Zantigo's

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Fred Ferris
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2005/03/03 17:14:24 (permalink)

Zantigo's

Does anyone out there remember the Mexican chain Zantigo's? As far as chains go, they were really outstanding (or maybe I was just a hungry college student with underdeveloped culinary taste). Still, I crave the memories.

There were several in Columbus Ohio during the 80s, but Taco Bell took them all over....do they even exist anymore?
#1

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    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/03 21:35:47 (permalink)
    They're all gone.

    They were well established in Cincinnati when the deal went down, and much better than Taco bell quality wise.
    #2
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/03 21:53:40 (permalink)
    They were pretty darned good, I thought. They certainly beat Taco Bell -- at least in the Columbus area. But they didnt all turn into Taco Bell places. There's one former Zantigo on Hamilton Road in Whitehall that's a very good Gyro place -- King Gyros.
    #3
    carlton pierre
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/03 22:17:17 (permalink)
    The one that was in Hamilton, OH has become several restaurants (chain and un-chain) since then. I liked Zantigo as well.
    #4
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/03 22:24:12 (permalink)
    In many cases in Cincinnati, the Zantigo's buildings were in better shape or in a slightly better location than the Taco Bell's nearby, so the old TBs were closed and business resumed in the old Zantigo locations.

    Good example is the Surrey Square (Norwood) Taco Bell.
    #5
    Wallyum
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/04 00:14:37 (permalink)
    The Newport (KY) Taco Bell was originally a Zantigo's. (And before that, a Sunoco.) They opened when I was working at the nearby Godfather's and several people I worked with left GF for Zantigo's. I was nearing the end of my fascination with fast food by then, and looking to get out completely. Zantigo's had Taco Bell beat in every way except backing. Taco Bell has Pepsico behind it. Zantigo had nothing. You can still get a little taste of Zantigo's though. IIRC, the Chillito (or Chilli Cheese Burrito,) was originally a Zantigo's product. Taco Bell only brought it along after many requests from old Zantigo's customers. (I may be wrong though.)
    #6
    Fred Ferris
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/04 10:18:40 (permalink)
    Yeah...those Chillitos were great...and the tacos had two kinds of cheese. Taco Bell isn't even close...literally survived on Zantigo's and Sisters Chicken (also gone I guess) in college.
    #7
    scarletfire
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/04 10:49:52 (permalink)
    I feel lucky guys! We have five in MN... http://www.zantigo.com/
    I remember one where i grew up and eating there all the time until it turned into Taco Bell. I was soooo bummed! Then they came back! Chilito's ruled! The main difference I loved was that they use real cheese on the nacho's and they had enchilada's before any fast food i remembered! Plus, they season thier meat so much better than TB... Yum! i might go today!
    #8
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/04 10:55:48 (permalink)
    Well Wally, we can drive to Minnesota, or...err...not.
    #9
    Fred Ferris
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/04 12:07:14 (permalink)
    Wow!! So Zantigo's lives...I can't believe it. Next time in MN, definitely will check it out again!
    #10
    wesleyman
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/03/21 12:51:03 (permalink)
    Zantigo was soo freaking amazing. God I miss Zantigo. For a while if you ordered the "chili cheese burrito" at Taco Bell with light chili and heavy cheese it almost ALMOSt tastes like a chilito.

    Minnesota here I come!
    #11
    GarBear
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/05/03 23:42:02 (permalink)
    Ahhh...the Chilito!
    I worked at the second Zapata(nee Zantigo) mexican american restaurant that opened in the fall of 1968 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The chilito was one hot selling item. You'd put a mixture of freshly shredded chedder and jack cheese on a fresh flour tortilla, add a scoop of red or green chili, fold it over and heat it in the burrito press, roll it up and serve it piping hot. Mummm, makes my mouth water thinking about them. Thank God they're brought it all back to life in the Twin Cities. They still use the same seasonings for their tacos, enchiladas, and chili as they did back in the 60's. Their menu makes fast food fun and tasty again.
    Viva La Chilito! It's back to stay........
    #12
    bellczar
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/05/11 16:57:10 (permalink)
    The old Zantigo chain was owned by Kentucky Fried Chicken. When KFC was bought by Pepsi in 1986, they decided to close Zantigo since Pepsi already owned a taco chain, Taco Bell. So most Zantigo stores were converted to Taco Bell in 1987 or simply closed.

