Latin Fast Food Chains: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

When you live a rapid lifestyle, home-cooking isn't always available. Grabbing some on-the-go Latin fast food may seem like the perfect remedy, but do you really know what you're getting? We decided to help you out with a guide to the worst offenders and some healthier choices.

Pollo Tropical (Florida and New Jersey)
While the Tropichops and Fajita platters may look innocent, they are a surefire path to a bigger waistline. Choose a large Picadillo Tropichop, for instance, and you are getting a whopping 1280 calories, 51 grams of fat, 156 grams of carbs and 3920 milligrams of sodium. Add a side of fried yucca and you are eating the equivalent of 2 and a half Whoppers. Order a regular size and boiled yucca to cut everything in half, or opt for a quarter chicken without skin and a side of yellow rice with vegetables to save your waistline.

El Pollo Loco (West Coast)
Grilled chicken nachos might sound like a tasty appetizer until you hear what you're really getting: 1090 calories, 55 grams of fat, 99 grams of carbohydrates, and 3040 milligrams of sodium. Yikes! If you're still craving tortilla chips, go for a chicken tortilla soup at 210 calories and 18 carbs.
For a super healthy choice pick the skinless chicken breast with a side of pinto beans and fresh veggies, making sure to specify no margarine.

Taco Bell (Nationwide)
You may think ordering a salad is the healthiest choice you can make when it comes to fast food, but don't be fooled! If you order Taco Bell's Fiesta Taco Salad you'll be getting 840 calories, 45 grams of fat (11 grams saturated) and 80 grams of carbs. That's the equivalent of four crunchy taco supremes. Go for the Zesty Chicken Border Bowl instead for half the calories and 10 grams of heart-healthy fiber, or choose two soft tacos (they are all 100-180 calories).

Chipotle (Nationwide)
Chipotle is perhaps the most deceiving fast food chain since they tout themselves as a healthy, all-natural spot. Think this sounds healthy? A Grilled Chicken Burrito is 1,179 calories, 47 grams of fat, 125 grams of carbs, and 2,656 milligrams of sodium. Choose a bowl instead (no giant flour tortilla) and get your chicken with veggies (specify no rice, cheese, or sour cream).

-Gabriela Garcia

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About this author

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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