After visiting Taco Bell in 15 different countries, I was sure that I held the world record for “Visits to Taco Bell in the Most Countries”. Well, it turns out that the Guinness Book of World Records determined that this was not a record worth pursuing (seriously?? Have you SEEN some of the stuff they give out records for?) but whatever its their loss. So I’m sharing with you some of the best, some of the worst, and everything in between when it comes to going to Taco Bell around the world.
Chinese Taco Bell is, in my opinion, the best Taco Bell on Earth. You can only find them in Shanghai but it’s definitely worth the trek for the amazing meal items you can find. I tried the Crayfish Taco which was pretty decent, but the Sesame Chicken Burrito was life changing. Not even kidding. They also have one of the best beer selections in good sizes (not the tiny little cups that some locations offer) and in real glasses! Also on their menu is the shrimp avocado burrito which the internet seems to think is part of Taco Bell Japan but definitely is not.
Seriously, the locations are large, clean, easy to understand for foreigners (multiple languages and pictures everywhere) and super friendly. Treat yourself to a delicious unique Taco Bell experience and go to Taco Bell China.
2. South Korea
Visiting South Korea means you will find kimchi pretty much everywhere, and Korean Taco Bell is no exception. In addition to the standard (although slightly small) menu you would expect at any other location throughout the world, you can try a Kimchi Crunchwrap along with a Cass or Kloud beer. Be sure to also check out items from their new breakfast menu, which includes a Fried Egg Crunchwrap, Cheese Egg Quesadilla, and Grande Morning Burrito. Their menu changes frequently, adding new sauces or items with fried chicken.
The fried chicken is just the regular American variety though, and it seems like a massive missed opportunity to not serve some variation of Korean Fried Chicken (if you know, you know) with their menu as let’s be real, it’s the absolute best type of fried chicken you could ever have. Korean Taco Bell was one of the early adopters of unique menu items so hopefully they will continue to build a more Korean menu at their locations.
One of the main reasons I even went to Cyprus in the first place was because of their Taco Bell menu. First of all, I’m incredibly happy to get fries with any meal regardless of where I am or what I am ordering. But there is something about fries in Greek-style cuisine that is just extra magical. Seriously- how are they just so much better? But secondly, the Cypriot Taco Bell menu includes gems like the Greek Burrito (pictured), Caesar Burrito, Greek Crunchwrap, Halloumi Veggie Crunchwrap, and more. Even a Banurrito (banana and chocolate wrapped in a tortilla) is offered in Cyprus!
The brand is still growing in the country and isn’t available in a ton of places, but with these sorts of offerings it seems like only a matter of time until you can find Taco Bell locations all over Cyprus.
Spain has the largest amount of Taco Bell locations outside of the United States. They are easy to find and to use, with large interiors and easy to understand kiosks where you can order in multiple languages. Additionally, the beer found at Spanish Taco Bell is pretty good and actually available on tap in either small or large sizes! Most locations throughout the world only stick to one size (if offered at all). Great items like the Burrito Bowl, Crunchywrap (I like this name!), and different salads, tacos, and other items are offered. Nothing is super crazy or unique, however, which is a shame considering how popular the chain is in Spain.
The biggest disappointment would be one of the only “unique” items you can find- the Kit Kat Chocodilla. This dessert item is made of slightly melted Kit Kats places in a small tortilla, aaaaand that’s it. Nothing else. No care placed in making this an actual fun dessert to try. Just confusion and disappointment. So skip that and enjoy one of the other items available.
Wow. Just wow. I visited the location in Antigua so I don’t think the others in the country will look quite the same, but this one was just fantastic to sit in and experience. Most of the regular menu items are available, and the only disappointment is that there is no beer offered as Guatemala is a great spot for craft beers.
The Chocodilla is much better than its Spanish Kit Kat counterpart, and the space is built in a traditional colonial setting. It’s a peaceful respite from the bustling Old Town streets, and a great way to add Taco Bell to your Central American adventures.
