A new study from the Pew Research Center shows that an incredible 99% of Americans live close to at least one Mexican restaurant, showing just how much this food has woven into American life. They used data from SafeGraph and Yelp to show the vast spread of Mexican places to eat all over the country.
- Approximately 11% of all U.S. restaurants serve Mexican food.
- Around 85% of U.S. counties boast at least one Mexican restaurant.
- California and Texas lead in the number of Mexican restaurants.
- Los Angeles County alone has over 5,000 Mexican eateries.
- The cuisine’s growth reflects the increasing influence of Mexican Americans in U.S. society.
The study, leveraging data up to March 23, 2023, found that of the 788,018 restaurants nationwide, over 80,000 offer Mexican cuisine. Significantly, 51% of these are located in California, Texas, Illinois, New York, and Florida. Notably, Mexican cuisine is disproportionately represented in Hispanic food offerings, despite Mexican origin people accounting for 60% of the U.S.’s Latinos.
Geographical Spread and Diversity
Mexican restaurants, widespread across the U.S., are particularly prevalent in the Southwest. California and Texas, with the largest Hispanic and Mexican-American populations, offer the most diversity. Specifically, Los Angeles County is a major hub with 5,484 Mexican food establishments. In Ochiltree County, Texas, an astonishing 42% of local food vendors sell Mexican cuisine. By state, New Mexico leads in terms of prevalence, with 22% of its restaurants serving Mexican food.
Price Accessibility and Authenticity
The accessibility of Mexican cuisine is not just geographic but also economic. Pew’s research highlights that 61% of Mexican restaurants are listed as affordable (one “dollar sign” on Yelp). The study didn’t delve into the authenticity of the food but categorized it based on tags like “Tex-Mex” and “tacos.”
The Cultural Significance
The expansion of Mexican restaurants in the U.S. is closely tied to the country’s cultural landscape. Aaron Smith from Pew Research Center notes, “Mexican cuisine really is ubiquitous across the American landscape. In many ways, Mexican food is American food, and vice versa.” This reflects the growing influence of Mexican Americans and the effects of migration from Mexico over the last 30 years.
Mexican Americans are the biggest Hispanic group in the US, with around 37.2 million folks. They makeup 11% of all Americans and might soon outdo the Black American population within ten years. This change in numbers helps explain why Mexican food has become so common and into American culture.
Mexican food is taking over in the U.S., proving that Americans are getting more adventurous with their taste buds and that the country’s melting pot of cultures is getting zestier. Everywhere you look, from your local taco joint to fancy dining spots, Mexican dishes are a big deal, showing how different worlds come together to spice up what we eat.
As time goes on, U.S. restaurants are likely to keep bringing in more Mexican flavors and traditions. We’ll see American eating habits change even more because of this.
But hey, Mexican food popping up all over America isn’t just about the stats. It’s a story of cultural mash-ups, traditions mixing, and cooking up something uniquely American. This whole thing shows how the U.S. is a place where different backgrounds blend into one big, colorful community.
To wrap things up, the research from the Pew Research Center isn’t just throwing numbers at us; it’s giving us a peek at how America is shifting. You can find Mexican cuisine all over the country, and that tells us a lot about how America is made up today and how welcoming it is to various cultures. Plus, it shows everyone loves trying out new and interesting foods. As Mexican cuisine gets even more popular and easy to find, it reminds us that America thrives on diversity, and its culture is always changing, thanks to all the folks who live here. Learn more about America’s love for Mexican Cuisine here.