Taco Bell's Urban Store Plans and Latest Menu Items

Latest news about Taco Bell are proving the brand’s tagline, ‘Think Outside The Bun,’ still fuels corporate’s decisions. The Tex-Mex QSR chain is breaking its mold by shaking off drive-thrus and adding alcohol to their future locations, in their latest push to expand into urban areas.

According to “Business Insider,” the company that brought to you the Naked Chicken Chips and, most recently, the Naked Egg Taco, had been testing its Taco Bell Cantina concept in seven locations and was slated to open four more by the end of 2017.

Now, they are expecting to open 300 to 350 “cantina-style” stores by 2022.

According to “Food & Wine,” the brand is “zeroing in on big cities like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, and New York (including a plan to open at least 50 locations around the city’s five boroughs.” Each store will be somewhat unique with designs aligning with the local city culture, while featuring digital menu boards and open kitchens.

Taco Bell is known to push the envelope with its menu offerings. Take, for instance, the forbidden bowl and burrito, featuring forbidden rice, being tested in their Irvine location. According to “Thrillist,” a spokesperson told them “No other [fast food restaurant] has tested a black rice product like this." Claiming to be the first to test a dish with a grain product only eaten by royalty in ancient China, hence the name— ‘forbidden.’

That’s why it comes at no surprise that the chain will finally offer boozy drinks like beer, wine, sangria and Twisted Freezes with tequila, rum or vodka at their new urban, cantina-style stores. 

In their Las Vegas flagship location, for example, Spring Valley visitors continue to post pictures with their favorite spiked slush.

I came to Vegas just to get a bacardi baja blast

A post shared by Ava Lavalle (@avalavalle) on

I think I speak for everyone when I say: It was time, T-Bell! It was time...

Cocktails Are a Work of Art at Liquid Art House

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Mixology lovers often believe crafting the perfect cocktail is an art, but this Boston concept takes that idea to a whole new level. Liquid Art House is not only an innovative restaurant — it's a fully-functioning art gallery. From the pieces adorning the walls to the furniture, down to the glassware and plates, everything is for sale. 

"We have a curator that comes in and they rotate about every two to three months, so like a typical art gallery would," bartender Matt Noonan explained, the various styles of the art pieces, whether graffiti or classical, almost dynamic as LAH's menu.

In this episode of “Across the Bar,” we take a seat with Noonan and get a closer sip behind the brand through three signature drinks.  

Resonating with the restaurant's artistic theme, there is a drink in the lineup called the "Blank Canvas." It always changes, as bartenders put creative cocktail concoctions together and pitch them to customers. When those same drink choices become a popular crowd order, that's when they know they're worthy of adding into LAH's impressive portfolio of beverages. 

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Cocktail No. 1: Bloody Orange

This citrus flavored cocktail is not so much sweet as it is nicely blended.

Recipe:

  • Muddled blood orange

  • 1.5 oz Absolut Mandarin

  • .5 oz lemon

  • .75 oz simple syrup

  • Crushed Ice/Rocks

  • Slice of blood orange garnish

Cocktail No. 2: Smoke N' Brew

This drink uses dehydrated orange, fresh juice, and an IPA to bring a unique, smokey, and bitter taste to the table.

Recipe:

  • Muddled dehydrated orange

  • 1.5 oz Old Overholt Rye

  • .5 oz Honey Simple

  • 3 oz Mayflower IPA top

Cocktail No. 3: Loose Talk

This cocktail name was inspired by one of the pieces at the concept, bringing together the idea of art to the art of mixology full circle.

Recipe:

  • 1.5 oz Bullet Rye

  • .5 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

  • .5 oz simple syrup

  • Pinot Noir top

  • Orange peel garnish

Want to learn more about how Liquid Art House brings art to life through their beverage menu? Watch the full episode now.

Farming Industry Impacting Boston’s Summer Tables

Farming Industry Impacting Boston’s Summer Tables

Concerts on the Charles River Esplanade, strolling around Faneuil Hall, browsing farmers markets…these are just a few things that might come to mind when you think summer in Boston. Boston’s strong farming industry impacts the food system, shaping regional summer food trends.

More than ever, the dishes being served in Boston restaurants are designed around the farm, indicative of the area’s thriving culinary scene and the ever-expanding impact chefs and buyers are having on the food system.

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Boston’s Latest Flavor Booster: Charcoal and Ash

The concept of using charcoal in food is nothing new; vegetable ashes, for example, have been used in bread and cheese making for hundreds of years. What is new is that Boston chefs are actually putting charcoal and ash on their plates — and serving it to customers.

Chef Brian Poe calls the taste the “Dorito effect.” He uses charcoal to enhance the grill flavor at his Beacon Hill restaurant, the Tip Tap Room, but only after safely testing the recipes on his own backyard barbeque.

“With actual charcoal, nothing brings to mind rustic outdoor cooking like letting meat slowly cook, roasting a sweet potato in charcoal, or searing a raw piece of charcoal-rubbed tuna,” Poe told the Boston Globe.

His latest foray is charcoal-roasted jalapeños at Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake.

While consumers seem to like the flavor charcoal and ash lends to dishes, they also love the way it looks on their plates — and even take it to social media sites like Instagram. Read more