Take Taco Bell. Subtract the dubious ingredients. Add a beachy-chic aesthetic and Dia Del Los Muertos skull. Keep the pink and purple. Now you have U.S. Taco Co.
Sure, the exact math is a bit more complicated, involving 50 different states and 18 months of planning, but the result is still a fancy new fast casual concept from Taco Bell that's just about as authentically inauthentic as you can get.
Co-founded by T-Bell chef Rene Pisciotti and Marketing Director Jeff Jenkins, USTC is Taco Bell for folks who don't like Taco Bell. Inspired by travel and foodie culture, the menu takes America's most iconic dishes, from philly cheesesteaks to fried chicken, and transforms them in a way only Taco Bell knows how. That is, by making them into tacos that aren't really tacos, but taste pretty bomb anyway.
According to Pisciotti, all ingredients on the menu are either house-made, sourced from the same suppliers as Taco Bell, or flown in from where they were inspired, such as brisket for the "Not My First Rodeo" from Texas, or the lobsters for "The 1%-er" from the North Atlantic. Most of the restaurant's ten tacos feature six inch, soft flour tortillas from Mission brand, though flatbreads, corn, and crispy corn shells also make an appearance.
On the rest of the menu you'll find steak-cut fritas, real leche milkshakes, a broad selection of craft sodas from all over the country — a play on the traditional American spread of burgers, fries, and shakes — and an extensive craft beer and cocktail program for future locations, the next of which will "probably" be somewhere in Southern California, near Taco Bell's Irvine HQ. Due to riots at last year's U.S. Open of Surf, the city of Huntington Beach would not issue new liquor licenses for the Huntington Beach flagship.
Check out more of our photos from the press preview below, and relish in the fact that there is not a single Doritos Locos Taco to be found.
U.S. Taco Co. opens next Monday, August 11. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday - Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
U.S. Taco Co.
150 5th St.,
Huntington Beach, CA 92648