No, Taco Bell Doesn't Exist In Mexico

When a craving for Mexican food strikes, Taco Bell might not be the first restaurant most people would elect to satisfy it. Yes, the fast food chain serves Mexican-inspired food, but you won't find authentic dishes that represent the country's culture on the menu. From Cheesy Gordita Crunches to Crunchwrap Supremes, Taco Bell's menu proves that the chain is always looking for a new way to stuff a tortilla. Different combinations of meat, cheese, beans, and rice have anchored the fast food restaurant's menu since its inception in 1962. This American interpretation of Mexican food now has a foothold in over 30 countries, but Mexico is not one of them.

Taco Bell has twice attempted to break into the Mexican market — first in 1992 and again in 2007. During the period of time between those two efforts, the chain released the popular Gordita, introduced Baja Blast soda, and launched the Crunchwrap Supreme. Those lasting developments, however, did nothing to impress the Mexican audience, which met each inception of Taco Bell with confusion and distaste. If you're traveling in Mexico and looking for some familiar American fast food, you'll have to head toward a McDonalds or some other American chain because there will be no Taco Bell in sight.

Taco Bell couldn't sustain stores in Mexico

The first time Taco Bell tried to open in Mexico City, it started small with a street cart inside of a KFC, which was owned by PepsiCo, as was Taco Bell. Its menu was different than American Taco Bell menus, and it tried to offer more traditional Mexican food. But the attempt was met with contempt. Better, cheaper versions of the same food could be found nearby. Taco Bell opened more locations in the country, all of which closed within two years.

When it tried again 15 years later, opening up adjacent to Dairy Queen in Monterrey, its strategy was different. Instead of pretending to be an authentic taqueria, Taco Bell pivoted. Execs thought that standing out from the cultural landscape by admitting to selling American cuisine, even adding french fries to its menu, would make the chain successful. Its motto was es otra cosa, which translates to "it's something else." But whatever it was, Mexicans weren't buying it. 

Customers were unfamiliar with popular Taco Bell menu items from the U.S. — crunchy tacos don't really exist there — leading the chain to rename the dishes. The food wasn't what they were used to because it was made with frozen American ground beef. Taco Bell planned to open 300 locations in Mexico, but that never occurred. Stores shuttered for many of the same reasons they failed the first time. Since then, Taco Bell has taken the hint and forayed into other countries instead.