Yum! Brands, Taco Bell’s parent company, announced that it will open an American-inspired, fancier version of Taco Bell in Huntington Beach, California this summer. The restaurant is supposed to appeal to “generally higher-income foodies,” Taco Bell’s Chief Executive Greg Creed told the OC Register.
The restaurant, which will be called U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Tap Room, will serve 10 “premium” tacos ($4 each), thick-cut fries, and boozy shakes. The unfortunately named “Mexican Car Bomb” milkshake will include vanilla ice cream, tequila caramel sauce, chocolate flakes, and Guinness stout. We would call this menu item a big fuck you to Mexico, but that’s just us.
“Taco Bell is Mexican inspired. U.S. Taco is American inspired,” said Creed. The new restaurant’s “Brotherly Love” taco is inspired by a Philly cheesesteak, and it’s planning to sell a Southern fried chicken taco called “Winner Winner.”
It seems that U.S. Taco Co. is appropriating the high-end, cheffy restaurant trend of putting non-Mexican fillings into a tortilla and calling it a taco. Just look at chef Danny Bowien, who’s making bacon and brisket tacos at his upscale NYC Mexican restaurant Mission Cantina, and Chef Alex Stupak, who’s stuffing tortillas with Brussels sprouts and hummus at Empellon Taqueria. #Influencers.
AdAge reports that Jeff Jenkins, senior brand manager at Taco Bell, said that “he hopes the food will lend itself to Instagram photography.” Yes, Taco Bell has created an entire menu based on food that is Instagramable. Welcome to 2014. Note the fact that we predicted the extinction of non-Instagramable food last year.
One of our many questions about Yum! Brand’s new fast-casual taco concept is: How is U.S. Taco Co. anymore American than Taco Bell is? Taco Bell created the notion of American tacos in the first place when it started putting hamburger meat and cheddar cheese in a taco shell—oh, and then there was that one time it made a taco shell out of Doritos.
The Irvine-based fast-food chain is apparently HUNGRY to cop a share of the $34 billion fast-casual restaurant market. So much so, that they recently opened a fast-casual spin on KFC, called KFC eleven in Louisville. Plus, YUM revealed plans earlier this month to open a new fast-food restaurant called Super Chix, which will serve fried chicken sandwiches.
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