"I would love one day to see 1,000 of these."
August 31, 2014 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Taco Bell opens its "upscale" brand extension, U.S. Taco Co., in Huntington Beach: the first of what could be many. "It's food truck food you don't have to chase." The LA Times takes a first look. Money describes it as taking (secret) aim at foodies: "The goal is to win over entirely new customers, notably the folks who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Taco Bell, KFC, or Cinnabon."

FoodBeast has more photos from the press preview. Reviews from LAist and OCWeekly: "I was ready to defend U.S. Taco Co. But then I went to U.S. Taco Co." Slate orders the menu's flagship lobster taco:
"It's actually the One Percenter," the young clerk politely corrected me. Wait, what? "It’s called that because only 1 percent of the world can supposedly afford lobster," she said. And so it has come to pass that an outfit that previously employed a talking chihuahua to peddle 99-cent tacos is suddenly embracing the 1 percent.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (109 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
demolition man joke
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:49 PM on August 31, 2014 [38 favorites]


So this is how Taco Bell wins the Franchise Wars...

Interesting concept, but not my cup of tea. I shall pass on the US Taco Co.
posted by Atreides at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


"The 1% Er" with lobster

what

Mexican Car Bomb

um
posted by naju at 2:50 PM on August 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'm ok with this I guess, I would love it if more chain restaurants focused on making their restaurants less bland and homogenous.
posted by oceanjesse at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]




such as the Winner Winner, fried chicken lightly drizzled in “S.O.B.” (south of the border) gravy and wrapped in a soft flour tortilla.

This is the tryhard-est menu outside of Flavortown.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:54 PM on August 31, 2014 [51 favorites]


I have to say, I'm digging the ceiling-stenciled Day of the Dead art.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:55 PM on August 31, 2014


Taco Co.

From the school of redundancy school.
posted by chavenet at 2:56 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]



 "It’s called that because only 1 percent of the world can supposedly afford lobster,"


Nice use of supposedly.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:58 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not gonna lie, 1%er is a hilarious name for a lobster taco.
posted by Itaxpica at 2:58 PM on August 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Taking secret aim at foodies with Taco Bell tortillas? This seems really oblivious.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:58 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I have to admit the place looks pretty good from the LA Times photos of the interior. The menu sounds interesting as well, why shouldn't Taco Bell try and go upscale? When I was a teen, I ate their food constantly not as food but fuel, since burritos were about 500 calories and only $0.59 each. Now, I opt for more authentic tacos often from food trucks or specialized restaurants or in a pinch, a Chipotle. If this raises Taco Bell's fare to Chipotle-like levels, I'm all for it.
posted by mathowie at 2:59 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I washed them down with a bottle of Leninade, a Soviet-themed red lemonade served in a bottle with a hammer-and-sickle colophon.

Seriously? This is almost as bad as Cultural Revolution brand yogurt.
posted by escabeche at 3:01 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


El Toro Bravo is 5 miles away.
posted by eddydamascene at 3:02 PM on August 31, 2014


Mexican Car Bomb

um


They didn't invent that name; the original drink is a bomb shot with tequila.

Seriously?

Produced by Real Soda™ In Real Bottles, Ltd: Drink a bottle a day and become a Hero of Socialist Flavour!
posted by effbot at 3:06 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


The sample meal at the top of the first link, I gotta admit that sounds tasty as hell. I'd like to see one of these hit around here.
posted by kafziel at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2014


They should call it Taco Co Chanel. Then it would be really upscale.
posted by 4ster at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


Other menu items include "Wanna Get Lei'd" and "The Hot Chick." Not sure if this is casual upscale or aiming for the elusive frat boy market.
posted by naju at 3:07 PM on August 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


So yeah, this is pretty lame.... But what is scary is that in today's market, I bet it has a decent shot. This isn't new coke, this is a laser focused corporate experiment based on everything they know about people (like many of us, certainly me) who think we are not hipster douchebags, consider ourselves too sophisticated for Taco Bell but still want convenience. I can easily see this succeeding.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 3:15 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


extra donkey sauce plz
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:19 PM on August 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


"alcohol-infused shakes".

