Mitla Cafe San Bernardino the inspiration for 2 Billion Tacos at Taco Bell Later

2 Billion tacos, 5,604 locations later, all due to a man watched the line form around the Mitla Café in San Bernadino CA on Mt. Vernon Ave, waiting  to get into the café to have their famous tacos.   Tacos were not invented in the Mitla Café that was years ago in Mexico, but the crispness of the taco, the flavors, the meat, the veggies used was all the creation of Lucia Rodriquez the owner of Mitla Café.

Glenn Bell in the late 50’s would look across to the cafe from his then small hamburger stand on Mt Vernon Ave. and want to know what is in those tacos that have people clamoring for more.  He visited the restaurant several times, ate the tacos and even worked in the kitchen for a while to learn the secrets of the Mitla Café taco.


Much like Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame, he saw an opportunity and he seized the day. In 1962 Glenn Bell opened his first Taco Bell location in Downey CA, serving what he then called Tay-kohs. The tacos were a smaller facsimile of the tacos served in Mitla Café.  Made fast and inexpensive to buy, the public loved them and in 1964 he had his first franchisee.  The history goes on from there till the chain grew to 868 locations and Glenn Bell sold the chain to Pepsico in 1978.  The headquarters for Taco Bell is in Irvine CA and the original Taco Bell Station has been moved to the campus there.

Meanwhile back at Mitla Café on Route 66, they are still serving those delicious Tacos that they have been for years. The Café on Route 66 is colorful inside, with a wall full of pictures that shows their history.  They were part of the Hampton Inn save a landmark and the sign is proudly displayed in front of the café. 

There is parking for the café down the street.  The building looks so unassuming as you go by, beautiful glass bricks adorn the front, but it does not look like there is even activity inside, but open the door and you are greeted with a warm smile, a welcome you are there, and tacos like you have never had before.  Serve good food and they will come ,and come often and for years.  They have an excellent rating on the Yelp, Google pages. 

Interesting that San Bernardino CA gave birth and inspiration for 2 of the most successful fast food restaurants ever, Taco Bell and McDonalds, and both on Route 66!  Glenn Bell thought that people everywhere would want the taste of some Mexican tacos, no matter where they lived and he was right.  The Taco Bell franchise now has 5,604 locations and counting!  There is probably one near you!  At last count they have served over 2 billion tacos.

Mitla café is located at 602 N Mount Vernon Dr. San Bernardino Ca, and hope you have an opportunity to drop by, have a taco, the way they were made in the 50’s and still are.  May spoil you from going to a Taco Bell though so beware.  Taco Tuesday anyone?