Remember Taco Bell? That Tex-Mex chain you loved/hated back home (if you're American) or that taco place you've heard about on TV (if you're not)? They've just made their return to Shanghai after an eight-year hiatus, and they're flogging tacos, burritos, nachos, margaritas, beer and more.
Just next to Lujiazui metro stop's Exit 2, the spot is what you might expect from a fast food joint plus a shot of gentrification - decorative wooden beams, suspended surfboards, a fair bit of purple. They've also opted for the glass-walled kitchen, giving you a full view of where the taco 'magic' happens.
If the interior has you pleasantly surprised, the quality of the food might leave you similarly impressed. The 'double decker' tacos (Cheesy Beefy or Cheesy Chicken, 39RMB meal combo), basically your standard tacos but wrapped in a flatbread with some melted cheese serving as an adhesive, are tasty and have the bonus of not crumbling to pieces in your hands.
The Volcano Chicken Burrito (39RMB meal combo) and the Shrimp and Avocado Burrito (42RMB meal combo) are flavourful too, offering just the right amount of spice and freshness respectively. But both are missing the rice that you might expect from an American-style burrito (and we're in China, right?) and are on the small side considering they are meant to be the taking centre stage in the meal.
This is the theme for much of the menu - the food is good, but the portions aren't exactly what we hoped for.
If you've got an appetite you'll probably need to delve into the sides, such as the Premium Nachos (17-29RMB) or the 'Seasoned Bone Chicken' (15-25RMB), or just order more tacos, to get your fill.
But hey, why worry about the small portions when there's booze on the menu? As well as on-tap Asahi (25RMB) the menu features three frozen alcopops. Our Pinky Gin and Green Margarita were both very drinkable, and whilst the alcohol level wasn't exactly kicking, it's not bad for 28RMB and was enough to send us down to the Lujiazui platform more jolly than we ought to have been on a Monday.
A lot of people are pretty excited about Taco Bell opening here for the first time since 2008, and after our first visit it seems this place just about lives up to the hype. The food is tasty, and even though the portion sizes might mean your order (and your bill) might be bigger than you had hoped, there's some reasonably priced booze to wash away the mixed emotions. If ya dig, check out full venue details below.