SLO’s authentic Taco Bell will be the franchise’s most legendary

SLO’s authentic Taco Bell will be the franchise’s most legendary

Burritos Categorical on Santa Rosa Avenue in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2023. The restaurant options the identical entrance patio space the place Creedence Clearwater Revival as soon as famously ate Taco Bell.

Andrew Pridgen/SFGATE

For a era quickly getting old into its personal obsolescence, there’s one thing comforting but foreboding about driving by a restaurant that has the distinct adobe-themed shell of an outdated Taco Bell.

Although lots of the quick meals behemoth’s authentic buildings aged out of use and have been subsequently torn down, the repurposing of the relics left behind — particularly in California, the place Taco Bell served its first crunchy taco in 1962 — continues to be frequent.

If there’s one restaurant that stands out as a singular authentic, the crown jewel (or hidden gem) of the shelled-out Taco Bell style, it would simply be the one on Santa Rosa Avenue in San Luis Obispo.

Why? A mix of things actually.

SLO Taco Bell, movie star sightings and a high earner within the US

The OG SLO Taco Bell is among the first era within the restaurant empire’s early enlargement, and constructed a wealthy and prolific historical past, together with movie star sightings and, in its prime, reportedly held the title of being the No. 1 grosser amongst Taco Bell areas within the U.S.

The restaurant’s placement is notable. SLO’s first Taco Bell sits on the sting of the Cal Poly campus, and for almost all of its heyday was the one eatery in SLO that stayed open 24 hours to cater to late-night scholar cravings.


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Susan Veasey and Dave Hauxhurst indulge in a little taco nostalgia at the soon-to-close Taco Bell in San Luis Obispo, Calif., February 1990.

Susan Veasey and Dave Hauxhurst take pleasure in a bit taco nostalgia on the soon-to-close Taco Bell in San Luis Obispo, Calif., February 1990.

On Feb. 6, 1990, the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune ran a requiem for the city’s soon-to-be-shuttered authentic Taco Bell location.

“When Dave Hauxhurst remembers his most cherished school experiences, he’ll image himself shivering within the chilly beneath an enormous, glowing sombrero at 3 a.m., chomping on quick meals,” the article started. “For Hauxhurst and others, Taco Bell at 281 Santa Rosa St. isn’t only a place the place tostadas are slapped collectively. It’s a practice, a florescent, light-bathed haven for a era of late-night scholar partiers. However, in a number of weeks, the eatery will notch its final nacho. It’ll shut for good in favor of a brand new constructing opening the identical day, simply 100 yards down the road.”

“Loads of my recollections from the dorms — the late-night snack runs — will probably be taken away,” Hauxhurst informed the newspaper. “I feel a variety of the scholars will miss that.”

‘More cash than some other Taco Bell restaurant within the nation’

The superlatives didn’t cease there. “The outdated Taco Bell has grossed more cash than some other Taco Bell restaurant within the nation, in line with its proprietor,” the Telegram-Tribune famous.


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It was additionally described as a spot to see and be seen, one in all “only some all-night eating places close to Cal Poly. It has developed into THE rendezvous level for worn-out, late-night college students.”

Opened in 1967, simply 5 years after the chain’s founder Glen Bell greeted clients on the window of his first Taco Bell restaurant in Downey, California, the quick meals restaurant took maintain quick. The identical yr the SLO model fired up its grill, the restaurant celebrated the addition of its a hundredth location at 400 South Brookhurst in Anaheim.

Burritos Express on Santa Rosa Street in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2023. The restaurant was once a Taco Bell beloved by generations of Cal Poly students.

Burritos Categorical on Santa Rosa Avenue in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2023. The restaurant was as soon as a Taco Bell beloved by generations of Cal Poly college students.

Andrew Pridgen/SFGATE

The SLO restaurant benefited from being in a key geographic midway level between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It additionally “didn’t harm that the eatery was on the best way to Freeway 1 and Huge Sur,” the SLO Tribune reported in a retrospective of the restaurant in August 2021.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Taco Bell glory captured right here


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Location could have confirmed the largest issue when it got here to the emergence of one of the vital iconic Taco Bell images in existence — one which pops up on social media and on-line message boards usually.

It’s of El Cerrito traditional rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival mowing down the dear contents of these signature, early days yellow wrappers.

Maybe it’s the frenzy of nostalgia — a classic Bay Space act of their classic prime, consuming at an eatery that could possibly be in any city, California — that causes individuals’s hearts to flutter (or burn). One snapshot taken with an outdated movie digital camera of an on a regular basis second within the solar having fun with some quick meals that may by no means be replicated.

