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Revived Cal-Mex chain Naugles opens location in Artesia

The revived Cal-Mex chain Naugles Tacos and Burgers located at 11732 Artesia Boulevard in Artesia, CA. April 17, 2023. Photo: Roger Abea.


Fast Food nostalgists and bun taco enthusiasts can celebrate, Naugles Tacos and Burgers opened a new location in Artesia.

The revived Cal-Mex chain which dotted the Southland in the 1970s and 1980s has opened a third permanent location at 11732 Artesia Boulevard in Artesia, according to the company’s Facebook page, and will operate on soft-opening hours until an upcoming grand opening.  

Brought back after a 20-year hiatus, Naugles was revived by food writer Christian Ziebarth after the United States Patent and Trademark Office ruled in 2015 that parent company Del Taco forfeited the trademark due to decades of non-use.

Artesia’s menu features old favorites like the bun taco–essentially a sloppy joe with taco-seasoned ground beef–crispy hard shell tacos and cheese burritos, and the Naugleburger, featuring Monterey jack cheese and the store’s signature white sauce

Ziebarth and partners say they’ve painstakingly recreated the recipes of the uniquely California cuisine, but the jury is still out on whether they’ve captured the magic of the late 1980s when Señor Naugles–an apparently immortal figure dressed with a serape and sombrero but of questionable Latin ancestry–would remind TV viewers that his tacos have tomatoes and recount serving up fajitas at the Battle of the Alamo.   

The Artesia location was formerly occupied by Tacos El Tio and joins new Naugles locations in Fountain Valley and Stanton. Last year, Naugles closed a concession stand location at the Waterfront Hilton in Huntington Beach after a five-year stint.

Founded in 1970 by Dick Naugle, the company was purchased by Denny’s founder Harold Butler in 1971 when the chain consisted of only three restaurants in Riverside County, according to the Los Angeles Times. The brand would peak in the 1980s with over 200 locations and with outposts stretching as far east as New York and Florida.

Amid declining sales and store closures, restaurant magnate Anwar Soliman purchased Naugles and competitor Del Taco in 1988, combining the former rivals’ 373 locations to create the nation’s second-largest Mexican fast-food chain behind–but still dwarfed by–Taco Bell. The chains were consolidated under the Del Taco banner and the last original Naugles closed its doors in 1995. 

Naugles’s Artesia location is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 9 AM to 9 PM. Come for the mid-century taco stand chic, stay for the reasonably priced bean and cheese burrito with choice of green or red sauce.