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Taco Bell Original Menu

Do you like Taco Bell? If so, have you ever pondered what the Taco Bell menu looked like when it first came out? Since the company’s modest beginnings in 1962, a lot has changed for the fast food industry. Initially, there were only a few options on the short menu, and each dish was only 19 cents.

Horizontal, medium shot of Taco Bell fast food restaurant's exterior

In Downey, California, the first Taco Bell restaurant debuted with a menu that comprised tacos, burritos, frijoles (beans and cheese), and tostados.

Tacos continue to be the most popular of these traditional cuisines, with burritos coming in a close second.

The original menu reflected the founder’s goal of making accessible and delectable meals with Mexican influences for the general public.

Taco Bell’s menu expanded along with the chain’s popularity. There are several selections available today, including breakfast foods, vegetarian and vegan options, and even a secret menu.

The original menu, though, is nonetheless a fascinating piece of fast-food history and a monument to the chain’s origins.

Origins of Taco Bell

Glen Bell, who had previously operated a hot dog stand and a hamburger stand, created Taco Bell in 1962.

Box set of tasty taco, nachos, and cup of drink served in retail background of taco bell restaurant

“Taco-Tia” was the name of Bell’s first taco shop, which was situated in San Bernardino, California.

Bell, however, decided to build the first Taco Bell in Downey, California after realizing that he might increase his profits by franchising his taco stand.

Initially, Taco Bell only had tacos, tostadas, frijoles (refried beans), and chiliburgers on its menu.

The tacos had a hard shell and were filled with cheese, lettuce, and ground beef that had been seasoning.

Refried beans, lettuce, and cheese were added to tostadas, which also had a hard shell. The soft buns used to make the chiliburgers were stuffed with chili, cheese, and onions.

Customers flocked to the menu because they liked the good cuisine and the reasonable rates.

As Taco Bell’s popularity expanded, so did the menu; in fact, the tacos’ early patrons referred to them as “Tay-Kohs.”

The “Bell Burger” and the “Bell Beefer” were new additions to the menu at Bell, and later the “Crunchwrap Supreme” and “Doritos Locos Tacos,” which are now well-known.

Today, Taco Bell operates over 7,000 restaurants in 190 countries. The tacos and tostadas from the original menu are still mainstays on the menu, though.

Even though the menu has grown over the years, Taco Bell’s primary goal is to give its customers access to reasonably priced, delectable meals.

The Original Menu

Taco Bell didn’t have nearly as many selections on its menu when it first opened its doors in 1962 as it does now.

First branch of Taco Bell, a famous Mexican-American food,

There were only a few things on the initial menu, and they were all provided in a straightforward manner.

The menu included tostados, which are similar to the tostadas on the Taco Bell menu today, frijoles (also known as beans and cheese), tacos, which are still Taco Bell’s top-selling item, burritos, and tacos.

Everything was vintage, and it was all only 19 cents.

Like most fast food restaurants, the original menu wasn’t very extensive and didn’t often include multiple pages.

Even though the menu and ingredients were straightforward, the food was well-liked by consumers.

What was available on the original Taco Bell menu is shown below:

  • Tacos: As mentioned, tacos were the star of the show. These tacos were made with a crispy shell, ground beef, lettuce, and cheese. They were simple, yet delicious.
  • Burritos: The burritos were also made with ground beef, beans, and cheese, and wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.
  • Frijoles: Frijoles were a simple side dish of Mexican beans topped with cheese.
  • Tostados: Tostados were made with a crispy tortilla shell, refried beans, and cheese.

In general, the original Taco Bell menu served as proof that sometimes, less really is more.

Although the menu has undoubtedly grown over time, it’s good to reflect on how straightforward the early dishes were.