Oh great. Sugar and alcohol. So, what? Instead of culinary tradition built on good taste, we'll find franchise fake food science applied to fake good food. EG. Alcohol infused shakes. Groan.
posted by xtian at 3:19 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


This isn't new coke, this is a laser focused corporate experiment based on everything they know about people (like many of us, certainly me) who think we are not hipster douchebags, consider ourselves too sophisticated for Taco Bell but still want convenience. I can easily see this succeeding.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory


Eponysterical!
posted by asterix at 3:19 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]




They're actually at the right point in the trend curve for these to work for at least a while. The whole food truck style foodie taco thing is huge right now. And while many of the folks who love that kind of thing may turn up their nose at these, everybody knows the big money in trends isn't the early adopters, it's the second and third wavers. You might need need discerning in-the-know people in LA, Chicago, NYC and the like to start a trend like this, but you need latecomers in Akron and Little Rock and Billings if you really want to cash checks.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:20 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


A food truck I don't have to chase? Somebody's never heard of Food Carts Portland, then. Koi Fusion has more locations than you think!

And thank you for the pointer to the Juanita's impostors--I was just in the store and they had the most prominent point-of-sale display I've seen in a long time.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:24 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is the template of. every beachside college bar from San Diego to Malibu full of surfboards but no one who surfs.
posted by The Whelk at 3:31 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


D.C.: "Reminds me a bit of this: “Frito Lay’s Fake-Local Tortilla Chips Take Aim at Oregon’s Juanita’s”"

That's a bit hilarious. Portlanders angry that a Texan food company is taking over their slice of the Tex-Mex grocery shelves like some kind of cultural appropriation.
posted by pwnguin at 3:32 PM on August 31, 2014


But what is scary is that in today's market, I bet it has a decent shot.

Yeah, I sort of viscerally hate this more than seems justified, but it just seem so emblematic of the general cultural vacuum of walmartification happening around most of the country. More and more of life is coming under the umbrella of larger and larger corporations and their thousands of slick, autotuned-for-your-identity brands & products, and it's not hard to feel revulsion at the continued spread of this increasingly homogenized, empty culture of consumption, "just about as authentically inauthentic as you can get" as LAist says.
posted by crayz at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Blue crabs were so pricey this summer that we changed our annual Maryland-reunion crabfeast to a lobsterfest.

Also, food truck food is street food. Not restaurant food. I know BK is Canadian now but do we really need another megachain?
posted by headnsouth at 3:35 PM on August 31, 2014


Metafilter: The folks who wouldn’t be caught dead in a Taco Bell, KFC, or Cinnabon.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 3:36 PM on August 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


I wear a napkin on my head at KFC to hide my shame from God.
posted by The Whelk at 3:39 PM on August 31, 2014 [63 favorites]


I'm not sure why this ought to be any more offensive than any other Bareburger-ish restaurant. Does the connection to Taco Bell really make it that much worse?
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:45 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


( why does the bareburger official twitter account folliw me, why?)
posted by The Whelk at 3:49 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


A food truck I don't have to chase? Somebody's never heard of Food Carts Portland, then.

In Huntington Beach? No they probably haven't. It's a weird Portland law about food kiosks that allows the perma-carts to stay in one location with flat tires and no pretense of mobility as they do, but that's not the way food trucks operate in most of the country.

I hate when eateries give their products names that are embarrassing to say. Why to restaurants do this? You're basically setting yourself up to have customer after customer say, "Uhm... I'll have the.... potato thing..." pretending like they can't quite read the sign. It is enough to dissuade me from going there.
posted by retrograde at 3:54 PM on August 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


That's like 5 minutes from my house, but seriously, it's southern california, if I want a quick taco I'm not going to a place owned by taco bell.
posted by Huck500 at 3:57 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Mexican Car Bomb

Oh, well, at least they've got cinephiles, then.
posted by dhartung at 3:57 PM on August 31, 2014


The Demolition Man jokes are easy but this is pure They Live! Reminds me of a package of Milano cookies which says something like "Simply Irresistable. So why resist?" Soon our refrigerators will whisper, "Eat, Pray, Submit"
posted by gorbweaver at 3:58 PM on August 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


The glasses let you see the subliminal messages AND the ceiling's true face! Put on the glasses! *thirty minute alley fight*