I wouldn’t say that I was particularly excited about paying $7 for a Corona, but it felt like it was necessary to add to the order. Would I do it again? Nope. But anyway…
I’d certainly order the vegan burrito and churro (not vegan) again! I enjoy vegan foods, but I don’t normally like weird meat substitutions. This time was different though, as the ground beef substitute had a great flavor and texture, and matched well with the veggies in the burrito. I visited Helsinki during December when it was cold and snowy, and the burrito was freshly grilled and piping hot- a perfect treat to warm up with.
The rest of their menu is fairly standard, with Naked Chicken Tacos and Chalupas still available, as I know a lot of American locations stopped serving them. So if your local Taco Bell won’t serve them, at least you know they are still available at Finnish Taco Bell!
7. Costa Rica
If you check the date of the receipt in the picture, you can see that it’s been quite a while since my first visit to Costa Rican Taco Bell, but this was the visit that started it all. As my first international Taco Bell destination, I was curious to see what the world has to offer in different Bell locations.
The Crunchwrap was a bit smaller but still fresh and delicious, and the Fiesta Fries were a fun thing to try. Subsequent visits to Tico Taco Bell would include things like the new Monster Fries Burrito, Flauta Dulce con Oreo, and Gallo Pinto Crunchwraps. The menu rotates so these options aren’t always offered, but if you can get to a location in Liberia or San Jose it’s totally worth it.
Just like locations in other Central American countries, it’s definitely a bummer that they don’t serve local craft beers as they are commonly found in these countries and would make an awesome addition to any Taco Bell menu.
9. The United States of America
The USA is the birthplace of Taco Bell, and where you will find by far the most locations to visit. From seaside cantinas to malls to fancy automated mega-locations, there is always a new location to check out. There is even a Taco Bell wedding chapel in Las Vegas (along with an alcohol-heavy location on the Strip) and for a brief time, a Taco Bell Hotel in the desert. This particular location pictured was in Chicago, where you can order beers along with your food. Alcohol is not a guaranteed offering at American locations, in fact it will most likely not be available wherever you visit.
The Green Chile Burrito and Cheesy Fiesta Fries went with a Modelo, which wasn’t actually my first choice of beer. Nor was it my second. In fact, the only reason they poured it for me was because the tap handles for the other two had been stolen by a random drunk person who had stopped in to take them as souvenirs. Seemed pretty fitting for Chicago I guess.
The downside to American Taco Bells is that they won’t get as creative with some of their offerings, and quality varies wildly between locations. You really don’t know what you are in for when trying a new spot, and not in a good way. It wouldn’t hurt them to start offering some of the international menu items periodically, or to at least fix the issues at some of their lower-standard stores.
It IS worth mentioning, however, that Taco Bells in the US are the only ones (to my knowledge) that offer Mountain Dew’s Baja Blast. And that alone makes these franchises worth a visit.
Did you excitedly go to the Taco Bell in Shibuya, ready to try a Shrimp and Avocado Burrito because the internet told you it was there? It isn’t. It never was.
Now, obviously you can wash your sorrows away with some (pricey) draft beers and a fairly standard Taco Bell menu, but it’s ok to still be disappointed. The fun menu item that you were looking for was actually just a promotional item when Taco Bell first opened on the American military bases on Japan… and was only available for anyone with base access.
The locations are clean, friendly, and not a bad place to go, but Japanese Taco Bell is missing out on a massive opportunity here. Make a ramen burrito, or a Crunchwrap in an onigiri style (wrapped in seaweed, not a tortilla). Offer burritos with pictures of Pokemon characters grilled on the sides. Even just offer a side of sushi. Literally anything to give the chain a Japanese twist. Other American chains in Japan like Starbucks and McDonald’s have figured out how to localize their menus so it’s really frustrating to see Taco Bell pass up such an easy opportunity.
O well. At least you can get a frozen margarita with your burrito.