Signature Dishes

There were only a handful of iconic items on the menu when Taco Bell initially started in 1962, and those dishes are still well-liked today.

taco bell burritos

Some of the initial items that are still available on the Taco Bell menu are listed below:

  • Tacos: The original Taco Bell tacos were made with a hard corn shell, seasoned beef, lettuce, and cheese. They quickly became the most popular item on the menu and remain so to this day.
  • Burritos: The original Taco Bell burritos were made with refried beans, seasoned beef, and red sauce, wrapped in a soft flour tortilla. They are still a popular choice, with many variations available today.
  • Frijoles: Frijoles, or beans and cheese, were a simple side dish that was served with every meal. They are still available on the menu today, usually as a side dish or as part of a combo meal.
  • Tostados: Tostados were similar to the tostada on the Taco Bell menu today. They were made with a crispy corn tortilla, refried beans, lettuce, and cheese.

As you can see, the original Taco Bell menu was quite condensed and featured tasty and reasonably priced traditional Mexican cuisine.

Taco Bell’s menu has grown to include a wide range of things today, but its signature dishes are still a mainstay.

Changes Over Time

To adapt to the evolving interests of its customers, Taco Bell has made considerable menu adjustments throughout the years.

Chicken Taco served in soft taco. Taco Bell

Here are a few of the significant changes that have occurred:

  • 1980s and 1990s: During this period, Taco Bell introduced several new items to its menu, including the Crunchwrap Supreme, the Gordita, and the Chalupa. These items quickly became fan favorites and helped to establish Taco Bell as a go-to destination for fast food.
  • 2000s: In the early 2000s, Taco Bell introduced the “Think Outside the Bun” campaign, which focused on promoting the chain’s non-taco items. This campaign led to the introduction of several new items, including the Quesadilla, the Nachos BellGrande, and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch.
  • 2010s: In the 2010s, Taco Bell continued to innovate with new menu items, such as the Doritos Locos Tacos, which featured a taco shell made from Doritos chips. The chain also introduced a breakfast menu in 2014, which included items like the Waffle Taco and the A.M. Crunchwrap.
  • 2020s: In recent years, Taco Bell has made some significant changes to its menu in response to changing consumer preferences. In 2020, the chain announced that it would be streamlining its menu to focus on its most popular items. This meant that some less popular items, such as the Mexican Pizza, were removed from the menu.

Despite these modifications, fast food fans continue to frequent Taco Bell.

Taco Bell has something for everyone, whether you’re craving a traditional taco or something a little more novel.

Frequently Asked Questions

First TACO BELL branch in Thailand at The Mercury Ville

What was on the original Taco Bell menu?

The original Taco Bell menu was quite simple. It featured tacos, burritos, frijoles (beans and cheese), and tostados. Everything was classic and cost just 19 cents.

What was the most popular item on the original menu?

The most popular item on the original menu was the taco, which is still Taco Bell’s number one seller today. The burrito was the second most popular item.

Was there anything unique or unusual on the original menu?

Yes! In addition to the classic items, the original Taco Bell menu featured a chili burger, which cost just 19 cents. It was a unique item that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Are any of the items from the original menu still available today?

Yes, many of the items from the original menu are still available today. You can still order tacos, burritos, and tostados at Taco Bell. However, the prices have gone up a bit since 1962!

How has the Taco Bell menu changed over the years?

The Taco Bell menu has changed quite a bit over the years. Today, you can find a wide variety of items on the menu, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and more. The prices have also gone up quite a bit since the original menu, but you can still find some great deals if you know where to look.

Taco Bell restaurant. American-based chain of fast food


In conclusion, the original Taco Bell menu was very different from what is now available.

Tacos, burritos, frijoles, and tostadas were among the simple yet reasonably priced menu items that featured classic Mexican fare.

Everything on the menu was available to everyone because it was only 19 cents per item.

The menu has changed throughout time to accommodate shifting tastes and preferences.

New offerings from Taco Bell including the Enchirito, Chalupa, and Crunchwrap Supreme have won over customers.

The chain has also experimented with novel menu items including the Doritos Locos Taco and the Naked Chicken Chalupa.

Taco Bell has stayed dedicated to providing inexpensive, delectable food that suits a variety of tastes despite the modifications.

You’re likely to find something you love at Taco Bell, whether you’re craving a traditional taco or something off the beaten path.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.