A familiar fast-food restaurant chain is coming to Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula, and this time it’s serving beer.
Taco Bell Cantina, which officially opens this weekend after a soft opening Wednesday, is the first of its kind in Southern California from the Irvine-based chain.
Unlike regular Taco Bells, the Cantina concept lacks a drive-through.
Each restaurant is unique. In Newport’s case, the one at 2121 W. Balboa Blvd., down the street from the Newport Pier, will have a takeout window where customers can order from the sidewalk.
It also features an open kitchen and murals by Volcom artist Joe Frizzelle, plus flat-screen TVs for watching sports and rows of electrical outlets and USB ports to charge cellphones. The glass windows can be opened, allowing the coastal breezes inside.
Beach Bell, a Taco Bell-exclusive Mexican amber lager made by Huntington Beach-based 4 Sons Brewing, will be served for a limited time.
The restaurant offers other beers on tap and in bottles and cans.
The food is mostly standard Taco Bell fare, but as a Cantina, it also serves shareable appetizers like jalapeños with dip.
The Taco Bell Cantina replaces Original Pizza, which closed in January after serving slices in a no-frills atmosphere since 1963.
Like Original Pizza, the interior of Newport’s Taco Bell Cantina is relatively small, seating about 25.
When the property secures its liquor license, it plans to also serve alcoholic slush drinks.
Operating hours are planned to be 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.