Healthy Options at Rubio’s

Rubio's Fish Taco

Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill has about 180 locations in California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Nevada.  A few months ago, I “rediscovered” Rubio’s when driving back up from San Diego — we stopped in for lunch, and found that the HealthMex Veggie Burrito was darn tasty.

They’re big on the fish tacos, and I’m particularly pleased to see that they’ve set a goal for majority of their seafood to achieve a favorable sustainability rating by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program by 2011.

Right at the top of Rubio’s online nutrition information, they make some recommendations which are worth repeating:

  • Get the HealthMex items; they all have less than 30% of the calories from fat and less than 700 calories (even the plates).
  • Get the salad dressing on the side, or, better yet, use salsa instead.
  • Choose grilled seafood instead of fried.
  • Skip the cheese, sour cream, or white sauce.
  • Get a side salad, beans, or rice (or nothing) instead of chips (they’ll swap these out on any order).

I’ll add a few of my own: 

  • Avoid anything with the word “Big,” “Blackened,” or “Gourmet.”
  • Avoid the burritos — every burrito has at least 1,000mg sodium (and some have over 2,400mg, your entire day’s limit).
  • Skip the Nachos or Quesadillas, the saltiest, fattiest, and most caloric options on the menu.
  • Any two of the HealthMex tacos make a good meal, as long as you skip the chips on the side.
  • Stick with Corn Tortillas for your tacos. Flour tortillas add 50 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 340mg of sodium, per taco.

I’m going to rail against the amount of sodium in these foods (here’s why you should, too) — not only is it high by the numbers, but also I find their food tastes a bit too salty.  Hopefully they’ll jump on the lower-sodium bandwagon soon, and make sodium levels a factor in their HealthMex requirements, too.

Fish & Seafood Tacos – Better Choices

These numbers are for ONE taco.

HealthMex Mahi Mahi Taco
170 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 4g total fat, 200mg sodium, 21g carbs, 2g sugar, 3g fiber, 12g protein

Grilled Mahi Mahi Taco
250 cal, 2g sat fat, 11g total fat, 150mg sodium, 25g carbs, 2g sugar, 4g fiber, 13g protein

Chile Lime Salmon Taco
250 cal, 2g sat fat, 12g total fat, 220mg sodium, 26g carbs, 2g sugar, 4g fiber, 11g protein

Fish & Seafood Tacos – Worst Choices

Garlic Herb Shrimp Taco X
340 cal, 570mg sodium

Fish Taco Especial X
320 cal, 510mg sodium

Grilled Mesquite Shrimp Taco X
220 cal, 530mg sodium

“World Famous” Fish Taco
270 cal, 430mg sodium

Blackened Mahi Mahi Taco
240 cal, 480mg sodium

Veggie Taco – Better Choice

There’s only one vegetarian taco on the menu.  Although a bit high in fat, it deserves an honorable mention.

Grilled Gourmet Portobello & Poblano Taco
290 cal, 6g sat fat, 17g total fat, 330mg sodium, 26g carbs, 3g sugars, 4g fiber, 12g protein

Chicken Tacos – Better Choices

Chicken Street Taco
90 cal, no sat fat, 2.5g total fat, 180mg sodium, 9g carbs, no sugar, 3g fiber, 8g protein

HealthMex Chicken Taco
130 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 240mg sodium, 22g carbs, 2g sugar, 3g fiber, 10g protein

Chicken Tacos – Worst Choices

Grilled Chicken Taco
250 cal, 3.5g sat fat, 12g total fat, 380mg sodium, 23g carbs, 2g sugars, 4g fiber, 13g protein

Grilled Gourmet Chicken Taco X
320 cal, 7g sat fat, 17g total fat, 600mg sodium, 24g carbs, 2g sugars, 4g fiber, 20g protein

Steak & Pork Tacos – Better Choices

Carnitas Street Tacos
100 cal, 1.5g sat fat, 4.5g total fat, 250mg sodium, 9g carbs, 2g sugars, 2g fiber, 7g protein

Steak Street Tacos
120 cal, 2g sat fat, 6g total fat, 380mg sodium, 9g carbs, no sugar, 2g fiber, 8g protein

Steak & Pork Tacos – Worst Choices

Grilled Gourmet Steak Taco X
350 cal, 8g sat fat, 21g total fat, 790mg sodium, 24g carbs, 2g sugars, 3g fiber, 19g protein

