Taco Bell’s new dining concept, Taco Bell Cantina, opened in Wicker Park last week. The first of its kind, it’s a five-minute walk from the Damen Blue Line stop. Its design is more lounge-like than typical Taco Bell restaurants, with free WiFi, exposed brick walls, dim lighting and of course, a menu of greatly anticipated alcoholic beverages. In addition to the new digs and booze options, Taco Bell added some food items under the menu name “shareables,”which are served in a more traditional appetizer style. I took a trip down to the Blue Line, equipped with my camera and accompanied by my Bell-and-booze lovin’ friend, to see how Taco Bell Cantina compared to Taco Bell’s traditional fast food joints.
If you’re a Taco Bell regular (like me), you will probably be thrilled with its signature alcoholic beverages. Customers can add a shot of their choice to one of three different freeze flavors (which run $2.19 without alcohol). Its classic Mountain Dew Baja Blast is one of the choices, along with two new flavors, Cantina Punch and Cantina Margarita. I opted for the Cantina Margarita, and to no one’s surprise, I added a shot of Don Julio Tequila ($7.19). My friend ordered the Cantina Punch with a shot of Captain Morgan White Rum ($6.19). We were fans of both, but if you’re looking to actually taste the alcohol in your beverage, the margarita is your best bet. Next, we shared a glass of sangria for $4, and although neither of us are sangria connoisseurs, we agreed it was a generous serving and pretty tasty for four bucks. A couple types of beers and wines are also available on the new alcohol menu, ranging from $4 to $4.50.
Check out our “round one” haul above. The “rolled tacos” platter (not sure why they weren’t labeled “taquitos”) were the cheapest of the bunch ($3) but also the least impressive. If you’re checking out the new “shareables” menu, this is the one to skip.
We ordered the Nacho Bell Grande next — a classic menu item — and it was also served in an open basket. I’m a big fan of presentation, so I thought this was a cool improvement.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you — chicken tenders are a new menu item at the Cantina. For $5, you get three chicken tenders and to our surprise, they totally hit the spot. I never thought I would speak the sentence, “I recommend the chicken tenders at Taco Bell,” but no lie; I would.
Now if this isn’t one swanky Taco Bell…then I probably don’t actually understand the definition of the word ‘swanky.’
One of our best deals of the day was the “shareable” quesadillas. We devoured eight mini-cheese quesadillas topped with sour cream, salsa and guacamole for only $4.