Boston-based fans of lukewarm tacos filled with mahogany-colored ground beef paste and wilted lettuce can rejoice: Taco Bell just opened a restaurant in the heart of Boston University territory (872 Commonwealth Ave., Brookline) — and it serves alcohol.
Branded as Taco Bell Cantina, the Tex-Mex chain offers its standard menu — burritos, gorditas, Crunchwrap Supremes, etc. — along with beer, wine, sangria, boozy slushes (which Taco Bell is calling “Freezes”), and a handful of appetizers, including items like chicken fingers, which aren’t available at non-boozy Taco Bells.
Taco Bell district manager Jackie Boisvert told the Boston University’s independent school newspaper The Daily Free Press that the Cantina brand has been hugely successful on Yale’s campus in New Haven, Connecticut. That success influenced the brand’s decision to open on Boston University’s campus.
“We know that our biggest consumer is college students, so why not put a Taco Bell in the Boston University area?” Boisvert told The Daily Free Press. “We’ve noticed in our franchise specifically that our Taco Bells built around college-based areas do better than other Taco Bells.”
The Daily Free Press also notes that the restaurant has no relationship with Boston University and will not be part of the school’s dining program or accept students’ dining or convenience points.
Taco Bell was eyeing Somerville’s Davis Square neighborhood back in early 2017 for its Cantina expansion, but plans never materialized at that location; this week’s opening is the Boston area’s first taste of a boozy Taco Bell.
Taco Bell opened its first Cantina in Chicago back in 2015 and has since opened more than a dozen Cantinas nationwide, including in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, Ft. Lauderdale, Raleigh, and Cleveland.
For what felt like forever, there was a dearth of Taco Bells, even the regular booze-free ones, in Boston and its neighboring suburbs. Folks who lived in or near West Roxbury, East Cambridge, and Everett could count themselves among the fortunate few whenever a Doritos Locos craving struck — that is, until the chain opened an outpost in the more centrally located Downtown Crossing neighborhood of Boston in August 2019, to much fanfare.
The new location is not yet set up on Taco Bell’s website for online ordering, delivery, etc.; swing by the restaurant to order takeout onsite. (Distanced indoor seating is also available.)
• Taco Bell Cantina Opens by Boston University [BRT]
• Taco Bell Cantina Opens on Commonwealth Avenue [DFP]
• Somerville May Get a Boozy Taco Bell Cantina [EBOS]
• America’s First Boozy Taco Bell Cantina, Saturday at 11 p.m. [ECHI]
• Taco Bell Opens in Downtown Boston [EBOS]