Why Men's Health Called On The Border America's Worst Mexican Chain

At first glance it might seem like many Tex-Mex chain restaurants like On the Border Mexican Grill & Cantina have fairly healthy menu offerings. Many dishes are served with rice and/or beans, and a number of items come paired or topped with at least some type of vegetables or salsa.

Men's Health points out this potential in its list of the best and worst restaurant chains for finding healthy meal options. The magazine believes the best are those that provide healthy dishes — or the ability to customize dishes to make them both satisfying and worth your money. That's why the outlet awards Chipotle the title as best Mexican chain, writing that its "customizable approach puts you in charge of your meal, helping you avoid a surreptitious load of fat."

The worst — while their food may taste delicious — tend to lean heavy on the calorie side. The magazine names On the Border worst in the Mexican chain category, but laments that it didn't have to be this way.

A day's worth of calories in one meal

Men's Health blames On the Border's unhealthiness on its predilection for using breaded fish, fried tortillas, and creamy sauces in lieu of the more nutritional fare that can be readily available in Mexican cuisine. The main entree the magazine singled out for its cartoonish eye-popping calorie count, the Tres Enchilada dinner, clocks in at 1,600 calories. If you can still squeeze into your pants after dinner, button-popping desserts such as its decadent 1,340-calorie Border Brownie Sundae might put you over the edge.

How many calories an individual needs in a day is not completely straightforward. Guidelines vary depending on multiple factors, including age, lifestyle, gender, and fitness amount. But 1,600 is a lot to consume in one sitting no matter how you assess it, as Medical News Today reports that most people need between 1,600 and 3,000 in an entire day. Clearly that's a wide range, but a person working at a sedentary job who doesn't exercise regularly would be wise to keep their On the Border splurges to a minimum. 

To its credit, Men's Health doesn't caution you to eliminate On the Border altogether — the magazine simply advises being more judicious in your menu selections. Instead of ordering the Tres Enchilada, the outlet proposes a simple, healthier option of "two soft tacos with a side of beans, vegetables, or both." That way, you can hopefully still fit in those pants after dinner.