Friday, September 21, 2018
Food

America’s favorite Mexican restaurant is apparently Taco Bell

And Americaís favorite Mexican restaurant is ....

Taco Bell?

Sure, it sounds like a headline from The Onion, but a new survey from the Harris Poll EquiTrend Study finds that, indeed, Taco Bell beats out the likes of Chipotle, Moeís Southwest Grill, Baja Fresh and Del Taco to win Americaís hearts.

But letís be clear: These are big chain restaurants that donít really compete with any of the great local Mexican places around the country -- including here in the Tampa Bay area.

In fact, our critic recently asked:

Are tacos the new burgers? A slew of new taco-centric places in Tampa Bay makes the case.

And donít forget about our Top 50 restaurants of Tampa Bay.

Anyway ... back to Nachos Bellgrandes.

Harris, which conducted the study of Americaís favorite Mexican restaurant, said itís the first time Taco Bell has won "Brand of the Year" since the study launched 30 years ago.

The study "measures the overall health of a brand by asking consumers questions based on three variables ó familiarity, quality and future consideration. The results are aggregated into a one-number score."

Moeís won the last two years. Chipotle was No. 1 prior to that, but "its standing was severely impacted by various outbreaks of foodborne illnesses," Harris notes. "The fast casual and health-conscious chain experienced a 10.7 point drop in 2016 because of the negative sentiment surrounding the brand."

And give Taco Bell some credit. It has shown signs of innovation in recent years, including breakfast and what Harris calls "creative selections like Mexican Crispy Chicken Pizza and the Naked Egg Taco."

Meanwhile, Taco Bellís launch of Nacho Fries earlier this year "was the most successful product launch in Taco Bellís history," Harris notes.

"Taco Bellís marketing is ubiquitous so it wasnít surprising to me that they came out on top this year. Itís not so much that Moeís or Chipotle are falling off the map. Taco Bell has just been a stronger brand as of late, as demonstrated by the strong familiarity and consideration marks," said Amir Kanpurwala, the director of the survey.

The study is based on a sample of 77,031 U.S. consumers at least 15 years old surveyed online, in English, this year from Jan. 3 to Feb. 15.

Comments
Franklin on Twiggs restaurant opens in former downtown Tampa Pita Pit location

Franklin on Twiggs restaurant opens in former downtown Tampa Pita Pit location

DOWNTOWN — After a falling out with the Pita Pit corporate offices, Andrew Turek, the former owner of the SoHo location sold the property to Shula Burger and decided to open a new eatery and market called Franklin on Twiggs in the former downt...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

Bar review: Punk meets Pilsner at Antibrewery in Dunedin

Iíve had readers jokingly complain that Iíve exposed their off-the-radar watering holes that already are a carful away from becoming overcrowded. Itís like watching your favorite indie band achieve mainstream success: Itís good for them, but now youí...
Published: 09/20/18
Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

Five ideas for date-night dinners at home

For your next date night with your significant other, try staying in and cooking together. Meals eaten with your loved one are always sweeter. Literally."When we are in love Ö food tastes better," said Rachel Herz, an adjunct professor of psychiatry ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Bill’s Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIA Chris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hy...
Published: 09/19/18
Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

Swizzle it: The tool bartenders turn to for a certain kind of cocktail

TAMPA It’s a long stick with an irregular claw at the end, something a little macabre, like a skeletal monkey arm or a ritual tool made out of a chicken foot. It is crafted from the wood of the Quararibea turbinata tree, an aromatic and perenn...
Published: 09/19/18
What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

What’s that bug gunk on your car? There’s an app for that

Florida is rich in biomass. It’s got a lot of bugs. You’re driving down the highway, and all of a sudden — splat — a bug smacks your windshield, leaving a gooey glob on the glass. That’s the end of it from the bug’...
Published: 09/18/18
Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

Pumpkin spice haters, back off: It’s okay to crave the seasonal flavor

All right, okay, enough, I get it: You all hate pumpkin spice. But I’ve got one request as we head into fall: Can you just let us have this? There are many things on which to heap anger and despair right now, but please, that thing does not n...
Published: 09/18/18
A brown rice salad with asparagus thatís a hearty side dish

A brown rice salad with asparagus thatís a hearty side dish

This fresh, hearty side dish will stand out among its richer, creamier counterparts when the holidays roll around. We achieved perfectly cooked brown rice by boiling it in abundant water. Sprinkling the rice with bright lemon juice while it was still...
Published: 09/18/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

Tampa Bay chefs get fresh platform at Bucs home games

TAMPA ó It was almost like a sitcom spit take. People in Buccaneers-red and Eagles-midnight green would walk up to the makeshift kitchen in the West Stadium Club, look at the huge poster of chef/restaurateur John Rivers, then glance at the guy in the...
Published: 09/17/18