Taco Bell Is Doubling Down On Its Best Idea In Decades

A Taco Bell Cantina might soon be headed to your neighborhood.

Taco Bell, like seemingly every other fast food chain of late, is plotting a course to expand its reach and influence. Now that the battle for Taco Tuesday is over at last, the company is turning its focus toward building new locations, some of which are extraordinarily small and some of which are extraordinarily large. One type of storefront that Taco Bell plans to expand is neither tiny nor massive—it's the Taco Bell Cantina, and it's simply perfect.

While Taco Bell currently operates somewhere between 7,000 and 8,000 restaurants in the U.S., the company announced this week that it plans to expand that number to 10,000 "in the coming years." Though that timeframe is vague, the timeline for expanding Cantina locations is much more specific: By the end of 2023, there will be a new Cantina in both Indianapolis and downtown Los Angeles, as well as many more locations to come.

Taco Bell Cantinas, explained

Up until 2015, if you ever wanted to drink a beer with your Crunchwrap Supreme or tip some booze into your Baja Blast Freeze, you generally had to do so in the confines of your own home. But then the Taco Bell Cantina came along (its first location was in Chicago), and now we live in a world where Taco Bell locations serve alcohol. Party time!

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Taco Bell describes the Cantina as its "most vibrant restaurant concept," noting in the press release that "Each Cantina is designed to match the ambience of its location with urban designs, open kitchen concepts and alcoholic drinks." They're also designed to "provide localized urban experiences." Like, say, weddings?

While the food menu is the same as any other Taco Bell, the Cantinas offer the option of upgrading your meal with some decidedly high-octane drinks. The Taco Bell Cantina nearest to The Takeout's offices, for example, sells beer, but it also allows you to add rum, tequila, or vodka to any of its Baja Blast Freezes for an extra charge.

I do have to note that the alcohol is carefully dispensed, with a regulator on the bottle, so if you're hoping for your friendly Taco Bell associate to double as a bartender with a heavy hand, you're out of luck. This isn't a place that'll serve you an extra shot on the house. But hey, booze is booze, and the novelty is half the fun—my wife and I took some out-of-town friends to a Cantina and everyone had a (Baja) blast.

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The catch is that you can't leave the premises with the boozy Blasts, and each Cantina has to abide with local alcohol laws just like any other establishment. So no New Orleans–style daiquiri drive-thrus for most of us. But nothing's stopping you from catching a buzz with your Grilled Cheese Dipping Tacos while dining in, and that'll never get old to me.

So look out, Indianapolis and Los Angeles, you've got more fun coming your way. Not only are going to going to Live Más, you're going to drink más, too.

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