LESS than a month ago, Taco Bell set up shop in Newport with a decent amount of fanfare.

News of its impending arrival was met with excitement, and though the grand opening was delayed, the fast food outlet, specialising in Mexican cuisine, opened its doors days before Christmas.

Initially, it was operating as a takeaway only, but now, with the restaurant section up and running, and enough time for teething issues to have been resolved passed, it was time to see what all of the fuss is about.

There is something of an elephant in the room – Taco Bell doesn’t have the best of reputations in the UK, especially when compared to franchises in its homeland, over in the United States.

Recently, Taco Bell has been expanding on this side of the Atlantic, and reviews carried out by our sister titles and other publications have been a mixed bag.

But, how does Newport’s branch compare? On a foggy Thursday afternoon, we went to see for ourselves.

Taco Bell in Newport: What can you expect?

The setting

Located inside the former Select clothing store in John Frost Square, the brightly lit restaurant appears spotlessly clean, with staff on the door to help guide you to either the counter of the self-service machines.

Inside, it is cheerfully decorated, but on our visit, one thing was notably absent – customers.

South Wales Argus: Touch screen menus to order fromTouch screen menus to order from

The dining area isn’t all that big, and smaller still with the two-metre rule taking some tables out of service, but even so, only one table was in use.

Undeterred, we ordered using the kiosks – virtually identical to those found in McDonalds, down to the customisation options, and, mindful of the current public health situation, headed home to tuck in.

The food

Keen to get a flavour of what Taco Bell is all about, we ordered a Crispy Chicken Burrito, and some Seasoned Fries.

It would also be daft to visit Taco Bell and not try a taco, so we also picked up a soft shell Black Bean Taco, and a Crunchy Beef Taco.

All told, this came to £8.56, which isn’t half bad.

Now, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that Mexican food isn’t known to be particularly photogenic, and it is true in this case, the food doesn’t look amazing.

South Wales Argus: Crunchy Shell Beef TacoCrunchy Shell Beef Taco

But, in a case of substance over style, Taco Bell delivers, it has to be said.

All four menu items deliver on taste, with the two tacos being especially moreish in their taste. What’s more, this was the perfect amount of food to leave us feeling comfortably full at the end of our meal – which is ideal.

South Wales Argus: Crispy Chicken BurritoCrispy Chicken Burrito

If there is any drawback to be found, is that you could make an argument that with the exception of the fries, everything lacked a bit of seasoning and spice.

Everything was nice, if maybe a little bland. The black beans for example, could have used a little kick.

The crunchy taco completely disintegrated too – and was definitely inferior to the soft tortilla option. This didn’t take away from the overall taste, but did make it more of an inconvenience to eat.


From Argus HQ in the city centre, we can see that Taco Bell is usually bustling and busy, so it is tricky to judge too harshly on atmosphere based on our visit.

But, it is fair to say that service was good, and the food, while lacking the wow factor to make it a regular dining spot, was perfectly pleasant.

The restaurant was kept busy with delivery drivers too, which suggests that already, the people of Newport are buying into what Taco Bell are selling.

With current opening hours between midday and 7pm, the long term success of this branch may yet depend on their ability to open later and longer, but Taco Bell in Newport seem to have the ingredients to make a success of it yet.