Taco Bell’s plan for NYC domination is well underway. The Tex-Mex chain has opened two new Manhattan boozy “cantinas”, where people can now order beer with their tacos — with a third in Midtown on the way.
Frozen cocktails are also available at the chain’s new restaurants in Hell’s Kitchen at 840 Eighth Ave. and in Chelsea at 224 Seventh Ave. The third store, located in Midtown at 500 Eighth Ave., near Penn Station, will open before the end of the year, according to a spokesperson.
New York’s Blue Point Brewing Company is using the “cantinas” — which are essentially a shrunken version of the traditionally suburban, drive-thru venue — as a launching pad for its new beer, the Big City Bell Pilsner, to be sold at all three locations.
New menu items like nacho boxes for $5.59, including a steak and cheddar option, will be served at the Midtown location. A new seven-layer dip will also be added, as well as two additional frozen drink flavors. Diners can add the alcohol of choice to these drinks.
A portion of the Midtown restaurant will be a retail store, with things like t-shirts designed by local artists on sale. And diners will apparently be able to use their phones to change the music playing inside the restaurant. Mobile ordering and self-service kiosks, as well as delivery, will be available.
Two other relatively new cantina-style Taco Bell stores already exist in Brooklyn — one at 1034 Flatbush Ave. in Flatbush and another at 491 Nostrand Ave. in Bed-Stuy. One is also located in the Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Other, non-alcoholic locations can be found in the UES at 1258 Lexington Ave.; in Gramercy at 312 First Ave.; and in Bushwick at 1359 Broadway.
It’s all part of Taco Bell’s bigger plan to open at least 50 more locations in the five boroughs by 2022. Up until now, the chain hasn’t had many locations in urban markets like New York.
Taco Bell has already opened 19 such “cantinas” around the U.S. in a push to break into those big-city markets. It introduced the first one in Chicago in 2015 as a boozy, drive-thru-less outpost of the chain designed for “urban” areas with high foot traffic.