes in at 350 calories (less than half that of the full-size option), 20.8g fat, 11.6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 23.1g carbohydrate, 15.9g protein, ad 548.3mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The beef quesadilla provides 829 calories, 51g fat, 27g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 52g carbohydrate, 1g sugar, 40g protein, and 1527mg sodium.

Salads

Taco Bueno offers just two salads and they are higher in calories than some of the traditional Tex-Mex dishes. If you're looking for a more nutritious option, consider looking to other sections of the menu.

Most Nutritious Option

The nacho salad with chicken is the more nutritious option of the two salads on the menu, but it still comes in with 400 calories, 19.7g total fat, 8.4g saturated fat, 0.4g trans fat, 32.6g carbohydrate, 3.6g sugar, 22.3g protein, and 1058.9mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The Big Freakin’ taco salad with beef provides 980 calories, 68g total fat, 22g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 66g carbohydrate, 8g sugar, 29g protein, and 2158mg sodium.

Sides

You can select optional add-ons from Taco Bueno’s menu of sides, which includes refried beans, rice, queso, and guacamole. If you’re trying to be aware of serving sizes, or just want to have more control of portions, some of these sides can also be used as a base for a healthier meal.

Most Nutritious Option

A 3-ounce side of Mexican rice provides 220 calories, 3.3g fat, 0.6g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 40.7g carbohydrate, 1.4g sugar, 4.6g protein, and 549.3mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

The side of party beans is the refried bean option and comes in at 282 calories, 22g total fat, 9g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 26g carbohydrate, 2g sugar, 11g protein, and 772mg sodium.

Refried beans are classic comfort food in Mexican cuisine, but they can be very high in salt and are generally higher in fat than other bean-based sides.

Between the two dip sides, a side of guac might seem like the all-around healthier choice since it’s made with avocado, but it actually has more calories, carbs, and fat as well as less protein than the queso. However, if you’re watching your salt intake, you’ll want to avoid the queso which has nearly 800mg per serving.

Sweets

Sweet treats at Taco Bueno only account for a small section of the restaurant's menu but are inspired by simple, classic, tastes. Choose from cinnamon churros, cinnamon chips, and cheesecake chimichangas.

Most Nutritious Option

A 3-piece order of cinnamon churros provides 200 calories, 15.9g total fat, 4.3g saturated fat, 0.3g trans fat, 13.7g carbohydrate, 0.9g sugar, 1.2g protein, and 136mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

A 2-piece order of the cheesecake chimichangas, come in at 510 calories, 33.4g total fat, 14.3g saturated fat, 0.8g trans fat, 44g carbohydrate, 17g sugar, 7g protein, and 450mg sodium.

If you’re craving something sweet, Taco Bueno’s dessert options can all be ordered in smaller sizes. You can get a single chimichanga or a small order of churros. An order of cinnamon chips only comes in one size. Despite being a simpler dessert, the chips actually pack more calories, fat, and carbs than the smallest portions of the two other options.

Beverages

Taco Bueno offers a standard selection of Coke and Pepsi fountain drinks along with options like lemonade, and iced tea.

Most Nutritious Option

While water is always the healthiest choice, if you're looking for something with a little more flavor, selecting an unsweetened tea adds few, if any, calories to your meal. A 12-oz unsweet Tea offers 10 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbohydrate, 0g sugar, 0g protein, and 11mg sodium.

Least Nutritious Option

A 12-oz Fanta Orange provides 170 calories, 0g fat, 46g carbohydrate, 46g sugar, 0g protein, and 65mg sodium.

Up that to the largest size (40 oz) and you're in for 570 calories, 0g fat, 153g carbohydrate, 153g sugar, 0g protein, 217mg sodium.

But Fanta Orange isn't alone. In fact, it shares the same number of calories and grams of sugar as the juice bubblers: mango lime bubble, raspberry bubbler, and the lemonade bubbler.

Taco Bueno Sodium Statement

"Nutrition values for fountain beverages do not account for ice. Depending on the sodium content of the water where the beverage is dispensed, the actual sodium content may be higher or lower than the listed values."

Diet-Specific Options

If you have certain dietary needs and preferences, you can navigate Taco Bueno’s menu or ask for customizations to a certain extent. While some menu items can be changed, certain ingredients may not be alterable.

Taco Bueno offers some choices for low-carb and vegetarian diets but doesn’t have low-FODMAP, low-fat, vegan, or gluten-free menu items.

Taco Bueno Gluten-Free Statement

"Taco Bueno does not claim 'gluten-free' for any ingredients or menu items. There are Taco Bueno ingredients that are made without gluten-containing ingredients but are prepared in a common kitchen area, including common fryer oil, with the risk of gluten exposure; therefore, Taco Bueno does not recommend products for customers with certain diseases, including celiac disease. Customers with gluten sensitivities should exercise judgment when ordering products."

Low-Carb

  • Party taco (6.2g net carbs)
  • Original crispy beef taco (7.8g net carbs)
  • Unsweet tea (1g net carbs)
  • Queso (4.1g net carbs)
  • Original salsa (0.9g net carbs)

Diabetes-Friendly

  • Queso
  • Guacamole
  • Party taco
  • 7-Layer taco cup
  • Original crispy beef taco

Vegetarian

  • Black bean burrito
  • Cheese quesadilla
  • Mexican rice
  • Party tostada
  • Tortilla chips, guacamole, and salsa
  • Cinnamon chips

Food Allergy and Safety

Taco Bueno provides a chart on its website that indicates which menu items and individual ingredients contain or may have come in contact with the following allergens:

  • Milk
  • Gluten
  • Soy
  • Eggs
  • Tree Nuts
  • Peanuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

As is typically the case when dining out (or in any situation where you aren’t preparing food yourself), you can’t be completely certain a particular food item or ingredient is allergen-free. Cross-contamination of food allergens may occur during the production, transportation, storage, or preparation process.

Taco Bueno provides a disclaimer regarding allergen and ingredient information.

Taco Bueno Allergen Statement

"Peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish are not used in regular menu items served in Taco Bueno restaurants. However, these regular menu items may be produced in common manufacturing facilities that do produce products with peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. These allergens may be used in test and limited time only offerings in certain locations."

A Word From Verywell

Like many other fast-food Tex-Mex restaurants, the Taco Bueno menu is full of tacos, nachos, burritos and platter combos. With a fairly limited menu, you won’t have many low-calorie, low-fat, or low-carb options to choose from. However, as long as you keep an eye on your portions, it is possible to enjoy a meal at Taco Bueno that is in line with your dietary needs and goals.

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Article Sources
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  1. Taco Bueno Restaurants, L.P. Hoover’s Database.

  2. Nutrition, Allergen, & Ingredient Information. Taco Bueno.

  3. What you need to know about food allergens. US Food & Drug Administration. 2018.