Let me start by saying I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be writing a blog post about Taco Bell, but here I am!
This month marked a milestone for the Netherlands — the grand opening of the country’s first Taco Bell! And, the best part is that the first one in the country is in Eindhoven — the city where I live half of the year when I’m not in Belize.
It may sound funny to be so excited about a random fast food joint from the US, but I literally grew up at Taco Bell. Most kids begged their parents for McDonalds and/or pizza growing up — for me it was Taco Bell — and as often as I could. Even now, it’s my first stop whenever I fly into the US to see my parents in Los Angeles. I recognize there is nothing authentic when it comes to being traditional Mexican food, but it’s comfort food for me. Taco Bell brings back very fond memories of my grandparents, summers by the pool, and my best friends.
When I heard there was going to be a Taco Bell in Eindhoven, I was determined to be here for the opening. Multiple delays and rescheduling left things up in the air on when it would open. Without even planning, I ended up being here this month, so we headed into town to check it out on April 4th.
I wasn’t sure what to expect line-wise since I heard the recent opening of Dunkin’ Donuts in Amsterdam drew a line of 15 hours! 15 hours for donuts! Fortunately, the line for the new Taco Bell ended up being under an hour — still never imagined in my entire life I’d be standing in line an hour for Taco Bell. Three cars in the drive thru back in the US and I’m letting out an exasperated sigh.
So what is Taco Bell like in the Netherlands?
It’s quite a departure from what I’m used to in the US, but I am not all that surprised. McDonalds around the world are extremely diverse in their offerings, and I learned the hard way that KFC in Taiwan doesn’t even sell mashed potatoes. Saddest day!
Netherlands Taco Bell Menu
The biggest difference is the menu — everything from the items offered to the fact they sell beer, it’s not your usual Taco Bell. The name of the game here is all about the combo. There are six combos and six a la carte items. On the combos, it’s a four step ordering process:
- Choose your combo
- Choose your meat: spicy chicken, ground beef, grilled chicken, pulled pork, or refried beans
- Choose your sauce: Mild, Hot, or Fire
- Choose your side: Nachos or Fries and your drink
It was cool to see the freedom to order whatever you wanted with your meat of preference, but not putting on your own sauce was a bit of a turn off. I know that sauce packets, well condiments in general, aren’t things you find in fast food restaurants here in Holland. Basically, nothing is complimentary. You want ketchup or mayonnaise, you pay for it most places. And here, if you wanted nacho cheese for your “nachos,” you better order it and pay an extra Euro.
There are two dessert items, but we didn’t try either. A chocodilla, which looks like a chocolate quesadilla, and cinnamon tostadas, which look like tortilla chips with chocolate sauce drizzled on top.
I think the biggest surprise for me was the prices. For two combos, a bean burrito, regular taco, and one drink upgraded to a beer, it was 20 Euros — for that amount, my parents and I can chow down — with drinks — at a Taco Bell in California.
Taco Bell Europe Food Quality
Other than being somewhat disappointed by the bean burrito, the food was pretty darn good. My issue with the bean burrito was that the beans had a bit of a burnt taste and there was no sauce, despite ordering it with sauce. The crunchy taco was pretty spot on, although I still would’ve preferred to put on my sauce when ready as it got soggy. The crunchwrap supreme was really tasty with the spicy chicken. I also had a bite of the grilled stuft burrito with pulled pork. I had several people ask me about the chips on the side — they reminded me of homemade Doritos. We didn’t know there was no sauce or anything included, so we went back to order cheese sauce and guacamole, so in theory the total for dinner was 23 Euros for two people.
In general, most of the menu items are things I never order at Taco Bell, so it’s a bit hard to compare. I’m a creature of habit and I miss my bean tostada. The tortillas tasted really fresh and everything tasted fresher than I expected. Other people looked extremely happy and I even saw a few people going back to order more food!
Taco Bell Culture in Eindhoven
It’s definitely a different vibe at the Taco Bell here in Eindhoven. It was interesting to hear the opening team (which seems to be from headquarters in the US) ask if people had ever been to a Taco Bell before. Most of the people around us were younger, probably college students, and not one person I heard them ask said yes. Mexican food in general is pretty much non-existent here in Holland, and what I have seen has looked, well, terrible. So I don’t even bother eating it here, as I’m obviously spoiled growing up with authentic Mexican food everywhere around me in Los Angeles.
I’d expect nothing less being the middle of a very design-oriented city, but the layout and design of the Taco Bell here is hip and inviting. Rather than the somewhat sterile interiors of fast food restaurants back home, this had a more lounge type atmosphere. I could see college kids hanging out on the couch for a while after eating. It’s two stories, but doesn’t necessarily have a large seating area.
Taco Bell History
One nice touch they added, which may not mean much to local kids who don’t know the history of Taco Bell, is the addition of historic photos of the first Taco Bell in Downey, California. I grew up near there and lived where the second Taco Bell was built. Taco Bell’s headquarters were close to us and the family lived in the general area, so Taco Bell was really more than just a chain fast food joint for me.
If you’re wanting to visit Taco Bell in the Netherlands – you won’t find the same late night hours as you do in the US. Sadly, Taco Bell in Eindhoven is only open from 11am until 9pm daily — including Sundays!