Lima, Peru is known as the food capitol of Latin America. So you might be too busy checking out other restaurants in the city instead of running to Taco Bell. While that’s definitely understandable, don’t completely write off the chance to experience Peruvian Taco Bell.
While the menu itself isn’t super unique, the location in Miraflores makes its own sauces in house which is completely different than any other location I have been to. While the normal sauce packets are great and even have somewhat of a cult following, this chance for fresh and spicy sauce was an unexpected delight added to the already fun experience.
It pains me to place Chilean Taco Bell so far down the list, but it’s unfortunately necessary. The country, while absolutely beautiful and friendly and fun and safe and everything you could want as a tourist, does not like spicy food. At all. Now think of the least spicy food you know, and then make it even less spicy. That’s the level of heat that Chileans like.
And while that doesn’t have to necessarily mean less flavor, that’s what it turns into at Taco Bell Chile. When I asked for hot sauce they gave me one packet cautiously, and when I asked for more they reluctantly did but kept telling me to be super careful because it can get very spicy very fast.
The little fried cheese pockets were fun but definitely needed more sauce, and the Crunchwrap was just too plain. I love Chile. I love Taco Bell. I wanted to make this work. I tried multiple locations over the course of several months. The fact is simply that it isn’t going to live up to foreigner standards, but I will give them credit for appealing to their local population.
Panama City is another Latin American gastronomic hub, but this time their Taco Bell wasn’t as cool or interesting as other neighboring countries. This location was a random spot in a strip mall, which I suppose would be fairly normal in the US, but if you are looking to go when a store is supposed to open, be prepared to wait. Their posted time on the door seemed to be more of a suggestion, but they finally opened and I got the first burrito of the day which was still cold. It LOOKS like it was grilled, but if it was it wasn’t for long at all.
Seriously Taco Bell, heat up your food. Especially if I am the first and only customer, I’m not sure what else is taking up your time. The upside was that the service was very friendly and they had open and clean restrooms which are not super easy to find in Panama City. This is also yet another disappointment in the fact that they don’t serve beer and I suggest that if you are visiting the city, grab some Taco Bell and bring it to a brewery, or visit the Bell after brewery hopping.
14. El Salvador
This would have been a lot higher on the list if it weren’t for the atrocious service. I went in and couldn’t believe that they had Doritos Locos Tacos (outside of the US??? So awesome!) so I went up and ordered:
“Dos Doritos Locos tacos y dos flautas, por favor”.
The guy behind the counter LOUDLY groans and in English, yells:
“UGHHH I am SO SICK of people coming here trying to *pRaCtIcE tHeiR SpAnIsH* JUST ORDER IN ENGLISH!”
Shocked, I then said “uhhh two Doritos Locos tacos and two flautas…. please”.
“SEE? ISN’T THAT BETTER? Ughhhh what do you want to drink?”
I decided to then answer “cerveza” to which he calmly grabbed a bottle from the wall cooler behind him (did he already forget about his “no Spanish” rule?”, finished ringing up my order, and I went to another counter to wait for my food. The food was decent, beer was a little warm, but I really just wanted to quickly eat and leave.
I have no idea what just happened with that guy, but apparently saying “dos” and “por favor” was just too much for him. So thanks, Taco Bell cashier, I hope you felt so much better about yourself after that. You clearly needed it.
Finally, the worst international Taco Bell location I have found so far. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s just the location I visited, and the others are great. But in this case, I don’t want to keep trying.
The tacos were cold, limp, and old. The soda was warm. The churro was cold and mushy. The service was bored and indifferent. They couldn’t be bothered to get me a freshly made taco, or even a cup of ice for the soda. It’s cool that they had Coke Zero with Lime though.
There are multiple locations in a few different cities in Romania, and this one was in a pretty upscale mall in the capitol of Bucharest. Restaurants and shops in general in Bucharest were really either super great or absolutely terrible, so maybe that’s just the luck of the draw in the city. Other cities were more pleasant to visit, so if you find yourself in a Taco Bell somewhere besides this one, go for it. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.