Taco Bell is bringing back Nacho Fries for a three-peat

Taco Bell is bringing back its Nacho Fries  on Thursday, Jan. 24, for a limited time. But a lucky few customers could get them earlier.

The news comes a year after Nacho Fries made their debut on the Dollar Cravings menu, quickly becoming the Irvine-base fast food chain’s most popular launch ever. It sold more than 53 million orders of the spicy spuds in five weeks.

Taco Bell took Nacho Fries off the menu, but brought it back for a few weeks in July. Next week’s return will be a three-peat.

Nacho Fries will cost $1.29, up 29 cents from a year ago. The Dollar Cravings Menu has since mutated into the Value Cravings menu, opening the door for slightly higher prices.

Taco Bell originally promoted Nacho Fries with movie-like commercials featuring actor Josh Duhamel uncovering a conspiracy by the “burger people” to keep french fries out of the chain.

This time, Taco Bell is sending out a team of “fryologists” on “Fryday,” Jan. 18 to give out free Nacho Fries to “unsuspecting customers” nationwide. But customers probably won’t be that unsuspecting, because Taco Bell has released a list of restaurants they will visit.

Three are in Southern California:

–303 West Imperial Highway, Brea

–2222 Barranca Parkway, Irvine

–4101 Campus Drive, Irvine

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Taco Bell puts its Las Vegas wedding merchandise online

  • Taco Bell weddings include a hot sauce bow tie. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell weddings include a hot sauce bow tie. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

  • Taco Bell is now selling its hot sauce garters online.

    Taco Bell is now selling its hot sauce garters online.

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  • Taco Bell’s champagne flutes are dishwasher safe.

    Taco Bell’s champagne flutes are dishwasher safe.

  • Taco Bell weddings include a hot sauce bouquet.

    Taco Bell weddings include a hot sauce bouquet.

  • More than 60 couples have tied the knot at the Taco Bell Cantina Chapel.

    More than 60 couples have tied the knot at the Taco Bell Cantina Chapel.

  • Taco Bell has renovated its Las Vegas Cantina used for weddings. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell has renovated its Las Vegas Cantina used for weddings. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

  • Taco Bell has renovated its Las Vegas Cantina used for weddings. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell has renovated its Las Vegas Cantina used for weddings. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

  • The Taco Bell Cantina Chapel provides backdrops for wedding photos. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    The Taco Bell Cantina Chapel provides backdrops for wedding photos. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

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What Taco Bell started in Vegas isn’t staying in Vegas.

The Irvine-based fast food chain has added a weddings page to the Taco Shop, its online merchandise site, to mark the one-year anniversary of its quickie weddings in a quick service restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip.

People can buy items there that the company says were previously only available in person at the Taco Bell Cantina Chapel, near Planet Hollywood at 3717 South Las Vegas Blvd.

For him: Gray T-shirts that say “Mr.” or “Just Married” and a hot sauce bow tie, all $20.

For her: White tanks that say “Mrs.” or Just Married and a hot sauce garter, also $20.

For the couple: A set of two, 6-ounce champagne flutes with a Las Vegas Cantina Chapel graphic, made of reusable and dishwasher-safe styrene plastic for $10.

Wedding packages are $600 at the chapel and include the above, plus the use of a hot sauce bouquet, a reception for 15 guests, tacos and a Cinnabon Delights wedding cake.

The first ceremony took place June 25, 2017, although Taco Bell didn’t launch the service until August. More than 60 couples have tied the knot since, with 25 more signed up, according to a news release.

The restaurant has renovated the restaurant and expanded its party room to hold more guests.

Taco Bell Cantinas have mostly the same menu as Taco Bell drive-throughs, but serve alcohol and special appetizers. The only Southern California Cantina, in Newport Beach, serves, beer, wine and frosé. The Las Vegas Cantina also serves liquor.

 

 

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Taco Bell is bringing back Nacho Fries and the Sly Stallone movie ‘Demolition Man’

Taco Bell is bringing back Nacho Fries on July 12 and taking them to San Diego Comic-Con the following week.

The seasoned fries served with nacho dipping sauce is the most popular launch in Taco Bell’s history.

It was only available on the value menu for a few weeks between late January and early April, but when Taco Bell  pulled it from the menu the Irvine-based company promised to bring it back in the summer.