I would totally eat there
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:02 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Seems like this is more of a threat to Chillis than anything else.
posted by birdherder at 4:06 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm one of those wouldn't-be-caught-dead-in-a-Taco-Bell food-likin' people, in that, if I wanted to be shitting lobster uncontrollably, in the true Taco Bell tradition, I'd use an artisanal pastry bag and give myself a lobster and hot sauce enema and spare myself the horror of having to eat that mess in the first place.
posted by sonascope at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


The only thing I have to say about this is how much I goddamn hate cutesy menu names. I mean, if they have actual meaning (especially local meaning; worked at a place that had mostly appropriately named pizzas after neighbourhoods in the city), that's fine. But 1% Er? Fuck off. Mexican Car Bomb is nothing but offensive.

Alcoholic milkshakes are fucking awesome, however. Recipe: 2c ice cream of your choice, 1c whole (homo) milk, as many ounces as you like of your favourite booze. Best: vanilla/Baileys, vanilla or something fruity/Amarula, rum raisin/rum, anything with caramel/rum, chocolate/Godiva.

Also I say all this as a person who gets roughly a once a year craving for Taco Hell, indulges it, and then regrets it for the rest of the day. Stick to your core brand identity, for fuck's sake: pseudo-Tex-Mex oversalted garbage that runs through your system like Drano.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:10 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Re: mason jars
posted by naju at 4:11 PM on August 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Honestly, as someone in a restaurant-related field, if this trend means there'll be fewer people opening even more of those goddamned gourmet burger places I'm all for it.

Black Angus beef on a pretzel roll with a fried egg? Again?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 4:11 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I really don't see how this is any more objectionable than having a dine-in soft pretzel at Target.
posted by univac at 4:12 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


drizzled in (south of the border) gravy

That's a euphemism out of slashfic if ever I saw one.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:13 PM on August 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


Ten bucks for a taco that has only one fucking tortilla?
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 4:14 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really don't see how this is any more objectionable than having a dine-in soft pretzel at Target.

Big soft pretzels are proof that God exists and wants us to be happy, no matter their source.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:20 PM on August 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'll definitely need the three seashells after trying any of those.
posted by Evilspork at 4:33 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Why would I pay than $3.75 for a (secretly) Taco Bell taco when supposedly hipster taco places in my city sell them for $3 each? (Or my favorite place that has an every day special of $6 for a beer, a shot, and a taco.) And they are actually *good*.
posted by misskaz at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or my favorite place that has an every day special of $6 for a beer, a shot, and a taco.

I want to go to there
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:35 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Big soft pretzels are proof that God exists and wants us to be happy, no matter their source.

Or that you're in Philadelphia and about to make a very poor decision at a food cart that predates Food Carts
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:35 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh great. Sugar and alcohol. So, what? Instead of culinary tradition built on good taste, we'll find franchise fake food science applied to fake good food. EG. Alcohol infused shakes. Groan

The Alamo Draft house does a 512 Pecan Porter shake with candied pecans and a straw big enough to suck candied pecans through. It's legit.
posted by theweasel at 4:36 PM on August 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Re: mason jars

Incredibly this NYT article says sales have only doubled since a decade ago.
posted by Pre-Taped Call In Show at 4:37 PM on August 31, 2014


Or my favorite place that has an every day special of $6 for a beer, a shot, and a taco.

I want to go to there


Let me know if you ever swing by Chicago. I'll take you. (Apologies for the pop up advertising their other restaurant.)

Also, flour tortillas? Corn tortillas or GTFO.
posted by misskaz at 4:41 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I ever swing by Chicago, I'm only doing so with enough money to eat at Alinea and Next--and probably enough time to walk into one of the kitchens the next day and beg on hands and knees, grovel if necessary, for a one- or two-week stage.

Meaning that cheap beer + tacos will be an essential thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:47 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also flour tortillas have their place in making wrap-things, which corn tortillas suck at. And wraps are a great lunch thing.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:48 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the Taco Bell affiliation is supposed to be a secret they're doing a TERRIBLE job of it. Literally every single article about this place mentions it.
posted by acidic at 4:50 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh great. Sugar and alcohol. So, what? Instead of culinary tradition built on good taste, we'll find franchise fake food science applied to fake good food. EG. Alcohol infused shakes. Groan.

