Living in Southern California means we all have strong opinions when it comes to tortilla chips and Mexican food in general. Emily found her favorite chip after asking a local restaurant how they make their perfect, salty chips, only to find out they were from the grocery store brand Juanita's, and Kelly swears by pairing Santitas with her famous guac. Like previous taste tests, Jess lined the chips up for us in bowls, so we had no idea what brand, or restaurant, we were tasting from. Unlike previous taste tests (see ice cream and store-bought cookies), our team was almost unanimous in our opinions when it came to tortilla chips. We each had a clear favorite and disappointment, which we found after diligently eating each chip plain, then dipping it in salsa and homemade guac (we're basically food researchers at this point). Read on to find out which chip is absolutely worth a grocery store run:
We love Trader Joe's, so we're pretty devastated that every time we've taste tested their products, they've consistently ranked in last place. More than half the office immediately thought these chips tasted like cardboard and instantly requested a glass of water since this is a substantial chip (and not in a good way). The corn flavor is very strong, yet somehow the chip still tastes bland. Katie recommends the yellow corn version over these, but ultimately, TJ's is just not the place for your tortilla chip needs.
Overall score: 3.3
Despite Kelly's love for them, our team found the Santitas chips to be so forgettable at best. While you wouldn't complain if these chips came free to your table, they were stale (despite having just opened them), bland, and corny in a bad way. Our advice? Spend your money on another bag.
Overall score: 4.5
If all the chips had a distinct corn flavor, this one was the outlier. Instantly, we all recognized a soy and lime hint that overpowered the traditional flavors of a tortilla chip. Unlike Tostitos Hint of Lime (which we disqualified from our tasting, opting for plain salt flavors to level the playing field), the lime dust wasn't coated on the exterior of the chip, which made the bold flavor even more unexpected. If you like a quirky flavor, you'll love this unique entry.
Overall score: 4.7
Oh, Tostitos. You'd be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn't indulged in a bowl of these, from scoops to Restaurant Style. While this chip didn't top our list, we all acknowledged that Tostitos always taste good with salsa and a margarita, and will be a part of our diet for the rest of time.
Overall score: 5.4
Emily's chip entry, which she confused for house-made restaurant chips the first time she had them, were melt-in-your-mouth, salty goodness and our top entry for store-bought chip. Seriously, we can't stress enough how quickly you should run to the grocery store to get these. Each chip has the perfect amount of salt and oil, while still retaining the enviable snap that is perfect for dipping. Of all of the chips we tried, the bowls of Juanita's and our number one pick had to be refilled until we'd finished the bags. They taste like they were made in a restaurant, but can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home.
Overall score: 6.8
Maybe it isn't entirely fair to the store-bought chips to include a restaurant-made option, but we were curious to see how a fresh chip stacked up against bagged options. Turns out: It really is better (though not that much better than our #2 pick!). Fresh chips come at a higher cost, but it may be worthwhile to pick up a bag for your next homemade guac.
Overall score: 7.3
Let us know your favorite chips in the comments below. We're always looking to taste more!