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