This Beloved Tex-Mex Institution Has Deep Roots in Abilene
Anyone who’s been out and about in Abilene is probably familiar with the Tex-Mex staple that is Taco Bueno. With locations across the state of Texas and more in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, and Kansas, the chain is a staple for Mexican-style fast food and quality ingredients in the South and Southwest. However, only longtime Abilenians remember the restaurant’s humble beginnings in Abilene.
Taco Bueno was just founder Bill Waugh’s start into restauranteering, specifically in Abilene. The Abilene Christian University-educated Waugh built the first Taco Bueno location at 2549 South First St. in Abilene in 1967, in partnership with his brother Tom Waugh. The restaurant was later moved to a location on North First Street.
Waugh’s family and real estate connections in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area made the opening of a second store out-of-state an easy choice. Oklahoma would come to love Taco Bueno unequivocally — of the first ten Taco Bueno restaurants open, eight of them were in Oklahoma.
Bill Waugh went on to own several other beloved Abilene eateries, like Tony’s Pizza cave and Crystal’s Pizza. He sold both Crystal’s Pizza and Taco Bueno brands in 1981.
The chain has changed hands several times in its existence, but the chain is currently owned by Sun Holdings, which also has holdings in Arby’s, Burger King, McAllister’s, and Popeye’s. Taco Bueno did file for bankruptcy in 2018 but emerged in 2019.
Here’s where you can find your nearest Taco Bueno locations. In addition to its policy of fast, quality Tex-Mex foods made with fresh ingredients prepared in-house, Taco Bueno has also gained regional and national recognition. The restaurant’s “Muchacho” soft taco was ranked the third-best soft taco from a fast-food restaurant in Texas by Texas Monthly in 2019.
Taco Bueno is also a recurring reference in the animated hit show ‘King of the Hill’, including a specific episode where the character Bobby finds the restaurant in a high school cafeteria. If you need a good Texas chuckle, watch the YouTube clip below of Bobby chowing down on his Taco Bueno.