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We tested Taco Bell's new upscale American Taqueria, U.S. Taco Co.

Taco Bell and its parent company Yum Brands are opening up shop on their first fast casual concept, U.S. Taco Co., on the Strand in Huntington Beach on August 11, with high hopes of tapping into an audience of higher income eaters with more discerning tastes.

Chef Rene Pisciotti—who has worked with Taco Bell and Yum Brands for 7 years and developed the Cantina Bowls with Top Chef Masters' Lorena Garcia—was tapped to craft the U.S. Taco Co. menu. He and his marketing cohort Jeff Jenkins traveled the country researching the concept, exploring America's iconic eateries for inspiration.

"We were able to draw from local favorites in food culture and put the best of America in a taco," said Jenkins continued. "This is not supposed to be Mexican food."

The result is what could be considered American comfort tacos that play on the country's favorite junk foods all stuffed into a fluffy tortilla.

Those tortillas, of course, are Taco Bell flour tortillas, which may upset authentic taco enthusiasts who dote on masa and the masterful skill of East L.A.'s tortillerias. But other than than the wrap—and the prevalent Pepsi Co presence, of course—there's not much of a resemblance to their fast food father.

U.S. Taco Co. has traded cold plastic seats and unflattering fluorescent lighting of the fast food giant for a more modern look. Aesthetically speaking, the place is pretty smart; you really could be in any hip cantina in San Francisco's Mission District. The vibrantly colored space looks strikingly similar to the newly popular Vietnamese fast casual restaurant East Borough in Culver City or a cheaper version of Scottsdale's Barrio Queen. There are Dia De Los Muertos skulls everywhere, and plenty of poppy colors and decorative Spanish tiles throughout.

The nod to current trends and the modern diner is no mistake.

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