Are you fucking completely new to this planet? We've been mixing sugar with alcohol for hundreds of years, and alcohol with milkshakes for decades. I don't even know what "fake good food" means; it's real edible food, and it really tastes good.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:52 PM on August 31, 2014 [26 favorites]


As an Austinite, it looked to me like one of the places they studied to come up with this concept was Torchy's.

Also, it's not like the KFC/Taco Bell folks are the first brand series like this in restaurants, designing places to hit the same "ethnic" foods at different income/type levels. Pei Wei is the downscale version of P.F. Chang's. I can't be surprised that the people who own Taco Bell are also trying for a different taco-eating demographic after seeing how Chipotle does.
posted by immlass at 4:54 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


This brings to mind a certain tangential Achewood strip:

AWWWW YEAH! WHO WANTS SOME DONKEY BRAY-BRAY IN THEIR FLAVOR CUNT! super totally nsfw
posted by clockzero at 5:06 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Mandatory cross reference to Demolition Man.

Mandatory Grace Jones video of Demolition Man
posted by thelonius at 5:10 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Are you fucking completely new to this planet? We've been mixing sugar with alcohol for hundreds of years, and alcohol with milkshakes for decades.

Not to mention that Christmas drink with sweetened milk, eggs and varying combinations of brandy/rum/bourbon. The name escapes me right now.
posted by TedW at 5:14 PM on August 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of the time Taco Bell thought they could break into the China market and rebrand themselves as upscale Tex-Mex. The food was terrible -- even worse than regular Taco Bell fare -- but they somehow managed to keep three locations open for about five years. Ironically, a year or so after they gave up, there was a Tex-Mex explosion (no jokes, please) in Shanghai, and this new restaurant would probably do pretty well there now.
posted by bradf at 5:14 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Makes me wonder what an upscale Mighty Taco would be like, and whar drugs the kids who work there would be unbelievably high on.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:20 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Soooooo basically Torchy's Tacos, then? They even ripped off the lighting/decor/crazy menu titles.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 5:24 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile -- and I know this ship has well and truly sailed, but still -- I really hate when websites do write-ups of eateries (especially positive ones) based off media previews. It's basically free advertising. In fact, it's worse because it's based off a junket.
posted by retrograde at 5:25 PM on August 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you make eggnog without using too much sugar it's healthier than most American breakfasts.
posted by crayz at 5:27 PM on August 31, 2014


Yeah sure I'll laugh at this all day long but I'll line right the fuck up for a lobster taco because that sounds fucking delicious
posted by BitterOldPunk at 5:37 PM on August 31, 2014


Re: mason jars

Incredibly this NYT article says sales have only doubled since a decade ago.


Makes sense. One person canning a big batch of preserves or whatever could easily use as many jars as a whole fauxpalachian bar.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:39 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Surely they're aiming (as the OC Weekly reviewer notes) at the Chipotle audience, not "foodies," a category of people which (if it exists anywhere outside of the middlebrow hate fantasies of the squarer-than-square, during the rare moments they tire of thinking about how awful "hipsters" are) must be going to upscale farm-to-table restaurants or cooking at home with farmer's market ingredients, not eating at a fucking bro'd-out Friday's-esque glorified Taco Bell in Huntington fucking Beach?
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:47 PM on August 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also I think more than 1% of people can afford a $9 meal?
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:48 PM on August 31, 2014


Hell, even hipsters can afford a $9 meal.
posted by thelonius at 6:00 PM on August 31, 2014


It's like they recognize the existential threat from Chipotle but don't have the guts to do actual burritos...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:09 PM on August 31, 2014


Somewhat offtopic, but a pro's guide to doing Taco Bell right. (Canada's bean burritos cost 2$, which seems like a crime, they are worth a dollar).

To start off - it's fuel, not food (as pointed out earlier in the thread). 2nd of all, you really don't want the cheapest meat that can be engineered, you just don't want it. So, get the 99$ bean burrito.

It's fuel, not a meal, so you don't want enough to stuff yourself - you'll regret it. Get one.

Then add fire sauce (which is like mild sauce at any self-respecting mexican or tex-mex place). It almost gives it flavor.

Finally, eat it fairly quickly, but immediately after getting it in your hands. The thing has a shelf-life of about 10 minutes. If it gets cold (or even less than hot) it's unacceptable fuel.