Along with the fries, Taco Bell is bringing back “Demolition Man,” the 1993 action flick starring Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and a pre-“Speed” Sandra Bullock. It is set in a post-apocalyptic 2032, when Taco Bell is the only restaurant to survive the “Franchise Wars.”

  • Artists rendering shows a concept for a “Demoltion man” Taco Bell. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Artists rendering shows a concept for a “Demoltion man” Taco Bell. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

  • Taco Bell has built a “Web of Fries II” ad campaign around the return of Nacho Fries to its menu. (courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell has built a “Web of Fries II” ad campaign around the return of Nacho Fries to its menu. (courtesy of Taco Bell)

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  • Nacho Fries were Taco Bell’s most successful launch. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

    Nacho Fries were Taco Bell’s most successful launch. (Courtesy of Taco Bell)

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Taco Bell will run with that notion at Comic-Con, which takes place July 19-22. According to a news release, it will offer “a ‘Demolition Man’ pop-up and a futuristic and upscale Taco Bell dining experience” near Comic-Con’s home in the San Diego Convention Center.

If you’re not familiar with the film, Taco Bell is offering free viewing through FandangoNOW today and Thursday, June 27-28.

Taco Bell is also bringing back its “Web of Fries” ad campaign, which starred Josh Duhamel as a man trying to unravel an “The X-Files”-esque mystery behind the Nacho Fries.

Nacho Fries again will be available for a limited time. Taco Bell hasn’t said how long.

Prices will be $1.29 a la carte, $2.49 for Supreme, or $3.49 for BellGrande, which includes beef, cheese sauce, tomatoes and sour cream.

There will also be a $5 box with the fries, a Doritos Locos Taco, a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito and and a drink.

Information: www.tacobell.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taco Bell joins the frosé craze at Newport Beach location

It’s not everyday you hear people describing frozen drinks at Taco Bell as they would describe a fine wine.

But that could happen at the Taco Bell Cantina in Newport Beach, which is test-marketing an alcoholic beverage called Berry Frosé Twisted Freeze.

“The forward taste you’re going to get is strawberry,” spokesman Alec Treffers said at a tasting for food reporters.

A block from the ocean, the location is one of two Taco Bell Cantinas serving the frosé this summer. The other site is in downtown Chicago.

The cost is $7.99 for a 16-ounce beverage with a two-ounce pour of Charles & Charles rosé wine.

“Our fans and costumers find it a very recognizable brand,” said Treffers.

Without the wine, the drink is called a Beach Berry Freeze.

Invine-based Taco Bell has about 7,000 restaurants worldwide, but only about a dozen are Taco Bell Cantinas. Only three are in Western states, and the Newport Beach location is the only one in Southern California. The other two are in San Francisco and Las Vegas.

This one opened six months ago. Like other cantinas, it is different from most Taco Bell restaurants in that it is smaller, has a unique decor, serves alcoholic beverages and does not have a drive-through.

Newport Beach is the only cantina serving a Taco Bell branded beer, and positive reception helped make the location an attractive choice for testing the frosé, according to Treffers.

It is served out of the same slush machine that mixes Baja Blast Freezes. Available equipment and the popularity of frosé helped speed the beverage through Taco Bell’s test kitchen in a couple of months.

The Newport Beach location always planned to serve “Twisted Freezes” but its liquor license only allows the sale of beer and wine, according to Treffers. Options for freezes at the Las Vegas Cantina include vodka and tequila.

The cantina food menu is mostly the same as other Taco Bells except for the addition of $3-$5 “shareables,” which include Cheesy Jalapeño Poppers, Mini Quesadilla Nachos and Naked Chicken Chips.

Taco Bell has announced plans to expand the number of cantinas to 300, but most of the growth will be on the East Coast, according to the company. So this summer it looks like the only place to try a  Berry Frosé Twisted Freeze is in Newport Beach — unless you’re on Dearborn Street in Chicago.

Taco Bell Cantina

Where: 2121 W. Balboa Blvd., Newport Beach

Hours: 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 7 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturday

Information: 949-673-1630, www.tacobell.com

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Taco Bell gets wilder with the return of the Naked Chicken Chalupa

Taco Bell’s chalupa with a shell made out of chicken meat will return this week.

The Irvine-based fast food chain will launch a 2.0 version of the Wild Naked Chicken Chalupa on Thursday, May 10.

