Naugles, Legendary SoCal Mexican Fast-Food Chain, is Trying to Make a Comeback, and We Have the Proof

Categories: Mexi Meals

naugles_hot_sauce.jpg
The sauce in all its thick, spicy, sweet glory...

As I've gone around Southern California lecturing about Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America, one name that always comes up is Naugles, a former fast-food chain that at its height numbered around 250 outposts but was bought out by Del Taco in the 1980s and disappeared. I never had a chance to eat there, but fans speak of it in mythical terms, rave about their taco sandwich (still available via Del Taco's secret menu as a "bun taco"), their taco sauce, their superior quality to the dreck that passes as fast-food Mexican nowadays, their everything.

May those fans start drooling anew now: a mysterious consortium is trying to bring Naugles back, and they gave me some of the chain's legendary taco sauce to prove it.


A couple weeks back, some Naugles taco sauce was dropped off at the offices of this infernal rag. A paper slip referred me to this website, and I made contact with the people. Let's just say for right now that this effort isn't sponsored by Del Taco (which still owns the trademark to the Naugles name and hawks Naugles T-shirts and caps) but is a fascinating effort in nostalgia, consumer demand, and damn good cooking. I'll have more on the effort to bring back Naugles in September in a cover story, insha'allah, so other reporters: LAY OFF. This one's mine, and I've sworn the parties involved to secrecy under penalty of a lifetime of chinga tu madres directed at them.

As for the sauce, prepared according to the specifications of founder Dick Naugle? For what it is--not a salsa, but a taco sauce--it's spectacular. Thick, sweet, a bit like Del Taco's Del Scorcho but with an actual scorch-o. Objectively, it's also great: would be like a Cal-Mex Sriracha. You can't buy it anywhere right now, so if you want to try some, let's just say you should root for these Naugles fans to succeed in bringing the chain back. I have seen the light, and I want Naugles NOW!

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54 comments
bottoson
bottoson

BTs Buns & Torts in Visalia gets 4.5 stars on both Yelp and Urban Spoon.  Rumored to be run by Dick's nephew and has same menu as Naugles.

Macho beef burrito, double wrapped, extra cheese and sour cream with a large chocolate shake.  Nothing like a midnight meal at Naugles after working a shift at McDonald's right across the street.


Liz Gonzalez
Liz Gonzalez

Nalgas! I have fond memories of sitting in a car crowded with girls, going through the drive-thru after a night of partying.

deanielinden
deanielinden

Great place to get an egg burrito after a night of dancing and drinking because they stayed open late.  


Michael Ceja
Michael Ceja

Then again Sarianas beats by about 25 years.

Paula Yeakel
Paula Yeakel

now that's good news. I once worked at Naugles. I hope it makes a comback. Yay!

Jeff Hill
Jeff Hill

How about the "Totally Bad For you" CHEESE BURRITO!!! so good!!

Michael Ceja
Michael Ceja

You were talking about Del Taco the other day. Here's a good read that touches on both DT and Naugles. The guys name was Neil T Baker and he had a hand in almost all of the fast food here in So Cal.

miller9
miller9

We used to go to the one in Carson off the 91 about 2 or 3 times a week. Delicious and cheap food.

Matthew Bohen
Matthew Bohen

HOLY JEBUS H. CROSSSTICH! Whhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaattttt is happening??? I thought I would never see this day come again! How am I going to break it to the nice people at Pepe's on Placentia Avenue that they got to go, because that has to be repopulated as a Naugles.

Jayme Vassis Smith
Jayme Vassis Smith

No way!!! You mean i can sink my teeth into a Macho Beef Burrito again? Ok my life is complete now haha :)

dtakeda1
dtakeda1

First thought when I think of Naugles is HUGE food.

Jason Guthrie
Jason Guthrie

This is the best news I've read in a while!!!

BigJay
BigJay

This is the best news I've heard in quite a while!  Naugles was THE BEST!  My favorite was the Cheese Burrito, there's nothing quite like a Naugles cheese burrito and Naugles fries!

Ron DeViso
Ron DeViso

I have fond memories of that place. If it comes back, I'll be there. That hot sauce was the best!

bio_ron
bio_ron

I grew up in El Toro (before it was named Lake Forest).  We would go to the one on Cañada Road and drink the hot sauce straight out of the containers.  Those containers look like the ones you get from various places now but have Ranch dressing in them instead.  It was just so good!!  If they bring it back, I hope for it to be like the original, however times have changed and years have dimmed the memories.  If it makes a comeback, I'll be there.

David Esc
David Esc

Sounds too much like Nalgas which is Mexican for Butt Cheek! lol

Paul Lucas
Paul Lucas

Naugles rules! We lost that chain to a woman scorned in a divorce.

frey4
frey4

Del Taco would be smart to bring a few of these back, it would be a hype bananza.  Much like if Carls Jr brought back its old fries.

-paulc-
-paulc-

My Grandmother used to take to the one off the 60 in Walnut...every time she'd pick me up for weekend trips.

WeFlipBurgers
WeFlipBurgers

ChristianZ, here's your opportunity to remember what you liked about their food, hopefully, they'll bring back the grape soda also. Used to get taco salad cup and bun taco in Orange (Lincoln/W of Tustin). Not quite 'hood of hoods', just down the road from Villa Park.

Next up, Pup 'n Taco?

IE_ChargersFan
IE_ChargersFan

Bill Naugle, who was the son of Dick, actually managed a Naugles in Perris, CA.  I remember because my mom worked for him.  Good times!  I hope they come back soon, good grub.

David Bolt Backer Parada
David Bolt Backer Parada

I remember clearly when they merged with Del Taco around 1988. One of the sons of the founder actually managed a Naugles in Perris, CA.

David A Rivera
David A Rivera

The best thing about Naugles it was open until 2:00am. Back then, you had very few options to soak up all that alcohol. There are 24 hour taquerias now. Problem solved!

Linda Delarosa Miller
Linda Delarosa Miller

I used to go to the one in Alhambra & I love it!!! Their side of beans & cheese were scrumptious!

Ann Rey
Ann Rey

The best, especially for midnite hunger pains that could be satisfied by their macho burrito!

Alfredo N Michele Reveles
Alfredo N Michele Reveles

Manny's El Loco and King Taco basically took the clientele of the one in Alhambra. I wonder why? (sarcasm)

Steve DeHaro
Steve DeHaro

Never even heard of that place. But I know of some other places that are fire. Sometimes you have to go into the hood of hoods just to have some of best food around. I go into WATTS.. A backyard to be exact

John Dailey
John Dailey

I worked there when I was a freshman in college!

Nina Ylisa
Nina Ylisa

or, as it was fondly known, Nalgas

Laszona
Laszona

@bottoson I decided to research Naugles a few years back (if you've ever eaten at Naugles and liked it, you know why) and found BT's. I've since visited Jeff Naugle's single restaurant a few times when not in too much of a hurry driving the Central Valley. Yummy!

reviews2
reviews2

@frey4 As the article said this is not sponsored by Del Taco.

reviews2
reviews2

@Martha Arciniega Schiller That picture is not the best representation of what it would look like at a Naugles restaurant.

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