For actual Tex-Mex fast food make sure you go to Taco Cabana's if you're ever in Texas. For even better Tex-Mex, I miss Chuy's so much it makes me want to Austin.
posted by el io at 6:33 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


If this place actually has fresh tortillas and sauces, I'd totally eat there. Tex-Mex ain't that hard to get really really tasty; fresh ingredients, freshly made sauces (from scratch), freshly made tortillas. Ain't brain surgery.
posted by el io at 6:36 PM on August 31, 2014


Hell, even hipsters can afford a $9 meal.

For more of us than you'd think, a $9 meal is a luxury.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:39 PM on August 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Chuy's has actually become a chain themselves, they have locations all over the South now.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:39 PM on August 31, 2014


Seeing as how yeast eats sugar to produce alcohol I'm not entirely sure how you could help but mix sugar and alcohol.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:59 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have never, ever been so proud of where I was from before. Upscale Taco Bell is just so Orange County. I am good at beaches and malls and tastelessness. Because OC. How I love thee.
posted by dame at 7:09 PM on August 31, 2014


I just read a whole book about Sambo's, a US restaurant chain that no longer exists (and not for the reasons you'd think given that awful name). One big takeaway was that this kind of moving your eye off the ball to pursue a new/more upscale concept tends to be a classic misstep for a lot of big brands. Will be really interesting to see if they avoid the usual pitfalls.

From a distance, I mean. Wouldn't fucking eat there if they paid me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:09 PM on August 31, 2014


Alcohol infused milkshakes? I can see it now, all over the sidewalk. Watch where you step...
posted by tommyD at 7:15 PM on August 31, 2014


And corporate food is corporate food, no matter how you dress it up in hip. Help save America - eat independent.
posted by tommyD at 7:17 PM on August 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have to say, I'm digging the ceiling-stenciled Day of the Dead art.


Mictlantecuhtli would like a taco. He's going to order off-menu, but you probably have the ingredients he's looking for.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:37 PM on August 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


A local burger chain here, Burgatory, makes bourbon milkshakes that are pretty awesome.
posted by octothorpe at 7:46 PM on August 31, 2014


Or my favorite place that has an every day special of $6 for a beer, a shot, and a taco.



Now I miss my old place that would, on weeknights, sell you a beer and a shot for $3, and later someone would come round with tamales.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:51 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Right, I'm going to be in Cerritos for a week, any suggestions for good Mexican? I think I'll leave this place off of my itinerary.
posted by evilDoug at 8:19 PM on August 31, 2014


if this trend means there'll be fewer people opening even more of those goddamned gourmet burger places I'm all for it.

Y'know how 50's diners had (and a few retro-themed places still have) those jukebox panels in the booths? I think these places should, by law, have to put defibrillators there.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:20 PM on August 31, 2014


So... yet another way for Taco Bell to embrace the 1-percent.
posted by markkraft at 8:58 PM on August 31, 2014


Foodies actually care about good food. Not that I would ever eat at Taco Bell, but the beef has a very specific cheap characteristic; has had since I was a teen, and that was a while ago. It sounds like it will be Olive Gardenized tacos. Should be a hit, maybe not with foodies, but with people who want their food and other experiences nicely packaged.
posted by theora55 at 9:44 PM on August 31, 2014


"It's food truck food you don't have to chase," said Jenkins. "It's playful, it's different, it's not about creating the next chain concept."

Its a good thing I don't work for this kind of company, because I couldn't say such ridiculous stuff without cracking up.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:05 PM on August 31, 2014


There's nothing wrong with eating at Taco Bell once in a while and this comment above is pretty good advice. Plus, Taco Bell has come out with a great menu item that is pretty damn satisfying. Yes, it has meat but I'm willing to go there.

I can't keep up - so, is "Chipotle" for foodies or not? I care about good food and I love their burritos, and this upscale Taco Bell in the FPP I'm guessing is looking to lure the Chipotle customer.

(I also like Rubio's. Fish Taco Tuesdays!)

feeling belligerent
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:40 PM on August 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Plus, this photo looks delicious YOU KNOW YOU WOULD EAT THAT UP.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:41 PM on August 31, 2014


I must mention again, sorry to plug, but if you're in SoCal and want amazing Tex-Mex, my brother and sister-in-law have a place in Blue Jay that has the objectively-internationally-judged best tamales in the world.