    The Minneapolis-St. Paul chain Zapata started using the name Zantigo in 2001. According to that company, they are using recipes of the old Zantigo, but there is no way to know that for sure. Presumably Pepsi (and its successor YUM! Brands) would want to keep those out of the marketplace to avoid competition to Taco Bell.
    #13
    Spinaltap
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/05/15 20:37:51 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by GarBear

    Ahhh...the Chilito!
    I worked at the second Zapata(nee Zantigo) mexican american restaurant that opened in the fall of 1968 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The chilito was one hot selling item. You'd put a mixture of freshly shredded chedder and jack cheese on a fresh flour tortilla, add a scoop of red or green chili, fold it over and heat it in the burrito press, roll it up and serve it piping hot. Mummm, makes my mouth water thinking about them. Thank God they're brought it all back to life in the Twin Cities. They still use the same seasonings for their tacos, enchiladas, and chili as they did back in the 60's. Their menu makes fast food fun and tasty again.
    Viva La Chilito! It's back to stay........



    My buddy and would visit Zantigo's (at all locations around Columbus, OH) all the time just for the chilitoes. We would buy 5 and a soda and that was dinner. Back in '85 life was grand!
    #14
    Wallyum
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/05/16 00:52:58 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by TJ Jackson

    Well Wally, we can drive to Minnesota, or...err...not.


    I've done dumber things.
    #15
    Rt66Mike
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/08/03 23:23:30 (permalink)
    Mmm...Zantigo. I used to love their Chillitos. But, now, alas, the local former Zantigo location is now a discount Cigarettes & Beer joint. Unfortunately, around the St. Louis area, there isn't much choice for Mexican food, as only a few Del Tacos remain, in contrast to the probably 100 or so Taco Bells. At one point, we had in addition to Taco Bell: Naugles, Taco Tico, & Zantigo. The closest fast food mexican joint that isn't a Del Taco or TB is a Taco Johns located in a gas station about 85 miles from the Lou in Pittsfield, IL. If you look up Zantigo.com, you will see that they are still in business in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area.
    #16
    fredferris
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/08/05 11:45:36 (permalink)
    Hey, don't underestimate Del Taco....used to eat there a least once a week when living in Los Angeles...they are everywhere and, boy, is their food ever better than Taco Bell.

    And while we're talking Taco Bell, their downfall occurred about 4 years ago when they started using a way too thickly grated cheese on their tacos...have no idea why they did this, as it's not nearly as appetizing as the delicatly thin cheese strands they once used (just as Del Taco still does)...totally ruins the taste
    #17
    jmckee
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    RE: Zantigo's 2005/08/05 12:24:27 (permalink)
    I really enjoyed Zantigo, as far as a chain goes. I was particularly fond of the cheese chilito, the hot one.

    TJ, I haven't been to Taco Bell on Beechmont since the changeover. I think I'm holding a grudge....

    The site on Beechmont used to be a great little hamburger joint called The Golden Point.
    #18
    Doug Hubbard
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/08/20 15:42:01 (permalink)
    I was the general Manager for Zantigo Restaurants in Kingston and Belleville in the 80s
    I loved their food
    It was part of the H Salt and Zantigo chain
    I was sent to Menphis Ten. for training
    The stores were open for only 1 year in Canada
    Loved the chain and wished it was still around
    #19
    FoodMonger
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/08/25 01:54:20 (permalink)
    Zantigo's --- the one food I miss so much!

    My first job during high school around fall of 1977 was at Steak 'n' Shake. But six weeks later I got sick of the all the disgusting grease from standing over the french fry cooker---I had enough zits already and didn't need to be taking a steam bath in french fry oil every day! Besides, those checked pants and bow ties they made us wear were so geeky.

    So, when I heard they were opening the first location of a new mexican fast food place called Zantigo's near my home, I jumped at the chance. Besides, there were a couple of cute young women from my church youth group who were going to be working there, too, so I couldn't pass it up! :)

    The managers were cool. The place was brand new and clean. And the food.... AWESOME!

    Diablo Chili!
    Taco Burritos!
    Chilitos (especially the green Diablo)!
    Chips n Cheese!