On-line sleuths have gone as far as thus far the photograph to Aug. 2, 1968. “In keeping with the CCR tour historical past web site,, they have been in Palo Alto, CA on July 28, 1968, and in Santa Monica, CA on August 3, in order that they have been in transit to Santa Monica. San Luis Obispo is about half means between,” Classic Los Angeles posted on Fb together with the image of the photograph in June 2019.

The photograph is attributed to bon vivant, physique builder and fashionable artist cowboy Gerald “The Maestro” Gaxiola, a San Luis Obispo-born Bay Space legend who can be seen within the feedback part of the Classic Los Angeles submit holding up his personal photograph album with the unique photograph in all its grainy Kodachrome glory.


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‘So rattling pleasant to the inebriated’

Whereas the unique SLO Taco Bell was changed with a extra sterile, cube-like restaurant in February 1990, the restaurant’s successful streak continued on the new location.

In November 2017, Cal Poly’s scholar newspaper Mustang Information reported that “Cal Poly simply can’t get sufficient of that Taco Bell situated at 397 Santa Rosa St., particularly late at evening on the weekends” noting that the brand new(ish) Taco Bell was the “second-leading Taco Bell in gross sales within the nation and first in California in gross sales throughout Cal Poly’s important three quarters.”

“I suppose we’re simply so rattling pleasant to the inebriated,” Anthony DiBernardo, then a scholar and Taco Bell supervisor, informed the Mustang Information on the time.

As for the unique location, a revolving door of quick and low cost Mexican joints rotated by the constructing, which nonetheless has its signature entrance patio intact and, as soon as inside, seems, feels and capabilities very very like an outdated Taco Bell.

New restaurant makes outdated Taco Bell faves upon request


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The restaurant stays in use in the present day as the brand new residence of one other upstart Mexican grab-and-go referred to as Burritos Categorical, which incorporates a neat Taco Bell Easter egg — however we’ll get to that in a minute.

In October, brothers Efren and Porfirio Arroyo opened their restaurant’s second location right here. The primary spot, in Paso Robles, has been a breakout hit.

Burritos Categorical’ promise would possibly sound acquainted to Taco Bell aficionados: Mexican delicacies, quick, scorching, genuine and at worth pricing. It’s a mannequin that’s resonated with patrons who’ve rewarded the restaurant’s first location with practically five-star scores on Google and Yelp.

Porfirio Arroyo, who’s managing the SLO location, stated the combo of genuine and reasonably priced Mexican meals and a fortuitous location (subsequent to a Starbucks) has created a buzz in Paso. “Go to Burrito Categorical. Go for breakfast, lunch or dinner, JUST GO!!!” a Google person lately posted.

“We opened (in SLO) final month. We’re beginning to see individuals greater than as soon as, college students, academics, individuals visiting SLO,” Arroyo informed SFGATE throughout a latest go to. “We actually attempt to prioritize protecting the standard of the meals up however the costs down. Different locations, burritos run $15 and up. Right here you get out the door for $9 or $10, and we’re simply nearly as good, possibly higher.”

He’s proper. On latest journeys, I used to be capable of get a chorizo scramble breakfast burrito and a rice, bean and cheese burrito for a fast lunch, and every time it made a minimal dent in my pockets: underneath $12, together with tip.


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Burritos Express on Santa Rosa Street in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2023. The restaurant was once a beloved Taco Bell that is earning accolades of its own.

Burritos Categorical on Santa Rosa Avenue in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on Nov. 6, 2023. The restaurant was as soon as a beloved Taco Bell that’s incomes accolades of its personal.

Andrew Pridgen/SFGATE

The foil-wrapped delicacy begins with a heat, contemporary tortilla, and every chunk, accented with the store’s signature scorching sauce, which has a particular smoky aftertaste — not dissimilar to authentic Taco Bell scorching sauce that got here in a dip cup — instantly launches it into the stratosphere of the area’s greatest.

The store’s specialties? “I like to recommend the pastor, asada, particularly the cabeza,” Arroyo stated. “We wish individuals to attempt some new issues. Issues we do proper.”

Some clients even cease by to feed their very own nostalgia, Arroyo admitted, saying he realized shortly of the constructing’s Taco Bell bona fides.

“The primary week a lady got here in and requested if we may make a crispy taco like (Taco Bell),” he stated, smiling.

Did he make it?

“Oh yeah, we did,” he stated. “She took one chunk and stated, ‘That is it!’ I feel she loved it.”

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