I know more than anyone that when the news hit Las Vegas that our city would be home to the first Taco Bell restaurant (the Taco Bell Cantina), everyone went into a frenzy. All my friends and I were excited to find out that we would be a mere couple miles away from the home of the Taco Bell Cantina: located on Harmon Corner on the Las Vegas Strip.

And, after being open since late last year, we have finally found time in our college lives to trek on over to the much avoided (if you are a local) Las Vegas Strip and dedicated a much needed dinner to the nostalgic Taco Bell. By my side were two friends who also grew up on Taco Bell and had expectations for greatness.

The Atmosphere

Jasmine Lim

The decor was appropriate for a Taco Bell restaurant. Giving off an atmosphere of a modern, casual place to kickback at with a couple of friends. The restaurant was not nearly as big as I expected, but for a place on the Las Vegas Strip I quickly realized that I should not be surprised

wine, coffee, beer
Jasmine Lim
chocolate, beer, candy
Jasmine Lim

Although cozy, the Taco Bell Cantina still housed a nice open patio space to eat at as well as an upstairs area to relax. Fair warning, the upstairs seating area holds you hostage to excessively loud "background" music that prevents you from hearing or understanding most of what your friends may say.

The Taco Bell Cantina also comes equipped with a large view of the kitchen where the employees are hurriedly scrambling all our orders together. Also included is the Taco Shop where you can find various Taco Bell paraphernalia to purchase for all your Sin City whims. 

The Order

liquor, alcohol, wine, beer
Jasmine Lim

Ordering the food was of average fast food speed, despite the line that seemed to appear out of nowhere. And although it did seem to have decent foot traffic, there was not an overwhelming crowd - at least not for a Tuesday night.

However, make sure you bring you 20/20 vision because the menu's font is especially small and there are not any mini menus for you to grab to spare your deteriorating eyesight.

coffee, beer, wine
Jasmine Lim

The food came out in an appropriate time of about 10 minutes, give or take. And the food comes out in small trays that are able to hold the feast fit for Taco Bell kings and queens. You also get to use these creative draft beer inspired soda dispensers to fill up your drink cups.

The Food 

Jasmine Lim

For our feast we ordered two plates from their "Sharables" category: Jalapeño Poppers and the Chicken Tenders. We also added to our order a Naked Chicken Chalupa Box, the Mexican Pizza Combo, and a Baja Blast.  

The Baja Blast is a classic that they offer an exciting alternative for: alcohol. However, considering it was an additional $10, as broke college students we decided to take a pass on that tempting deal. 

The Jalapeño Poppers were disappointing in comparison to the Chicken Tenders Sharables as it contained pickled jalapeños. The chicken tenders were a pleasant surprise as they came out hot and crispy - something you would expect from a sit-down restaurant. 

dairy product, sauce, nachos, cheese, tomato, vegetable
Jasmine Lim
Jasmine Lim

As for the Naked Chicken Chalupa Box and the Mexican Pizza Combo, we found the taco shells to be more crunchy and the lettuce to be more fresh than the typical Taco Bell meal. The Naked Chicken Chalupa was also extremely crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. 

Jasmine Lim

Overall, the Taco Bell Cantina would be a success in terms of quality. The only downsides to our meal were the jalapeño poppers and the fact that they did seem to skimp on the shredded cheese usually atop their tacos...

I have to say though, that if you are expecting gourmet, DON'T. This is all in all still a Taco Bell. The three stars on Yelp make sense if you truly are expecting a sit-down dinner experience from the Taco Bell Cantina, but I must warn you that the Taco Bell Cantina is less like a restaurant and more like a fast-casual dining experience.