As I am in Brooklyn, however, I would be happy for just one place that makes crispy tacos anymore. I'm sick of being judged for not wanting my food to be wrapped in what inevitably feels and tastes like a rubbery piece of bland rawhide.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:26 PM on August 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yep. Corporate food is food "product" - not actual edible ingredients prepared and served by capable hands.

I shudder to think about where that lobster came from, how long it lived in a tank, and how long it was frozen....

A small pho chain restaurant opened up near me recently (9021PHO) and uh, the veggies are totally gmo factory farmed. The cilantro has exactly ZERO flavor. How does that happen to such a forward flavored herb? It looks fresh, but it has no taste. Totally freaky if you know what any kind of food tastes like.

They leave out the fish sauce, too, and that's fine for an Americanized Vietnamese restaurant. But for heaven's sake, at least serve real noodles, broth, and veg. Everything is par-cooked and out of a box or bag.

Which brings me to.... Sysco's domination of the restaurant industry is really awful, such that they supply almost everyone big and small, and their factory veg and meats, prepared soups, sauces, and other staples means restaurant guests are really just eating the same stuff everywhere they go... There's no escape from Sysco food product...

Anywho

I suspect this fake foodie fast food Taco Hell joint is going to be like that 9021PHO place, very pretty but utterly lacking in taste and quality.

It's really not the general public's fault. It's hard to miss real food that's made fresh from scratch when it's not regularly available anymore.

Imagine if these places put more $$ into the ingredients and training their staff to cook real food, rather than the flash decor and marketing blitz. Boy, that would be delicious!

I hope the trend of "pretty cardboard restaurant food" dies by fire, preferably, a volcanic apocalypse.

I know that is not how these things go, however.

*Sighs*
posted by jbenben at 11:38 PM on August 31, 2014


"It's food truck food you don't have to chase."

Look, I don't know what the hell you people are doing out there in southern California, but here in flyover country the food trucks, y'know, park - it's not like I gotta run down the street screaming and waving dollar bills in the air.

Seriously, could there be a more nonsensical bit of market-speak?
posted by soundguy99 at 1:11 AM on September 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Look, I don't know what the hell you people are doing out there in southern California, but here in flyover country the food trucks, y'know, park - it's not like I gotta run down the street screaming and waving dollar bills in the air.

Some of the trucks with a huge following would move around the city (I think Kogi was randomly covering about 500 square miles), so people would have to follow their twitter account to figure out where to go - hence the chase.

A small pho chain restaurant opened up near me recently (9021PHO)

This name used to set me into fits of rocking and hang-wringing. Or is it supposed to be a visual pun with an awkward pronunciation or an auditory pun based on a mispronunciation of their signature dish? Or an auditory pun with a knowing wink at the mispronunciation? Or did Kimmy Tang take it to some next-level triple irony by making it a visual pun with an awkward pronunciation with a knowing wink at both the mispronunciation and a play on the convention of naming pho restaurants with lucky numbers? Or is it just terrible Vietnamese food for white people? Sounds like the latter.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:29 AM on September 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Or is it just terrible Vietnamese food for white people? Sounds like the latter.


The sad thing is, Vietnamese food is really difficult to phoque up.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 3:52 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think what the issue for me and this place is the whole corporate part of it, and the inevitable results. This won't be about a couple of cooks or chefs with an idea and running with it. It's going to be a menu created by a committee that will look at market research and trends. Then the corporate kitchens will try to create something that can be reproduced at multiple locations reliably by minimally trained, high turnover staff. I think the comment upthread that it's like Olive Garden (or Pei Wei, Cheesecake Factory, take your pick) is exactly right on. If those places are the kind of thing you like, then this will be right up your alley.

but if you're in SoCal and want amazing Tex-Mex......I would be happy for just one place that makes crispy tacos anymore.

