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Taco Bell's Boozy Cantina Concept Destined for Orange County

Chalupas and alcoholic slushies, anyone?

Taco Bell Cantina in Las Vegas
Eater Vegas
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

Taco Bell’s boozy expansion plans now apparently include Orange County, as the OC Register is reporting a new location of the national chain’s Cantina concept is on its way.

If you’re unfamiliar, Taco Bell Cantina offers a new look for the fast food franchise by sprucing up the interior, expanding and opening up the kitchen, and adding on a license to sell alcohol. It’s a model the company has been toying with for some time, with existing Cantina locations in Las Vegas, Chicago, San Francisco, and Austin. Heck, even Boston might be getting one soon.

Now it’s Southern California’s turn to get in on the tapas-style menu and Taco Bell favorites. This newest expansion will take over Original Pizza in Newport Beach, a 53-year-old restaurant operating on Balboa Peninsula. That restaurant will close this week, with Taco Bell stepping in for a hopeful summer launch.

Considering Taco Bell is a Southern California tradition with its headquarters in Irvine, it’s surprising the Cantina model has taken so long to come home. That said, there are plenty of competitors out this way, from classic originators like Mitla Cafe in San Bernardino to the reborn Naugles fast food restaurant, with its throwback menu and hardcore fans.