The Wilder Naked Chicken Chalupa features a shell made out of spicy fried chicken filled with lettuce, diced tomatoes and shredded cheese, plus a new “bold and smoky” Wild Sauce.

The original Naked Chicken Chalupa was in Taco Bell restaurants for a few short but highly publicized weeks in early 2017. It had a creamy avocado ranch sauce, although a “Wild” version with a hotter sauce was almost immediately tried out in some markets.

Taco Bell Caramel Apple FreezeTo wash down the new chalupa, Taco Bell is testing a Caramel Apple Freeze for $1 in Orange County. A news release describes the beverage as a liquid version of its Caramel Apple Empanada.

The Irvine-based chain has made a name for itself in recent years concocting unusual taco and chalupa shells, most recently with French toast for a breakfast item tested in Ohio.

The Wilder Naked Chicken Chalupa is what the fast food world calls a limited-time offer, meaning it will likely be on the menu for only a couple of months. But Taco Bell seems to like playing with the concept of chicken meat shells. The original version and a Bacon Ranch Naked Chicken Chalupa are currently on the menu with Canada.

Taco Bell is coming off its most popular limited-time offing ever, Nacho Fries, which went away at the end of March but is expected to return in summer.

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Pizza Hut begins beer delivery in Los Angeles and Riverside, with Orange County cities on the way

Pizza Hut’s carbs are carpooling.

Beginning today, May 8, the Texas-based chain will be delivering beers such as Coors Light, Miller High Life and Blue Moon with its pizzas in some Southern California cities, including Los Angeles and Riverside.

Pizza Hut is expanding a pilot program that began with one Phoenix store in December to nearly 100 stores in California and Arizona, according to a news release. It says deliveries come in special containers that will ensure the beer will be cold and the pizza will be hot.

Some California locations will also offer Bud Light, Corona and Stella Artois. Local brews won’t be available initially.

The original Arizona store delivers 12-ounce bottles of Budweiser and Bud Light for $3 each and six-packs for $10.99. Shock Top costs $3.50 a bottle and $11.99 for a six-pack. It has expanded to wine with four-packs of Electric Sky delivered for $12.99.

Other California cities with beer delivery starting today include Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara and Sacramento. Anaheim, Huntington Beach and Redding join the list later this month.

Beer orders won’t affect delivery time. They can be made can be made by phone, mobile app or online at www.pizzahut.com. Customers need to show identification at delivery to prove that they are at least 21.

Pizza Hut is not the only company exploring the possibilities of beer delivery. Papa John’s began testing six-pack sales in Jeffersonville, Indiana, in late April. B.J.’s Restaurant & Brewhouse, the full-service chain based in Huntington Beach, launched a craft beer delivery pilot program in August. And retailers such as Craft’d in Redlands are experimenting with alcohol delivery.

Pizza Hut, part of Yum! Brands, which includes Irvine-based Taco Bell, is celebrating its 60th anniversary. It opened its first store on May 31, 1958 in Wichita, Kansas, and now has more than 17,000 worldwide. Its anniversary promotion is a Double Cheesy Crust Pan Pizza.

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Taco Bell will invade supermarkets with hot sauce flavored tortilla chips

Taco Bell and Doritos have been good for each other for six years, partnering on popular snack chip flavored taco shells. But they may soon be rivals in supermarkets and convenience stores.

Today, March 22, the Irvine-based fast food chain is announcing its own line of tortilla chips that will hit store shelves in May.

Flavors are Classic, or plain, Mild and Fire, the latter two based on the hot sauce packets Taco Bell hands out at its more than 7,000 locations. Bags are also inspired by the packets as well, which are known for their bright colors and snarky comments.

The company believes customers will recognize the packaging and that it will stand out amid rows of competitors’ snack chips, the company said in an email interview.

The chips are described in singles dating website terms on sample bags sent to the press.

Classic: “I’m crispy and delicious with a touch of salt and a ton of crunch … Enjoy me bare … I can be whatever YOU want me to be.”

Mild: “I’m not the kind to brag, but I’m perfectly seasoned with a little kick and A LOT of flavor. … I’m great for parties or lunch dates or when you’re CRAVING a midnight snack.”

Fire: “If you’re not afraid to be bold, then I’m the one for you. … Dare to dance with me?”