Seriously, your brother's place may be awesome and all that, but I would never take a Mexican food recommendation from someone who craves crispy tacos, and then complains about authentic tacos. It shows complete ignorance of authentic Mexican food, and my tastes would be completely opposite.
posted by Eekacat at 6:33 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


There are perfectly authentic crispy tacos (flautas, tacos dorados, etc) but they aren't those weird yellow corn chip shells that come in a box and Taco Bell still serves.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:44 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Geez what a terrible lede on that LA Times story. Dangle much?
posted by Clustercuss at 7:38 AM on September 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


> I really hate when websites do write-ups of eateries (especially positive ones) based off media previews. It's basically free advertising

I feel that way about the photos, too. I suppose that if I went into one of those places and ordered a taco it would come just as beautifully styled and Instagram-ready, but I suspect the photographer did their best to make it look as pretty as possible.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:54 AM on September 1, 2014


I feel that way about the photos, too. I suppose that if I went into one of those places and ordered a taco it would come just as beautifully styled and Instagram-ready, but I suspect the photographer did their best to make it look as pretty as possible.

Yep. I mean, that'll still happen somewhat if you do a real review and send a photographer to take some photos (unless you just snap iphone pics of your actual meal, but those don't look so appetizing in print), but at those events they basically have someone there styling all the food perfectly so the bloggers get their food pr0n.

Meanwhile, everyone stands around sipping free cocktails and schmoozing it up with the eatery's owners and PR people (the same PR people who give them all their "scoops" about new openings and such).
posted by retrograde at 9:29 AM on September 1, 2014


Ughh, [cringe] 'Southern Squealer' as the name for something on a menu?! That's just awful. That's a pig pleading for its life as it's hauled into the abattoir. Not to mention the Deliverance rape scene.
posted by Flashman at 9:49 AM on September 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I like Torchy's, Chuy's, and Taco Cabana as much as the next person who has one of each within three miles or less, but would like to point out that Taco Bell is not aiming for Tex-Mex. It was founded in California (as noted in the LAT article) and while it's not really Cal-Mex (for lack of a better term) either, you can tell it's not Tex-Mex by its copious lack of peppers.

Taco-Bell is really 1950s food preserved in amber and served to the masses at 1950s prices.

Recently there's been a wave of news stories talking about the troubling decrease in US same-store sales for fast food restaurants (McDonald's but also KFC and Burger King among others).

One reason that's been bandied about is that millennials are no longer interested in the FoodTM that fast food corporations have perfected over the last fifty years and instead they have moved to fast casual restaurants (Panera, Chipotle, etc.) for the better tasting food. That's pretty obvious to most of us--after all, who wouldn't prefer food which tastes like food when given a choice--but it seems like it has the fast food corporations running scared.

I'm not sure I think putting a taco shop with a menu put together by Taco Bell's executive chef right in the middle of SoCal's crowded taco scene is the best move, but whatever. I don't like Chipotle either and clearly there's lots of people who disagree. Also, if I was in HB right now I'd eat at Bruxies because fuck yeah their food is amazing.
posted by librarylis at 10:32 AM on September 1, 2014


everyone stands around sipping free cocktails

See also: Yelp Elite events.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:40 AM on September 1, 2014


See also: Yelp Elite events.

Yeah, pretty much. I suspect the tone of those is a bit more "you're here because you're special!" whereas press ones go for more "we're all friends just hanging out!"

Press previews of eateries are increasingly catering more towards bloggers, because they know many of those people will happily tweet and instagram and gush about the whole thing, whereas reporters from traditional media outfits just go for the free food and booze—if they go at all.

Of the stories linked in this post, the LAist one and the FoodBeast one are both based off previews, and they are by far the most positive.
posted by retrograde at 12:35 PM on September 1, 2014


Seriously, your brother's place may be awesome and all that, but I would never take a Mexican food recommendation from someone who craves crispy tacos, and then complains about authentic tacos. It shows complete ignorance of authentic Mexican food, and my tastes would be completely opposite.

Respectfully, no it doesn't. I grew up with Tex-Mex, and authentic Mexican food as well. This is stuff I've eaten my entire life, from amazingly good upscale places to genuine tasty street carts to trash I've regretted. I personally don't like soft tortillas. That's all I'm saying.

(And in any case, my brother would probably give me even more shit for that preference than you did.)
posted by Navelgazer at 9:07 AM on September 2, 2014


Well if I'm going down to HB, I'm going to Fiesta Grill because I guess Rick works there now or something and damn if his mom didn't make the best Mexican food ever.
posted by malocchio at 11:55 AM on September 2, 2014




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