We're assuming you won't find horse meat at US Taco Co., Taco Bell's new high-end "fast-casual" joint that's designed "to appeal to a sophisticated clientele" in Huntington Beach, Calif., reports the Christian Science Monitor. The cheeky menu includes the "Wanna Get Lei'd" taco with grilled mahi-mahi and Polynesian sauce, the $10 "1%er" flatbread taco stuffed with lobster, and the "Shut Your Pie Hole" strawberry shake. "It's food truck food you don't have to chase," one of US Taco's co-founders tells the LA Times. "It's playful [and] different."
Taco Bell appears to be hedging its bets between the declining pull of fast-food eateries and the ascent of "fast-casual" restaurants such as Chipotle and KFC Eleven, which are trying to lure customers with healthier ingredients and trendier venues and menus, notes the Monitor. "Fast-casual concepts have been stealing share from fast food and have raised the bar for fast-food restaurants, which are trying to step up and compete," a restaurant analyst for NPD Group told the Wall Street Journal in 2012. For Taco Bell die-hards, rest assured that your cheesy, calorie-laden Gorditas are safe—the parent company plans to add a couple thousand restaurants and double sales by 2020, notes Nation’s Restaurant News via the Monitor. (More Taco Bell stories.)