One ounce of the chips contains 140 calories and 8 grams of total fat, 10 percent of the recommended daily value. Sodium content is 5-9 percent of daily recommendations.

Taco Bell restaurants sell tortilla chips as a side item with salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, and nacho cheese sauce.

It does not plan to sell or promote the grocery store chips at its restaurants, but will have in-store displays in markets as well as social media campaigns.

The company is currently experiencing its most successful launch ever with Nacho Fries, which have extended their stay on the chain’s menu. It unseated the Doritos Locos Taco, which debuted in 2012 to instant success.

Taco Bell’s Doritos-branded tacos feature hard corn tortilla shells liberally dusted with seasoning that resembles Doritos chips as well as packaging featuring the Doritos logo. It has four Doritos tacos on the menu.

Doritos is a brand of Frito-Lay, which dominates the snack chip market. Doritos had a 72.7 percent share of the tortilla/tostada chip market in June 2017, according to research firm IRI.

Taco Bell’s news release did not say if it had any partnerships in its supermarket venture.

Mild and Fire chips will be sold in sizes from 1 to 30-ounce bags. Prices were not available.

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McRib returns to 700 McDonald’s restaurants in Southern California

The McRib returns today, Nov. 2, to hundreds of McDonald’s restaurants across the country to celebrate its 35th birthday.

Starting today, 700 Southern California McDonald’s restaurants — stretching from Ventura to San Diego  — are serving the barbecue-slathered pork meat sandwich. Over its 35-year history, the McRib sandwich has randomly appeared in restaurants across the nation.

In Southern California, it often shows up around the holidays when diners are looking for a hot meal on a chilly day. The sandwich is made with 100 percent seasoned boneless pork slathered in McRib sauce and served on a hoagie-style bun layered with dill pickles and slivered white onions.

McDonald’s called the McRib an iconic sandwich inspired by the chain’s first executive chef. It first appeared on the menu at a McDonald’s in Kansas City, Kansas.

McDonald’s Chef Chad Schafer said: “Our customers are passionate and tell us they enjoy the sweetness of the barbeque sauce, which pairs perfectly with the hints of pickles and onions. It’s more than a sandwich, it’s a legend and has become an experience for so many to enjoy at McDonald’s.”

The McRib doesn’t typically show up in Southern California every year. But it did make an appearance in local restaurants in 2016. Find a location by downloading the McRib Locator app. Fans can also order doorstep delivery of the McRib through UberEats.

 

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Here’s why you should try Taco Bell’s Naked Egg Taco

  • The Naked Egg Taco is a fried egg used as the shell. It is stuffed with diced potatoes, bacon or sausage, and nacho cheese and shredded cheese. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register)

    The Naked Egg Taco is a fried egg used as the shell. It is stuffed with diced potatoes, bacon or sausage, and nacho cheese and shredded cheese. (Nancy Luna, Orange County Register)

  • A closer look at the fried egg as a shell.

    A closer look at the fried egg as a shell.

  • Register review: “As for taste and portability, the Naked Egg Taco puts other gimmicky Taco Bell breakfast experiments — the biscuit and waffle tacos — to shame. This one feels like it could have sticking power on the menu,” reporter Nancy Luna said. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    Register review: “As for taste and portability, the Naked Egg Taco puts other gimmicky Taco Bell breakfast experiments — the biscuit and waffle tacos — to shame. This one feels like it could have sticking power on the menu,” reporter Nancy Luna said. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • To boost buzz for the breakfast item, various Taco Bell restaurants across the country will be hosting sneak peek events. At the “Bell & Breakfast” previews, fans can try the Naked Breakfast Taco before it rolls out nationally. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    To boost buzz for the breakfast item, various Taco Bell restaurants across the country will be hosting sneak peek events. At the “Bell & Breakfast” previews, fans can try the Naked Breakfast Taco before it rolls out nationally. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • The Naked Egg Taco contains diced potatoes and two types of cheese.

    The Naked Egg Taco contains diced potatoes and two types of cheese.

  • Taco Bell’s Naked Egg Taco debuts Aug. 31 nationwide. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell’s Naked Egg Taco debuts Aug. 31 nationwide. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • The “dressed” Naked Egg Taco comes with a Gordita flatbread. (Nancy Luna/Orange County Register/SCNG)

    The “dressed” Naked Egg Taco comes with a Gordita flatbread. (Nancy Luna/Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • The dressed Naked taco.

