Carlos Eats Seoul: Taco Bell (타코벨) Grand Opening in Sinchon 09/16/11

Many food bloggers in South Korea report an increasing interest in Mexican food throughout the nation as many local chains begin to pop up around Seoul. It certainly makes sense for a popular franchise, such as Taco Bell, to expand into the country. However, Taco Bell previously failed to expand into South Korea with 2 locations in the 90s and closed down in China back in 2008. The change in interest in foreign foods and increase in foreigners visiting South Korea may also play a factor, in addition to the powerful marketing today with the use of the internet and blogs to make food trends.

Taco Bell suffered serious losses in the United States after it was falsely sued in January for only having 35% meat (the lawsuit was later dropped) though international locations did better financially. The move to Seoul is a big step with only 250 locations out of the United States as of September 2010. The price of Mexican food can be pricey in South Korea and a cheap resource like Taco Bell is certainly welcome by me. Also: Taco Bell is perhaps the only fast food chain in Korea that offers free refills on soft drinks. There are only 3 Taco Bell locations currently open in Itaewon (이태원), Hongdae (홍대), and Sindorim (신도림). The next location will have its grand opening this Friday, September 16th, in Sinchon (신촌동) by UPLEX  just a short distance from Yonsei University and Ewha University.

Website: http://www.tacobellkorea.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Taco-Bell-Korea/194679020581660

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/theboldchoice

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Tia Cori’s Tacos (Daytona Beach)

My friends I took a trip out to Daytona Beach some time ago to relax and get away from the day to day. When we arrived in town after a 2 1/2 hour trip we were all hungry and I was a little disappointed when I saw nothing but chains and fast food on International Speedway Boulevard (the main road leading to the beach). I took out my phone and used Yelp to find Tia Cori’s Tacos. Yelp reviewers described Tia’s as “affordable”, “authentic”, and ” the best tacos on the East coast”. Being the Mexican food connoisseur that I am, I had to investigate.

Once we parked we found ourselves on a strip of restaurants and shops. The palm trees, blue skies, and ocean breeze certainly created that beach town vibe. We were surprised to find that Tia Cori’s was actually aesthetically pleasing with outdoor seating to the street and plenty of tables and booths inside. The cashier greeted us upon our entry and happily answered any questions we had about the menu. I decided to order their burrito ($7.00) and also a taco made both Mexican and American style ($2.00). I accompanied my order with an horchata ($2.00) with unlimited free refills!

The chips tasted great. They were warm and toasty. The texture can be seen in the photography above. The chips were different from your typical tortilla chips and I actually felt a connection to the chips of Mema’s Alaskan Tacos here. The horchata I had tasted great and wasn’t too milky. The consistency of horchata is important. If the drink is too milky or watery, then it makes your throat close up, but this horchata was made just right.

The burrito was quite large as you can see. I probably would have been satisfied with just the burrito if I wasn’t trying to fully explore the menu during my visit. Well-made, the burrito maintained its structure during my meal.

The burrito was slightly more expensive than the burritos you can buy in Tampa, but to include all the ingredients inside this burrito you would normally pay far more for this kind of burrito. This carne asada burrito included beans and rice, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and avocado as default ingredients. I did not have to pay 50 cents or $3.00 more to try and add ingredients that should be the standard in a burrito, which is one of my biggest complaints about Mexican food in Tampa Bay. Indeed, if you are given the opportunity to eat burritos in California, many of these ingredients are the standard and I applaud Tia Cori’s Tacos on their inclusion of them.

My taco was great and although some people might mention that I mixed American and Mexican ingredients together, it still created a delicious carne asada taco. The lime added some moisture to the meat and the flavor of the carne asada really came through with the hard shell taco. The flavor of the meat was a little masked in the burrito with all the other ingredients and the taco allowed me to enjoy the meat thoroughly. Everything tasted fresh.

My friend ordered their tamale, which looked very appetizing. I would like to try it on a future visit. My friend was very satisfied with it.

The Mexican style taco includes onions, cilantro & lime and is 50 cents cheaper than the American style which includes lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and sour cream.

Their tostada ($3.50) includes a choice of meat  and beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and avocado. Again the inclusion of avocado is something I was quite pleased to see during my visit to Tia Cori’s.

Overall, I was really impressed with Tia Cori’s Tacos and began to wish this place was closer to home. They are open until 10PM on weekdays and 3AM on Friday and Saturday nights and I don’t think any future visit to Daytona Beach would be complete with stopping by here and trying something on the menu. Tia Cori’s Tacos was oddly enough one of the most memorable parts of my trip to Daytona Beach.

Tia Cori's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: Tia Cori’s Tacos

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 214 North Beach Street Daytona Beach, FL 32114

Phone Number: (386) 947-4333

Website: http://www.tiacoristacos.com/

California Tacos

California Tacos is part of my USF Dining Guide.

