gourmet taco bell

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LAist – Taco Bell is stepping up to take on the next generation of gringo tacos with a chain called U.S. Taco Co. The new chain, which will debut in Huntington Beach this summer, is and isn’t like its fast casual competitor Chipotle. There’s no drive-thru and customers are going to end up dropping more money than they normally would for Fourth Meal (on average about $12 versus $7). But unlike Chipotle’s build-your-own-burrito concept, the menu items are “chef-driven.”

On U.S. Taco Co.’s menu are offerings like the “Winner Winner,” which features Southern-style fried chicken breast with “SOB,” or “South of the Border” gravy, roasted corn pico de gallo with fresh jalapenos and fresh cilantro in a flour tortilla. The “One Percenter” features fresh lobster in garlic butter with red cabbage slaw and pico de gallo on crispy fry bread. The “Brotherly Love,” is a nod to the Philly Cheesesteak, with carne asada steak, grilled peppers and onions, roasted poblano queso and cotija cheese (rather than Cheez Whiz), and fresh cilantro in a flour tortilla. On the side: “papas fritas,” which resemble steak fries, coated with habanero dust and dipped in housemade sauces such as ghost chile ketchup or roasted poblano crema. Guests can also order their fries loaded with taco ingredients sans tortilla as a “secret menu” option.