    The dressed Naked taco.

  • This Laguna Beach restaurant will host a Naked Egg Taco party Aug. 25. (Register file photo)

    This Laguna Beach restaurant will host a Naked Egg Taco party Aug. 25. (Register file photo)

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Taco Bell should have named its latest taco invention the Unicorn Taco because a fried egg shaped like a taco shell looks like a mythical fast food creature.

You have to see it, to believe it.

Irvine-based Taco Bell, which knows no boundaries when it comes to creating bizarre food mashups, is adding the Naked Egg Taco to its morning breakfast line up Aug. 31. It is a breakfast riff on the wildly popular Naked Chicken Chalupa. The culinary magicians inside Taco Bell’s test kitchen have turned a fried egg into a taco shell.

At first glance, it looks fake. But it’s not.

The reverse engineered breakfast taco is stuffed with diced potatoes, sausage crumbles or bacon and a double dose of cheese: nacho sauce and shredded cheddar.

Liz Matthews, chief food innovation officer, said “shell innovation” is part of Taco Bell’s DNA.

Fans expect the unexpected. Think Doritos Locos Tacos, Quesalupa, the biscuit taco and the waffle taco.

“Whether it’s crispy chicken, biscuits or waffles that wrap up menu item classics, we bring our fans craveable and unexpected food experiences that leave them wanting more,” she said in a statement.

Sneak Peek Taste

Should you give it a try?

I had the chance to sample the Naked Egg Taco several months ago before it went out to test in Flint, Michigan.

It’s definitely a “how did they do that” moment when you first see the taco. I examined every angle of the taco before taking my first bite.

The Naked Egg Taco puts other gimmicky Taco Bell breakfast experiments — the biscuit and waffle tacos — to shame.

As for taste and portability,  the egg “shell” holds together well and doesn’t fall apart. The cheese sauce drizzled on the potatoes adds a nice flavor boost.

But it won’t be around for long. The $1.99 item will be offered for a limited time. It’s roughly a buck less than a regular breakfast taco with scrambled eggs.

It’s definitely worth ponying up the extra quarters to try this inside-out breakfast taco.

If you’re a “modest” eater, Taco Bell says you can bundle up your meal by covering the naked egg/taco shell with a warm Gordita flatbread. (No extra cost).

OpenTable ‘Bell & Breakfast’ Events

To boost buzz for the breakfast item, various Taco Bell restaurants across the country will host sneak peek events. The so-called “Bell & Breakfast” previews will be held in New York (Aug. 17), Laguna Beach (Aug. 25), Austin, Tx. (Aug. 26) and Chicago (Aug. 27).

Fans can make a reservation for each event by booking a seat through OpenTable. The online reservation site will begin taking reservations for the New York event at 8 a.m. Eastern. The New York event will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s unclear how many reservations OpenTable will allow.

In Southern California, we have a few more details.

Franchisee Steve Smith, who owns the 50-year-old Taco Bell in Laguna Beach, said he is planning to feed up 60 fans. The Aug. 25 event will include free food from the entire Taco Bell menu, as well as alcoholic drinks, Smith said.

The adobe-style restaurant is Orange County’s oldest operating Taco Bell.  It is also is the only Taco Bell in Laguna Beach.

Reservations for the Laguna Beach event will open at a later date. Stay tuned.

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Taco Bell, Lyft to offer “Taco Mode” drive-through pit stop in taco-themed car

  • Taco Bell plans to announce the introduction of “Taco Mode,” a special option on the Lyft app that will allow passengers to tack on a Taco Bell “ride-thru” to their Lyft ride. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    Taco Bell plans to announce the introduction of “Taco Mode,” a special option on the Lyft app that will allow passengers to tack on a Taco Bell “ride-thru” to their Lyft ride. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • Lyft passengers in “Taco Mode” will be picked up by Taco Bell themed car. The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    Lyft passengers in “Taco Mode” will be picked up by Taco Bell themed car. The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Riders within a certain geo-radius of the Newport Beach restaurant will only be able to access the Taco Mode experience. The Irvine-based fast food chain, known for its edgy marketing tactics, said Taco Mode is another way to give its core young consumers a convenient way to access the brand. (Courtesy Taco Bell/Lyft)

