Of all fast food chains available in the United States, I prefer Taco Bell, and if you found this by searching for Taco Bell, then I assume you also love the chain. In Tyler, there aren’t a lot of non-burger fast food restaurants. They exist, but for a city our size, there seem to be relatively few.
This Taco Bell branch is located at the corner of Highway 31 and Loop 323. It shares a parking lot with Blockbuster Video which together make a great combination for a lazy evening. Also in the same shopping center are a Burger King, a Little Caesar’s Pizza, a Family Dollar, and interesting enough a Mexican grocery market which has a real taqueria (taco restaurant). I’ve tasted real Mexican tacos. They are amazing. In fact, Tyler offers several locations that will sell you tacos as close to authentic as possible this far North. Yet, I so often find myself pulling into this Taco Bell.
What makes it special? Well, the location has nothing to offer in the visual realm. The parking lot is as depressing as a parking lot can be. It’s as huge as you would need for a mall or a Wal-Mart and so it is rarely even close to fully occupied. This allows for making the potholes visible. Taco Bell itself feels very scrunched against the corner of the two busy roads. The drive through tends to make me claustrophobic like driving on an interstate that is under construction. It is not very wide. It curves and does not allow for exiting it once you’ve committed. I sometimes wonder what I’d do if I was in line and had an emergency. I guess I’d have to attempt hopping the six inch curb.
The things that are special about this Taco Bell in Tyler are the food, of course, and the employees. I have become a bit of an expert on Taco Bell dining around the United States. This is purely from eating at so many of them and hanging out with people at them. Only once have I been disappointed by this Taco Bell’s food, and it was because I made the number one fast food ordering mistake. I tried to go healthy. I ordered some sort of chicken and rice burrito that was close to disgusting. I didn’t spit it out, but I didn’t smile either. That was such an obvious mistake on my part that I could never hold it against the restaurant.
This Taco Bell has been very consistent with their food production. The burritos and tacos always come out as expected. They look close enough to the enhanced commercial examples and consistently taste exactly as I want them too. The “grilled stuffed burrito” is an item that is so often messed up by Taco Bells. When I’ve ordered them at other locations they’ve been dry and overcooked. One common mistake with it is overstuffing it with the rice which needs to be there but not noticed. This location does it right every time. I was even able to convert my wife from a chicken sandwich only customer to being a burrito fan with this branch’s consistently wonderful “grilled stuffed burritos”.
The other cool thing is their employees. I know that fast food doesn’t pay well, and that the employee turnover rate is pretty high. It should be hard to keep good workers. And though I can’t say for certain that they have been the same employees, I can say that the service has stayed the same. They must have a manager who understands customer service. When I pull up to the window, the worker may appear rough or unfriendly, but they inevitably smile at me and offer some small talk. One employee in particular actually had me laughing at loud. It really made the difference in where I will choose to take my eating business.
One last thought to encourage you to check them out…their soda is perfectly mixed. They are always strong with the initial burn that a good soda should offer, and the syrup mix has never been off when I ordered. They also have really good small ice and the really thin straws that make for a nice drinking experience. Give this slightly unattractive location a shot. You might become a regular like me.
500 S Southwest SL-323
Tyler, TX 75702