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On Taco Bell selling wine

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If more proof were needed that wine has become as mainstream in America as fast food, it was just supplied with Taco Bell’s announcement that the chain will begin serving wine at its stores, beginning in Chicago and San Francisco.

The Irvine CA-based company put out a press release on Sept. 15 stating its intention “to create a new experience as the brand expands into urban markets,” and part of that “new experience” is the creation of a concept they’re calling Taco Bell Cantina (TBC). The press release explains the reason: “Today’s consumers are living in more urban settings and our new restaurants cater to their lifestyle in adapting our traditional restaurant concept to fit their modern needs.”

Well, that sounds like Millennials, doesn’t it? They’re moving to cities like San Francisco in droves, and they are different from their parents and from their more rural cousins. Their “modern needs” include a desire to “live, work and play” in urban settings, where they don’t have to drive a zillion miles to get to and from work. Taco Bell Cantina also will feature “the local architecture of the neighborhoods each restaurant serves,” although so far, there’s no mention of sourcing locally-provisioned ingredients. Maybe that’s the next step.

Here in San Francisco, the new restaurant will be close to AT&T Park, arguably the city’s hottest neighborhood, and will “cater to [that] quick pace, tech savvy and vibrant community.” It also will be as green as fast food gets: “LED lighting, use of reclaimed elements where possible and recycling.”

Will coders cotton to Taco Bell Cantina? I’m sure they will. I never get the impression that the hoards of young developers you see all over San Francisco these days are particularly informed when it comes to food. They like big flavors, some hint of authenticity and inexpensive prices, which is what they’ll find at TBC. I haven’t been able to find a menu for TBC, but the San Francisco Chronicle reports the new foods will be free “of all artificial colors and flavors…by year’s end…Artificial dye Yellow No. 6 will be removed from the nacho cheese and Blue No. 1 will no longer be used in the avocado dip.” The press release says the foods will be “tapas-style…shared appetizers.” That’s very Millennial, too.

Sounds good to me!

I don’t know what the wines will be at the San Francisco location, or the beers, for that matter. It’s not open yet. The Chicago restaurant apparently had a soft opening recently that USA Today reported on. They said the menu included new appetizer items [such as] chicken tenders, rolled chicken tacos [and] mini quesadillas.” That also sounds good to me. I’m often running around looking for something healthful, tasty, fast and cheap. As for booze, USA Today reported that the Chicago location is selling something called Cantina Punch and Cantina Margarita, as well as Dos Equis and New Belgium beers and wines from two California brands I never heard of, Steelhead Vineyards and Stack Wines. Thanks to the miracle of the Google machine, I found out that Steelhead is a project “dedicated to creating a better world”

 

 

 

by supporting Trout Unlimited; the winemaker is an old pal, Hugh Chappelle, who was at Flowers and Lynmar and now works at Quivira. So I bet the wines are pretty good. As for Stack Wines, it seems to be easy-breezy, California-appellated wines-in-a-can made of glass-like plastic.

This is a nice step for Taco Bell to take. There’s a place for fast food in this country, and it’s cool that Taco Bell is lifting the experience up a little. I could see myself grabbing a quick bite next time I’m at a Giants game, which I will be for their final one of the year against the Dodgers, on Oct. 1.

  1. Bill Stephenson says:

    I have seen the Steelhead “Single-serve” wines before and their packaging is pretty clever. A small bottle with a clear plastic glass inverted over the top.
    This leads to my first bit of skepticism – a plastic glass and the original container go into the landfill. I had to look up Stack Wines and they are even more clever in that the container IS the glass.

    Both options are no worse than the plastic cups we see all over the roads in nearly every part of the Western Hemisphere, but I don’t see an improvement the “Dedicated to creating a better world” statement so boldly declares.

    I might try this concept out someday, but for now I can’t help but think of poor Miles from Sideways washing down his fast food burger with a 61 Cheval Blanc in a Styrofoam cup. I’m sure Georg Josef Riedel had a fit when he saw that

  2. The 2010 Steelhead Pinot Noir has many of the pitfalls of low-priced pinots.

  3. Anon Y Mouse says:

    All I can think of is the scene from Demolition Man… “We’re going to Taco Bell…”

  4. Since nobody else is willing to say it, allow me:

    WHAT THE F**K?

  5. Bill Haydon says:

    Awesome, and I take back everything I’ve ever said about Calijuice being dead in the water in restaurants.

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