    Even the refried beans were outstanding!

    As someone else mentioned, the seasoning was just so much better than any other taco place's. I can still taste it all these years later... and I long for that food again!

    My dad's dream was to be in Times Square for New Year's Eve. He got to do that. Some people want to go to Europe or Asia or elsewhere. Other people dream of taking their kids or grandkids to DisneyWorld (I've been there, done that, and it was great). But, for me, I dream of making a trek from St. Louis to Minnesota just to eat at the last best relative of a real Zantigo restaurant!

    By the way... regarding Taco Bell's demise... it WAS when they changed to the thicker cheese (as mentioned above). As I recall, they brought out a line of modified products that were supposedly healthier, which had the thicker cheese (or a thicker low-fat cheese alternative, or something like that) and they also used different lower-fat tortilla's etc. That food was actually pretty good. But it didn't catch on with the porker public overall (of which I am one), and they dropped that specialty line, but at the same time kind of moved some of the stylistic changes to the regular full-on-fat versions of their products (which thicker cheese, a different tasting burrito shell, different spices on the taco meat, etc.). The old stuff was better.
    #20
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/08/25 09:07:22 (permalink)
    This thread needs to be moved to the FFF
    #21
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/08/25 10:53:37 (permalink)
    You're kidding.
    #22
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/08/25 12:23:07 (permalink)
    Nope
    #23
    jmckee
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/09/01 13:01:27 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by TJ Jackson

    Nope


    Makes sense to me.
    #24
    TJ Jackson
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/09/01 13:11:46 (permalink)
    Yeah, don't want to disturb the delicate sensibilities of the roadfood purists
    #25
    jmckee
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/09/21 14:36:41 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by TJ Jackson

    Yeah, don't want to disturb the delicate sensibilities of the roadfood purists


    "The price of purity is purists." -- Calvin Trillin
    #26
    Pumbaa
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/10/11 13:37:09 (permalink)
    I loved everything about Zantigos. I even loved the early '80's music they played in the late '80's. I ate their chilitos all the time.

    "Nothing on the menu over 99 cents"
    #27
    desertdog
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/10/12 13:48:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Rt66Mike

    Mmm...Zantigo. I used to love their Chillitos. But, now, alas, the local former Zantigo location is now a discount Cigarettes & Beer joint. Unfortunately, around the St. Louis area, there isn't much choice for Mexican food, as only a few Del Tacos remain, in contrast to the probably 100 or so Taco Bells. At one point, we had in addition to Taco Bell: Naugles, Taco Tico, & Zantigo. The closest fast food mexican joint that isn't a Del Taco or TB is a Taco Johns located in a gas station about 85 miles from the Lou in Pittsfield, IL. If you look up Zantigo.com, you will see that they are still in business in the Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN area.


    Get in your car and drive down to Mexican Villa in Springfield. You can thank me later.
    #28
    Fred Ferris
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    RE: Zantigo's 2006/10/27 16:47:06 (permalink)
    Never followed up on this thread I started many months ago..

    Was on a business trip to Minneapolis and made it my mission to seek out Zantigos. The one I found bore no exterior resemblance to the ones I remember from Ohio....was in a strip mall/no drive through...plus a completely new logo....so I was skeptical..

    But ahhhhhhhh...all doubts were dispelled upon my first bite into the first sloppy green chese chillito I'd eaten in 15 years....what memories...as the gooey lovliness oozed out the other end, I was immediately transported back to days a a semi-broke college student...
    Proceeded to immediate devour a tremendous beef enchilda (red sauce exactly the same...tastes like what Shakey's used to put on their pizzas!....then enhaled the perfect taco with two kinds of cheeese (again, the same beef seasoning I remember to a T)..

    So...is this high quality, authentic Mexican cuisine? No way! But who cares...if you've ever piled in the car in your jammies at 2 am just to satisfy your Big Z craving, you owe it to yourself to get to Zantigos if ever in the area!

    #29
    grubadub
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    RE: Zantigo's 2007/01/10 19:17:20 (permalink)
    I had 100 chilitos shipped UPS from MN to Columbus, OH about a month ago. Worth every penny, about 2.50 per chilito after shipping.
    #30
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