CHD Expert Releases New Data Finding That Mexican Restaurants Flourish in Chicago, representing 9% of the city’s Restaurant Market

24 Apr

Leading foodservice data and analytics company CHD Expert, evaluates the status of the Mexican restaurant industry in their hometown of Chicago, Illinois, and draws comparisons between the Mexican restaurant scene in Chicago and some of the nation’s largest cities.

Despite being about 1,500 miles from the nearest U.S. Mexico border crossing, residents of Chicago don’t have to travel far for an authentic burrito, as some of the best Mexican food in the nation can be found in Chicago. As reported in CHD Expert’s 2012 U.S. Foodservice Operator Update, the Mexican menu type had a net increase of 4.7 percent and was the second largest growing menu type in the U.S. With the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show just one month away, Chicago-based foodservice data and analytics firm, CHD Expert, reports on the Mexican restaurant industry landscape in their home town and NRA Show host city, Chicago, Illinois.

According to CHD Expert’s Foodservice Database,CHD FIND® (Foodservice Industry National Database), Mexican restaurants represent 9 percent of the total restaurants in the city of Chicago with over 600 options to choose from. Chicago has the 4th largest number of Mexican restaurants of any city in the country. Although New York City is the leading restaurant city in the country, they have 40 percent less Mexican restaurants (375), making up only 4.2 percent of the city’s total restaurant landscape.

Houston Texas has more Mexican restaurants than any other city in the United States, followed by San Antonio and Los Angeles respectively, and these border towns understandably have a strong Mexican influence on the local cuisine. According to the 2010 US Census Data, Hispanic’s represent 14 percent of the total US population; with Houston having a Hispanic population of 31 percent, San Antonio 37 percent and Los Angeles 34 percent. Further down the list of U.S. cities with high Hispanic populations are Chicago at 23 percent and New York at 21 percent.

The Mexican menu type is the most popular ‘Latin’ menu type in Chicago, with more Mexican restaurants than all other Latin menu type restaurants combined. Other Latin restaurant types consist of Brazilian, Caribbean and other South and Central American cuisine types.

Further breaking down the numbers, 61.7 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants are considered Full Service Restaurants. Full Service Restaurants have a wait staff with table service, and restaurants that fall into this category include: Family Style Dining, Casual Dining, and Upscale/Fine Dining establishments. In New York City, 69.4 percent of Mexican restaurants fall into the Full Service segment. Contrarily, 38.3 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants are considered Limited Service Restaurants whereas in New York, 30.6 percent of Mexican restaurants are considered Limited Service. Limited Service Restaurants do not offer a wait staff and are made up Quick Service, Quick Casual and Delivery/Take Away.

While a plate of tacos in Chicago might be a bit more expensive than what you’d pay in Tijuana, Mexican food in Chicago is still a relatively affordable option. In Chicago, 69.7 percent of Mexican restaurants yield an average check that is less than $15. In New York City by comparison, 60 percent of Mexican restaurants have less than a $15 average check. This is due to the fact that there are a higher percentage of full service restaurants in New York which drives the average check higher. Another contributing factor is that in general New York is more expensive than Chicago. In New York City 11.7 percent of Mexican restaurants’ average checks fall into the $30-50 range, whereas in Chicago it’s only 5.8 percent.

And while affordable food is normally associated with large fast food chains, CHD Expert’s data suggests that this is not the case in Chicago. 86.9 percent of the Mexican restaurants are independently owned and fall into the Mom and Pop category, whereas big chains, which consist of companies with over 500 restaurants in operation nationwide like Taco Bell, only represent 8.2 percent of Chicago’s Mexican restaurants. By comparison, large chains in New York City represent more than 14 percent of the local Mexican restaurants.

“For those of us who live in Chicago it is not a surprise to see that Mexican Food has such a strong presence in the city” stated Alex Hernandez, Account Manager at CHD Expert North America. “Chicago is a multicultural city with a strong Latin authority and diverse culture. Famous chefs like Rick Bayless and Manuel Bañuelos, have made Chicago a top destination for Mexican food in the United States, and when you come to the city and taste these bold flavors you will certainly associate Mexican food with Chicago.”

To obtain a complete breakdown on the United States Mexican restaurant landscape, or to schedule a time to meet in Chicago during the 2013 National Restaurant Association Show please contact Brad Bloom bbloom@chd-expert.com.

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