Launching this summer in Southern California’s Huntington Beach is a new fast food Mexican restaurant with a menu of tacos designed to spotlight chef-designed flavor combinations. Although Taco Bell Chief Executive Greg Creed says U.S. Taco Co and Urban Tap Room is not a Taco Bell spin-off, the new chain is owned by the popular Irvine-based fast-food chain. With a menu designed to appeal to those with a more sophisticated palate than the average Dorito taco-shell craving consumer, the new upscale Mexican fast-food restaurant includes a lineup of 10 tacos and daily chalkboard specials.
Examples of some of the available items:
• The Winner Winner: fried chicken lightly drizzled in “S.O.B.” (south of the border) gravy and wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.
• The Southern Squealer: features pulled pork with peach jalapeno barbecue sauce.
• The Smokey & The Bandito: stuffed with Texas smoked beef brisket topped with salsa and melted Oaxacan cheese.
• The One-Percenter: Lobster, garlic butter, red cabbage slaw, and pico de gallo on crispy fry bread.
• The Brotherly Love: Carne asada steak, grilled peppers and onions, roasted poblano queso, and cotija cheese in a flour tortilla.
You can order fries, or loaded fries, with “Papas Fritas” made with habanero dust, ghost chile ketchup and roasted poblano crema and carne asada fries, made with an order of “Papas Fritas” topped with carne asada, a four-cheese blend, queso, avocado, salsa, roasted poblano queso, pico de gallo, cotija cheese and cilantro.
A selection of Milkshakes shakes infused with alcohol such as the “Mexican Car Bomb” (shown below) made with vanilla ice cream, tequila caramel sauce, chocolate flakes and Guinness stout, will also be offered (although not available at the Huntington Beach location).
“A year ago, we conducted an extensive study on our consumer segmentation and identified a separate consumer group that simply was not going to visit quick service restaurants, at all,” Jeff Jenkins, Taco Bell senior brand manager, said in a statement. “The result is U.S. Taco, a new concept sit-down restaurant that offers the best fusion of American-inspired flavors in tacos, fries and shakes for that emerging demographic of edgy foodies looking for a unique dining experience.”
Their own branded condiments include “Jalapeno Lube” and “Thai One On Lube”:
The Los Angeles times says There is already a second location of U.S. Taco Co. in the Los Angeles area under development. This location will serve beer, wine and the spiked milkshakes.
The National Restaurant News reports that customers will order at a counter, but the idea is not to build your own taco, as one might do at a Chipotle. The menu instead spotlights the chef-designed flavor combinations.
Most dishes will be prepared in-house, in glass-enclosed kitchens that allow guests to see meat grilling or tacos in the works — though a few ingredients will come from outside suppliers, like the Texas smoked brisket or Southern pulled pork.
The menu will also includes shakes spiked with beer, and a selection of craft beers. The first location, however, a 1,600-square-foot unit on the beach-adjacent development known as The Strand, will not offer alcohol, Creed said.
But craft beers will be a vital component of future locations, including about four to six varieties on tap and roughly 50 types in bottles and cans. Don’t look for margaritas, however. “This is not a bar,” said Creed.
U.S. Taco Co.’s décor will include vibrant colors — red, white and blue — inspired by a Mexican Day of the Dead festival, with a prominent sugar skull logo. A 400-square-foot patio will offer outdoor seating.
Computer renderings of the restaurant’s exterior and interior (courtesy of US Taco Co.):
The average check will likely be around $11.50 to $12 with a drink. Tacos are priced at about $4 each, two for $7, or three for $10. By comparison, Taco Bell’s average check is about $7.20.