¡Say It Ain’t So, Rockford! ¿Taco Bell #1 Local “Mexican” Restaurant?

Things never die on the internet.  Just ask Rockford, Illinois. 

A friend (h/t Alex) emailed me the above picture of a Taco Bell billboard in Rockford.  It was a real billboard but the picture is six years old.  It’s back in the news because a blog posted the pic. [1]

Consulting the source, Kevin Haas of the Rockford Register Star, we find Taco Bell did win the 2006 Reader’s Choice Awards and Taco Bell really did thank the Forest City with the billboard. [2]  Six years may be a long time, but eternal punishment may the damnation meted out on the good people of Rockford for ever choosing Taco Bell as the top “Mexican” restaurant in the 350,000 resident metro area.

I’ll run next spring’s Rockford Marathon so I’ll hunt for better Mexican food and let you know.  Ironically, the next marathon on my agenda after Rockford is Ciudad Mexico, where I will certainly do better than TB.

Highlights from the recent Register Star article follow: 

Six years ago readers picked Taco Bell as their favorite Mexican restaurant in the Rock River Valley….Every few years this photo of the billboard Taco Bell used to advertise its victory resurfaces….

I remember digging through hundreds of ballots back in 2006 to verify Taco Bell was the winner in the What Rocks the Rock River Valley people’s choice competition. The competition, as I recall, wasn’t close that year. Taco Bell won in a landslide.

We don’t have a complete list of past winners in our digital archives, but I was able to look up a few years in our print archives quickly today. Here they are for 2002-2006 and 2009, 2010 and 2012:

2002: Don Pablo’s
2003: El Reboso
2004: Alvarez
2005: Alvarez
2006: Taco Bell
2009: Dos Reales
2010: Alvarez
2012: Fiesta Grill

[1] http://cheezburger.com/6580559360

[2] http://www.rrstar.com/blogs/kevinhaas/x887149416/Rockford-is-notorious-for-its-Taco-Bell-love



  1. Heather Hutchins · · Reply

    I used to live in Rockford.

  2. Heather, based on your experience, would you consider TB the height of Rockford Mexican cuisine?

    I’ve been to the Chipotle and, chain that it may be, it’s better. I drove past a San Jose Restaurante on State Street that proclaims it is “authentic”, which is, in and of itself, a bad sign. Truly authentic places often have a non-touristy place name like “Michoacan” or “Puebla” and lack drive-throughs.

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