What makes the perfect fast food taco?
For some, it’s the meat to toppings ratio – the relative amount of chicken, beef or beans compared to filler like lettuce, tomatoes and cheese.
For others, it’s the seasoning. If you’re biting into a tightly-packed $1 taco, the last thing you want is for it to taste like beef water.
And then, there are people who are less interested in what’s inside the taco, who care about the shell itself. They need the hard shells to be perfectly crispy, and for the soft shells to be durable and hold everything together. For them, Taco Bell’s Doritos locos taco is just a normal taco with an added bonus – a delicious, crunchy Nacho Cheese Doritos shell.
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Whatever your perfect fast food taco is, however, you’ll have the chance to try something new next year, when a major west coast chain arrives in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.
California-based Del Taco is bringing seven restaurants to Sarasota and Bradenton by next year, according to a first-quarter financial statement released by the company April 29.
If you’ve never heard of Del Taco, which, I’ll be honest, I hadn’t until two days ago – it’s apparently a lot like Taco Bell. A quick Google search of “Del Taco vs Taco Bell” shows that the two chains regularly duke it out on sites like Business Insider and Thrillist for the title of best fast food taco in the country.
To expand to the west coast of Florida, Del Taco partnered with FreshMex FL LLC, a quick service operator with more than 20 years of restaurant experience and 200-plus operating units across multiple brands. Another operator, Navdeep Bassi, also plans to open several Del Taco locations across Florida’s Space Coast region.
Since Del Taco isn’t in Sarasota yet, I unfortunately can’t contribute to the “is it better than Taco Bell” discourse (although, let’s be honest, my stomach and other internal organs are probably better off).
What I can tell you is Del Taco, unlike its closest competitor, sells burgers, fries and milkshakes, and that its desserts, like the mini churro dipper shake and caramel cheesecake bites, look way more appetizing than the only dessert I could find listed on the Taco Bell menu – Cinnabon delights.
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In a story posted last February, Thrillist actually described Del Taco’s “the Del Taco” as “like Taco Bell’s Crunchy Taco, but upgraded.” The writer of that story wondered out loud why there isn’t a Del Taco on every corner. Well, we might not be getting one on every corner in Sarasota, but seven is a pretty good start.
Del Taco itself operates about half of its roughly 600 restaurants, while the other half are under the control of mostly out of state franchisees, according to the company. In addition to Sarasota and Bradenton, Del Taco also has agreements for eight restaurants in the Greenville/Spartanburg, South Carolina, region and three restaurants in the Macon/Albany, Georgia region, showing a commitment to expanding in the southeast.
At this point, it’s not clear where the Sarasota-Bradenton Del Taco locations will be. I searched “Del Taco” and “FreshMex FL LLC” in both counties’ public records websites, and so far, nothing has come up. Del Taco also didn’t return an email I sent requesting more information. But don’t you worry, I’ll keep an eye on it.
So, be on the lookout for this new-to-the-area chain, and maybe in the meantime, take some time to consider what your perfect fast food taco is. Oh, and if you were wondering, for me it’s pretty simple – soft shell, refried beans and plenty of cheese.
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