Grilled Steak Taco
220 cal, 4g sat fat, 10g total fat, 520mg sodium, 22g carbs, 1g sugar, 3g fiber, 13g protein

Veggie Burritos – Better Choices

HealthMex Veggie Burrito
500 cal, 6g sat fat, 15g total fat, 1,380mg sodium, 74g carbs, 8g sugar, 8g fiber, 12g protein

Veggie Burritos – Worst Choices

Grilled Veggie Burrito
680 cal, 1400mg sodium, only 3g fiber

Regular Grilled Veggie Burrito
680 cal, 11g sat fat, 1,400mg sodium

Bean & Cheese Burrito X
760 cal, 19g sat fat (!), 1,860mg sodium

Fish & Seafood Burritos – Better Choices

HealthMex Mahi Mahi Burrito
560 cal, 6g sat fat, 20g total fat, 1,380mg sodium, 67g carbs, 5g sugar, 6g fiber, 29g protein

Regular Mahi Mahi Burrito
650 calories, but deserves an honorable mention for being the lowest-sodium burrito on the menu, at “only” 1,030mg.

Fish & Seafood Burritos – Worst Choices

Blackened Mahi Mahi Burrito X
640 cal, 1,700mg sodium

Chile Lime Salmon Burrito X
670 cal, 1,170mg sodium

Fish Burrito X
750 cal, 1,620mg sodium

Grilled Mesquite Shrimp Burrito X X
730 cal, 2,200mg sodium (nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium)

Chicken Burritos – Better Choice

HealthMex Chicken Burrito
520 cal, 5g sat fat, 14g total fat, 1,730mg sodium!), 69g carbs, 5g sugar, 7g fiber, 28g protein

Chicken Burritos – Worst Choices

Baja Grill Burrito – Chicken X
630 cal, 11g sat fat, and 1,800mg sodium.

Chicken Rajas Burrito X
750 cal, 1,790mg sodium

Big Burrito Especial – Chicken X X
820 cal, 1,980mg sodium

Steak & Pork Burritos – Avoid

These are the highest in calories and sodium of all the burritos.

Baja Grill Burrito – Steak X X
720 cal, 2,430mg sodium (an entire day’s worth of sodium)

Carnitas Rajas Burrito X X
790 cal, 2,000mg sodium (nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium)

Steak Rajas Burrito X X
830 cal, 2,280mg sodium (nearly an entire day’s worth of sodium)

Big Burrito Especial – Steak X X
900 cal, 2,470mg sodium (an entire day’s worth of sodium)

Salads & Wrapsaladas – Better Choices

I recommend getting the dressing on the side (or skipping it altogether), so the info here is without dressing. Dressing stats are listed separately below.

The “Wrapsaladas” are simply the same salads in a tortilla.  Add 300 calories and about 800mg sodium for a Wrapsalada.

Side Salad
45 cal, no fat, 180mg sodium, 8g carbs, 2g sugars, 2g fiber, 3g protein

Chicken Balsamic & Roasted Veggie Salad
250 cal, 2g sat fat, 7g total fat, 680mg sodium, 21g carbs, 5g sugars, 4g fiber, 24g protein

Chicken Surfside Citrus Salad
250 cal, 2g sat fat, 7g total fat, 900mg sodium, 24g carbs, 6g sugars, 7g fiber, 26g protein

Chicken Chipotle Ranch Salad
260 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 11g total fat, 970mg sodium, 20g carbs, 6g sugars, 8g fiber, 24g protein

Salads & Wrapsaladas – Worst Choices

Blackened Mahi Mahi Surfside Citrus Salad
270 cal, 2.5g sat fat, 8g total fat, 1,170mg sodium, 23g carbs, 6g sugars, 8g fiber, 28g protein

Chicken Chopped Salad X
380 cal, 4g sat fat, 14g total fat, 1,030mg sodium, 33g carbs, 7g sugars, 8g fiber, 32g protein

Chicken Grilled Grande Bowl X
550 cal, 7g sat fat, 18g total fat, 1,540mg sodium, 61g carbs, 8g sugars, 8g fiber, 40g protein

Salad Dressings

Sorted by Calories.   Watch the fat & sodium, too.  Better to use salsa instead; see below.