    The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Riders within a certain geo-radius of the Newport Beach restaurant will only be able to access the Taco Mode experience. The Irvine-based fast food chain, known for its edgy marketing tactics, said Taco Mode is another way to give its core young consumers a convenient way to access the brand. (Courtesy Taco Bell/Lyft)

  • Passengers in Taco Mode will be treated to various swag and food once they enter the taco-themed car, including a free Doritos Locos Taco. The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    Passengers in Taco Mode will be treated to various swag and food once they enter the taco-themed car, including a free Doritos Locos Taco. The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Riders within a certain geo-radius of the Newport Beach restaurant will only be able to access the Taco Mode experience. The Irvine-based fast food chain, known for its edgy marketing tactics, said Taco Mode is another way to give its core young consumers a convenient way to access the brand. (Courtesy Taco Bell/LYFT)

    The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will be available only July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Riders within a certain geo-radius of the Newport Beach restaurant will only be able to access the Taco Mode experience. The Irvine-based fast food chain, known for its edgy marketing tactics, said Taco Mode is another way to give its core young consumers a convenient way to access the brand. (Courtesy Taco Bell/LYFT)

  • During the Taco Mode/Lyft test, passengers will receive a free Doritos Locos Taco. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    During the Taco Mode/Lyft test, passengers will receive a free Doritos Locos Taco. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

  • On Tuesday, Taco Bell plans to announce the introduction of “Taco Mode,” a special option on the Lyft app that will allow passengers to tack on a Taco Bell “ride-thru” to their Lyft ride. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

    On Tuesday, Taco Bell plans to announce the introduction of “Taco Mode,” a special option on the Lyft app that will allow passengers to tack on a Taco Bell “ride-thru” to their Lyft ride. (Courtesy Taco Bell)

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Taco Bell, which has become an expert at catering to experience-driven millennials, is jumping into the gig economy in a new partnership with Lyft.

On Tuesday, July 25 the fast-food chain will introduce  “Taco Mode,” a special option on the Lyft ridesharing app that will allow passengers to tack on a Taco Bell “ride-thru.”  Once a passenger selects “Taco Mode” on the app, the Lyft map will morph: Car icons will turn into tacos “and soon a taco-themed car will pick them up and take the passenger to their next destination: Taco Bell,” the Irvine-based chain said in a statement.

Passengers in Taco Mode will be treated to various swag and food once they enter the taco-themed car, including a free Doritos Locos Taco. As you go through the Taco Bell drive-through to snatch your order, expect the lane to be “decked out with special lighting, completing the Taco Mode experience,” Taco Bell said.

But there’s a catch.

The Taco Mode/Lyft experiment will only be available from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. July 27-29 and Aug. 3-5 at the Taco Bell at 1400 West Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Riders within a certain geographical radius of the Newport Beach restaurant will be able to access the Taco Mode experience. Roughly 15 Lyft vehicles — all wrapped with cartoonish taco and tortilla chip graphics — will be available in the area, Taco Bell said.

The fast food chain, known for its edgy marketing tactics, said Taco Mode is another way to give its core young consumers a convenient way to access the brand.

“We realized that for every person who has asked their Lyft driver to make a pit-stop at Taco Bell – and we’ve seen many – there are likely those who weren’t sure if this was possible,” Taco Bell’s Chief Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg said in a statement. “With the advent of this fantastic partnership with Lyft, we will erase any lingering uncertainty and celebrate the ability to ‘ride-thru’ in Taco Mode.”

Roughly 28 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 19 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds have used ride-hailing services, according to a 2016 report by the Pew Research Center. The median age of adult ride-hailing users in the United States is 33, the report said.

Market research firm NPD Group in New York said time-strapped Gen Xers are also demanding more convenience when it comes to the foodservice industry. NPD restaurant analyst Bonnie Riggs said restaurants who “enhance engagement” among their core consumers will increase sales and loyalty.

“In a competitive environment it’s important for restaurant operators to understand how to gain the attention of important consumer groups,” Riggs said in a statement released Monday.

Taco Bell and Lyft plan to add more Taco Mode ride-sharing options in other markets by the end of the year with an eventual national rollout expected in 2018. The Taco Bell pit stop is not expected to drive up the price of the Lyft ride. The cost of the ride will be calculated based on your pickup and drop-off location within the app.

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