If you have ever strayed from your usual Taco Bell, you've probably experienced sticker shock. Each Bell location can set its own prices, which leads to some massive variances within the same city, and even at locations just blocks from each other.
One Redditor, u/wise_genesis, just made a website called Taconomical (props on the punny name!) that will help you find the cheapest Taco Bell near you, and we're totally here for it. "It started as a bit of fun, and also because I'm a bit of a data nerd and cheapskate all in one!" they said in a direct message to Cheapism on Reddit. "It's insane how much prices can vary. Walking a few blocks down the road can save you a few dollars in some cases."
Taconomical shows you a map of the U.S. with dots for just about every Taco Bell location there is. Zoom in on your location and you'll be able to quickly tell which TBs nearby have the best prices. The color of the dots clues you into the prices for each location, ranging from green as the cheapest to dark red as the most expensive, and clicking on the dot reveals the most recently checked price for the selected menu item.
Right now you can check the prices of seven different menu items: crunchy taco, Crunchwrap supreme, nachos BellGrande, three Doritos Locos taco combo meal, build your own cravings box, cinnamon twists, and a side of guacamole. Redditors are asking u/wise_genesis to add more items, like the Mexican pizza, to the map, and they've indicated they may do that soon.
According to u/wise_gensis, they compiled the data by "scrap[ing] their mobile ordering website ... Honestly this scraper was super easy. I actually got ChatGPT to write me a basic python script that worked almost instantly." That does mean that locations that don't offer online ordering aren't included, but in this day and age that's not many.
On the flip side, some of the highest priced items are absolutely shocking. The most expensive build-your-own cravings box will set you back $18 at one location on Fort Lauderdale Beach. That's also where you'll find a $15 three Doritos Locos tacos combo, the priciest in the nation. Steer clear of any touristy areas like that, or at locations inside airports or at Universal Studios, for instance, if you want to keep your bill low.
Fellow Redditors love the tool as much as we do. "I can literally save $1.50 by turning left instead of right and driving the same distance from my house, that's pretty cool," said u/Bighorn21.
"With at least three different franchise operators in my area, I've found a wide variation in Taco Bell pricing," said u/SEA_tide. "It's interesting to see how the rest of the US compares."
Will Taco Bell corporate appreciate this treasure trove of price data? If McDonald's is any indication, probably not. According to u/wise_genesis, they've done similar price tracking sites in the past, including one that used McDonald's price data. "I previously did one for Big Macs, but McCorporate shut down my scraper pretty sharpish." Here's hoping the Taco Bell chihuahua is less cranky than Ronald McDonald.
But u/wise_genesis teased to us that they're working on new fast food maps, and may even take another crack at the golden arches. Godspeed, you beautiful cheapskate.