California Tacos is a true taco stand in every sense of the name. Most people don’t know what to make of the exterior. It looks like it was shipped from Southern California and dropped on Bearss Ave. in Tampa, Florida. The name “California” itself drew me to this place because California is known for quality food and after a few Tampa Yelpers reviewed the location with positive reviews I decided to try it out for myself.

Upon parking I found myself staring at a taco stand with only a few tables and chairs around. This place was going to be a completely different experience then the Taco Bus. I was greeted by a man at the cashier window and he asked me if it was my first time. When I responded yes I was provided some surfer munchies (carrots and various other veggies) while I waited on my order. I decided to order their California Burrito with Carne Asada inside (around $8 or $9 with guacamole and sour cream). The thought of having french fries inside a burrito blew my mind. When I tasted it though I was so impressed.

The taste is completely different from anything you have probably had anywhere else. Nothing like Moes, Chipotle, TJ Flats, or authentic Mexican joints like the Taco Bus. The cheeses are clearly American cheeses (tasted like cheddar), but somehow it was just amazing. The steak wasn’t seasoned like Vallartas or Taco Bus, but man it was still good. The french fries, which had blown my mind actually tasted amazing inside a burrito. It’s like when you put onion rings in your burger for the first time or first dipped french fries in your ice cream…an unknown genius thought.

The Horchata was actually made very well. The perfect amount of sweetness, I think sometimes Taco Bus has too much cinnamon sweet taste, but California Tacos does it just right. The drink size is unfortunately smaller.

Delicious tacos! Too bad they aren’t bigger.

On my next visit I had their Tijuana Tacos (3 for $3), which are like miniature tacos with their pork. They are simply heavenly. The man at the stand wasn’t lying when he said they would leave me wanting more. I ordered two and then still decided to try their Tasty Tostada ($2.79), a huge tostada that maybe I should not have ordered because man I was going to gain some weight eating all this good food. Regardless, I was glad I tried both and after trying them I became confidant that this place deserves attention and love for making all this good food.

Their tostadas are loaded. Full of ingredients and tastes great, but hard to grab because of all the ingredients…make sure you grab a fork!

To rate this restaurant against the Taco Bus or any Mexican restaurant is simply unfair (though comparison works due to some similarities). The meats have the same names, but have different (and interestingly good) tastes. The Southern California style is something I am unfamiliar with as I was a Northern California former resident, but I am impressed with their quality of food and will happily visit California Tacos many times in the future.

California Tacos To Go on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: California Tacos

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 1450 Skipper Rd. Tampa, FL 33613

Neighborhood: USF

Phone Number: (813) 971-8226

Website: http://www.californiatacostogo.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/California-Tacos/75129943307?ref=ts

THE Tampa Taco Bus

The Taco Bus in Tampa is like a landmark…people are always there and it has over 500 ratings on Urbanspoon and 80 Yelp reviews, which is a huge number for this city. Foursquare shows check-ins even into the wee hours of the morning. A 24-hour taco truck is a godsend to this city where restaurants start to close up shop around 10pm on weekends. They have a great menu with a variety of choices and ingredients; several beverages as well, there is nothing that someone cannot love about the Taco Bus.

If the Taco Bus was in California, it would be just another taco truck…but it has successfully done correctly what I have often pondered was missing in Tampa: authentic tasting Mexican food. Anyone who is from California or some other state heavily populated with Mexican people knows that the majority of the places in Tampa or Florida that claim to be “Mexican” restaurants are actually using canned beans, pre-made rice, and no actual Mexican ingredients.

Everything from the cheese to the seasoning on the meat at the Taco Bus tastes like real Mexican food, and although the style is slightly different from what I’m used to in Northern California, Taco Bus still makes an authentic meal that I can actually enjoy. Their Carne Asada tastes great and I have tried their tacos, burritos, and recently I finally gave their quesadillas a shot. I wasn’t disappointed.

My friends burrito. I like my burritos with Carne Asada and some refried beans/sour cream.

The quesadilla ($4.99) was pressed perfectly to be crunchy and with all the ingredients warmed to the right temperature.

The inside of my quesadilla looked amazing. Plenty of cheese, tomatoes, chicken, and onions.

I also get their horchata on every visit. Although their horchata tastes a little different then how I prefer it, it still tastes great and you get a ton of horchata for just a few bucks. Usually the food comes out quick and although lines get long they move pretty quickly. There is plenty of space inside and outside to eat as well. I am in love with the Taco Bus and would totally wear one of their t-shirts if I had more money.

They are opening a Taco Bus out in St. Petersburg and now all I can do is hope they bring one out to Brandon!

Taco Bus on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Name: Taco Bus

Cuisine: Mexican

Address: 913 E. Hillsborough Ave, Tampa FL 33604

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Phone Number: (813)232-5889

Website: http://tampatacobus.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Taco-Bus/151303904885189

Twitter: @TacoBusTampa