You may assume that when a restaurant lists an ingredient as “beef” what you’ll be eating when you consume is 100% beef, and maybe some added salt and seasonings. The fact is, in many cases, that understandable assumption is wrong.

For example, Del Taco may post the ingredients in its classic crunchy beef taco, The Del Taco, as being “taco shell, seasoned beef, lettuce, cheddar cheese, [and] tomatoes,” but when you take a look at what’s actually in that “seasoned beef,” you’ll find this list: “Beef, water, textured vegetable protein (soy flour, caramel color), onions, seasoning (salt, chili pepper spices, tomato powder, garlic powder, hydrolyzed corn gluten, wheat protein, and soy protein, silicon dioxide, autolyzed yeast extract, sugar, citric acid, sodium diacetate, malic acid), oats, isolated oat product, [and] caramel color.”

That’s well over 20 ingredients in one component, and they go way beyond the bit of seasoning you’d expect. It’s the same story when you look under the proverbial hood at Taco Bell’s ingredients. And in the tacos at Jack in the Box. Others like Taco John’s don’t disclose all of their ingredients so you can’t be sure the tacos are 100% beef.

If you prefer the beef in your tacos (and burritos and quesadillas) to be 100% real beef, then stick with these taco-serving chains.

RELATED: 4 Fast-Food Tacos That Don’t Use 100% Pure Beef

Baja Fresh fajitasBaja Fresh fajitas
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill / Facebook

As you’d expect given the chain’s name, Baja Fresh is serious about fresh ingredients. The restaurant proudly proclaims that in its kitchens, there are “no microwaves, no freezers, no can openers” and that the food is “never processed, farm-fresh, [and] handmade.” The beef there, like all the other ingredients, to take the company at its word, is free of fillers and always fresh, never frozen. So enjoy a steak taco knowing you’re not eating a bunch of extra ingredients.

chipotle steak bowlchipotle steak bowl
Chipotle / Facebook

Chipotle may be a burrito chain first and perhaps a bowl chain second, but anyone who frequents the restaurant and never tries the tacos is making a major mistake.

That’s especially true with the two varieties of beef tacos you can get from Chipotle, which are steak and barbacoa. Both meats are free of additives and full of flavor; per the chain’s site: “Our steak and Barbacoa always start with Responsibly Raised beef…. [After sous vide cooking] we marinate it overnight in our smoky, spicy chipotle pepper adobo, and finish it on the grill (for steak) or add aromatic spices like oregano, cloves, and bay leaf, braise it slowly at a low temperature until it’s mouthwateringly tender, then shred it by hand (for Barbacoa).”

qdoba tacos steakqdoba tacos steak
QDOBA / Facebook

Much like Baja Fresh, Qdoba is not playing around when it comes to freshness and quality—indeed, the brand’s identity is wrapped up in offering top-quality ingredients, and that includes the 100% pure beef you’ll get there, which include shredded, slow-cooked brisket birria, grilled steak, and ground beef.

The beef and many other ingredients at the chain are covered by Qdoba’s Clean Label Pledge, which reads in part: “From chopping our fresh produce to grilling our chicken and steak, to preparing our rice, beans, and tortilla chips—preparation is done in-house and by hand, the way it’s meant to b … we continue to progress in our journey to having all of our ingredients be ‘clean.'”

El Pollo Loco beef tacosEl Pollo Loco beef tacos
El Pollo Loco / Facebook

El Pollo Loco may focus on high-quality chicken, but the limited number of beef menu items on offer there are made with pure beef, and beef that is brimming with flavor. Per a press release shared by the chain, for example, the beef birria used in the tacos, burritos, and quesadillas offered at El Pollo Loco is “a traditional stew made with a combination of meat and spices and is widely celebrated as one of the most famous dishes hailing from the Mexican state of Jalisco.”


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