After 8 years, Taco Bell has returned to Shanghai much like Gen. Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines. And like MacArthur, you’ll spend sleepless nights wondering if it was all worth it.
Situated in the heart of Lujiazui next to the Oriental Pearl Tower (Lujiazui Metro Line 2, Exit 2), this is sure to be the most fancy location to give you spicy belly in the entire world.
First Thoughts: Décor
Industrial chic on the outside, this Taco Bell is unapologetically non-Chinese. There is no mention of the Chinese name (塔克贝尔) nor do they even really have pictures of tacos. I would imagine, if I was a visitor from Dong Bei on my way to the Shanghai Tower, I would probably pass by this blissfully unaware of the cheesy goodness inside.
Inside, surfboards line the ceiling as a reminder of its California roots while the rest looks like exactly what you’d expect from a slightly upper class version of a Taco Bell from the movie Demolition Man.
First Thoughts: Food
The food was almost unnervingly fresh. Everything looked like the slimy, gooey Taco Hell, as it was so lovingly named in the USA, from home but tasted like it was made fresh to order. So much so, that in my brain I decided that this was a healthy alternative to my normal meals to justify coming back 3-4 times a week.
The menu is limited as of now with only a few types of burritos, tacos and quesadillas, but I’m sure they’ll continue to expand as they go. There are also some new additions to the menu like chicken wings, French fries and waffles with chocolate syrup. For some reason they have added salads too. You want to be healthy? Don’t go to Taco Bell.
4 Differences Between Chinese Taco Bell and Home
In the USA, you could feed a family of four with the change you found in your couch at Taco Bell. Unfortunately, here your couch better be lined with gold because a Cheesy Chicken Double Decker Taco will run you 39RMB ($5.64). You could get 3 of those in the US for the same price.
2. Drink, Drank, Drunk
Everyone knows it is mandatory in the USA to be drunk when visiting a Taco Bell (Thanks, Obama) but they don’t even have the common courtesy to provide you with the booze you need to do it. Like some kind of animal, you have to drink at home, order an Uber and go. Luckily, Shanghai has fixed this small glitch, as you can now get as drunk as you want here! Surprisingly, they serve mojitos, margaritas and even have Asahi beer on draught.
Those fun hot sauce packets with the silly sayings are gone. I was hoping we'd have them in Chinese, but no dice. It has been replaced by a decent selection of sauces at a sauce bar that now includes Sriracha sauce.
4. Mountain Dew Baja Blast
Oh, God no! Why?! Why, no Baja Blast?!
Overall, Taco Bell was one of the only American staples that gave you hope for your trips home. Now, that it’s here and actually up to and surpassing the standards of Taco Bells back home. We never have to see our families ever again!