Balsamic Dressing
90 cal, 1.5g sat fat, 5g total fat, 390mg sodium, 9g sugar

Chipotle Dressing
110 cal, 2g sat fat, 11g total fat, 105mg sodium, 1g sugar

Chopped Dressing
120 cal, 2g sat fat, 11g total fat, 370mg sodium, 3g sugars

Chipotle Ranch Dressing X
220 cal, 4g sat fat, 21g total fat, 370mg sodium, 2g sugars

Surfside Citrus Dressing X
250 cal, no sat fat, 23g total fat, 430mg sodium, 9g sugars


Roasted Chipotle Salsa
5 cal, no fat, 120mg sodium

Salsa Verde
5 cal, no fat, 150mg sodium

Regular Salsa
5 cal, no fat, 180mg sodium

Salsa Picante
20 cal, 1g fat, 200mg sodium

Sides – Better Choices

Stats here are for “regular” size.

Side Salad
45 cal, no fat, 180mg sodium, 8g carbs, 2g sugars, 2g fiber, 3g protein

120 cal, no sat fat, 1g total fat, 220mg sodium, 25g carbs, 1g sugars, 1g fiber, 2g protein

Pinto Beans
110 cal, 0.5g sat fat, 1.5g total fat, 340mg sodium, 22g carbs, no sugar, 8g fiber, 2g protein

Black Beans
100 cal, no sat fat, 0.5g total fat, 340mg sodium, 17g carbs, 2g sugar, 2g fiber, 6g protein

Sides – Worst Choices

Chips X
260 cal, 1g sat fat, 13g total fat, 290mg sodium, 33g carbs, no sugar, 4g fiber, 3g protein

Guacamole & Chips X
790 cal, 6g sat fat, 49g total fat, 920mg sodium, 85g carbs, 2g sugars, 16g fiber, 10g protein

Enchiladas – Better Choice

Actually, I’d recommend you avoid all the enchiladas, but if you insist, at least the Cheese Enchilada has less sodium.

Cheese Enchilada (One)
340 cal, 12g sat fat, 21g total fat, 570mg sodium, 23g carbs, 2g sugar, 3g fiber, 17g protein

Enchiladas – Worst Choice

Carnitas Enchilada (One) X
380 cal, 13g sat fat, 23g total fat, 810mg sodium, 24g carbs, 3g sugar, 3g fiber, 23g protein

Chicken Enchilada (One) X
370 cal, 12g sat fat, 21g total fat, 740mg sodium, 23g carbs, 2g sugars, 3g fiber, 24g protein

“Other Favorites” – Better Choice

Chicken Taquitos (Three)
270 cal, 2g sat fat, 8g total fat, 360mg sodium, 33g carbs, 1g sugar, 4g fiber, 16g protein

“Other Favorites” – Worst Choices

Cheese, Chicken, or Steak Quesadilla X X
1,120-1,270 cal, 30-33g sat fat, 70-78g total fat, 1,940-2,820mg sodium, 87-89g carbs, 4g sugar, 7-8g fiber, 39-56g protein

Nachos Grande (all types) X X
1,270-1,430 cal, 27-31g sat fat, 78-87g total fat, 1,850-2,730mg sodium, 112-114g carbs, 2-4g sugar, 20-22g fiber, 37-54g protein

Menu Mondays are my recommendations for the most healthful options at chain restaurants. Although it may be tough to find “perfect” options when eating out, it’s important to choose “better” whenever possible, and I hope these guides will help make that easier for you.

indicates the “best-of-the-best,” and X indicates the “worst-of-the-worst,” more or less.

Rubio’s Nutrition Information

Rubio’s Nutrition Calculator

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John E
March 12, 2016 12:00 pm

Rubio’s has discontinued HealthMex and whole wheat tortillas. Go to the restaurant’s website, fill out customer survey, and request that they bring back whole wheat tortillas and add brown rice to the menu, while they are at it.

They claim to be a healthful fast food restaurant, but cutting out fiber is obviously a step in the wrong direction.

Reply to  John E
March 5, 2020 7:22 pm

I agree we need healthier choices

Roberta Shrimpton
February 16, 2014 12:40 pm

I tried to order healthy-mex salad at my local Rubios in La Jolla, CA and they didn’t have it on their menu. I’m sure I read it on your menu website. Grilled chicken, cabbage, etc. please tell me why it is on your website but not at your eatery.
Thank you.

Mychael M
February 2, 2014 2:08 pm

Hi, Andrew,

Not sure if you can help, but appreciate it if you can. I normally order a grilled veggie burrito with no cheese and no white sauce, then add avocado slices. I can’t seem to calculate the nutrition by looking at Rubio’s Nutritional guide. Any ideas?