Photo: Chipotle, Qdoba, Taco Bell

There’s good news at Mexican-style chain restaurants: Some of the most popular—like Chipotle and even Taco Bell—are offering healthier options.

More on Fast Food

“Their meals can be built around nutritious ingredients, like beans, veggies, and corn tortillas,” says Amy Keating, RD, a CR nutritionist. “And at some, you can customize your order with tofu, plant-based meats, and whole grains.”

But be aware that even if you include nutritious ingredients, your meal can be a sodium bomb with 1,000 calories or more—which isn’t so good for you (most adults should consume only 1,800 to 2,600 calories and less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day).

For instance, a burrito at Chipotle—chicken, black beans, brown rice, fajita veggies, guacamole, and salsa in a flour tortilla—contains 1,115 calories and 2,380 mg of sodium. To help you choose Mexican meals more wisely, we reviewed the menus at three chains and selected healthier dishes you’ll still enjoy.

Chipotle
Paleo Salad Bowl
Veggie Burrito Bowl
Contains guacamole, cilantro-lime brown rice, fajita vegetables, black beans, romaine lettuce.
  • Calories: 595
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Sat. fat: 4.5 g
  • Carbs: 72 g
  • Fiber: 17 g
  • Protein: 15 g
  • Sodium: 920 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This plant-based option is high in protein and fiber, thanks to the black beans. Opt for brown rice over white because it’s a whole grain and is higher in fiber.
Paleo Salad Bowl (shown)
Contains guacamole, chicken, fajita veggies, tomatillo green-chili salsa, a mix of romaine lettuce, baby kale, and baby spinach.
  • Calories: 460
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Sat. fat: 6.5 g
  • Carbs: 20 g
  • Fiber: 20 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Sodium: 1, 105 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This bowl is the lowest-sodium choice of the chain’s “Lifestyle Bowls,” and it’s packed with fiber and vitamins A and C. Ask to go “light” on the salsa to cut an additional 130 mg of sodium.
Qdoba
3 Street Style Pulled Pork Corn Tacos
3 Street Style Pulled Pork Corn Tacos (shown)
Corn tortillas are a good-for-you whole grain and are lower in Calories: and sodium than flour tortillas. These tacos offer filling protein, but their size keeps calories in check.
  • Calories: 370
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Sat. fat: 5 g
  • Carbs: 41 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 26 g
  • Sodium: 960 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
Corn tortillas are a good-for-you whole grain and are lower in Calories: and sodium than flour tortillas. These tacos offer filling protein, but their size keeps calories in check.
Kid’s Meal: Quesadilla and a Side of Black Beans
Contains chicken, flour tortilla, cheese, beans.
  • Calories: 430
  • Fat: 15 g
  • Sat. fat: 7.5 g
  • Carbs: 50 g
  • Fiber: 16 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Sodium: 890 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This plant-based option is high in protein and fiber, thanks to the black beans. Opt for brown rice over white because it’s a whole grain and is higher in fiber.
Taco Bell
Power Bowl With Grilled Chicken
Power Bowl With Grilled Chicken (shown)
Contains grilled chicken, seasoned rice, reduced-fat sour cream, tomatoes, guacamole, black beans, lettuce, avocado ranch sauce, and cheese.
  • Calories: 320
  • Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbs: 27 g
  • Fiber: 7 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 1,000 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
This bowl is filling but low in calories. Ask to go “easy” on the cheese, sour cream, sauce, and rice to shave off calories, as well as some saturated fat and sodium.
2 Crunchy Chicken Tacos Supreme
Contains chicken, reduced fat sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and a crunchy corn tortilla.
  • Calories: 340
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 6 g
  • Carbs: 26 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Sodium: 660 mg
WHY WE LIKE IT
“Crunchy” equals fried, but in this case, it’s a better choice than the “Soft” version on a white flour tortilla, which has more sodium, even though the other ingredients are the same.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.