Move over, burgers and pizzas. Tacos and burritos are now available in Bangalore with the entry of the US-based fast food chain Taco Bell, which opened its first outlet in India last week. Yum! Brands Inc., the owner of the KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, launched Taco Bell at the Mantri Square mall in Bangalore’s oldest cultural hub, Malleswaram. In the months to follow, the company plans to open at least two more Taco Bells in the city.
“We want to have outlets in malls. The fact that Malleswaram has a sizeable population of young people enhanced the benefits of this location,” says Ashok Bajpai, Taco Bell general manager.
The restaurant, located strategically in the front area of the new mall, has already been discovered by college goers and young couples. It occupies two floors and can seat around 100 people.
We squeezed our way in to see what’s on offer and also to sample some of it. The items listed on the menu helpfully come with a pronunciation guide and people were busy mouthing the names silently in an attempt to get them right.
The good stuff
There are 10 types of snacks, 11 main dishes and four desserts. Half the dishes are vegetarian and each listed item has an image alongside. You can choose from tacos, burritos, quesadillas and crunchwraps; each has at least one vegetarian and one non-vegetarian option.
The Grilled Tangy Chicken Stuffed Burrito (Rs79), the most expensive item on the menu, was a full meal in itself. The portion of chicken in the roll was generous. The spiced rice filling was loaded with cheese. The vegetarian variant—the Grilled Fajita Paneer Stuffed Burrito (Rs59)—did not disappoint either. Also stuffed with rice and cheese, the roll was fairly filling and thankfully not very spicy. The Volcano Potato Taco, Rs25, slightly spicier than the burrito, was very crunchy from the outside and stuffed with a soft potato filling with layers of creamy cheese and crispy lettuce.
Everything on the menu, including the Nachos with Tomato and Cheese Topping (Rs45), is a tad spicier than anything available at Taco Bell outlets in the US, says Bajpai. “This is a deliberate change we have made keeping in mind the Indian palate,” he explains.
A huge draw is the “unlimited refill” counter for soft drinks. For Rs35, you can top your glass as many times as you desire, something other international quick service restaurant chains have shied away from so far. Naturally, this self-service counter had a big crowd around it during the time we spent at the restaurant.
The delivery time was impressive, considering that the food items were rolled out and heated only after the order was placed.
Those who go rushing to Taco Bell looking for chalupas and gorditas or other food items they may have tried at Taco Bell outlets in the US, will be disappointed. Items from the international menu will only be incorporated over time. Predictably, there is no beef on the menu and, currently, the non-vegetarian options are limited to chicken-only dishes. The options for vegetarians too are limited to paneer (cottage cheese) or potato fillings.
Value for money is the clear selling point at Taco Bell. Prices start at Rs18 for the Potato Taco (the cheapest item) and go up to Rs79 for the stuffed chicken burrito. A loaded tray (two burritos, one nachos or tacos and two soft drinks) costs Rs250 (inclusive of taxes).