Old-school Taco John’s

January 18, 1976

This photo of a Taco John’s restaurant has no caption information other than the date – Jan. 18, 1976. But given the guard rail you can see in the background on the right, and the house in the background on the left, I’m thinking this is the Taco John’s on London Road – before it was expanded, of course. Do you agree? Or do you think this is somewhere else?

Wherever it was, a sign barely visible through the front windows appears to show a “Taco Tuesday” special of 25-cent tacos:

The News Tribune files are pretty sparse on information about when Taco John’s expanded into the area. What year did they arrive? Was the London Road location the first one in town?

Share your memories by posting a comment.

10 Responses

  1. jerod

    I live in Springfield oregon and we to had one of these little taco shacks. Its no longer a Taco Johns but the building still remains. Its on 42nd and main street. look it up

  2. Greg

    I worked at the Central Entrance Taco Johns as the night manager from it’s inagural opening (summer of 1974 through 1976). The picture is the London Road location as the Central Entrance location did not have the remnants of a light and power post on the concrete slab (you can see in this picture) as well as guard rails overlooking Lake Superior. Plus our Taco Tuesday sign was always displayed in the front window. I left Duluth 36 years ago but still have vivid memories of making their “mystery meat” hamburger where you added a bag of “secret ingredients” to expand a 10lb bag of ground beef into 30lbs. of mystery meat which was used in just about everything at Taco Johns! My favorite meal there was actually the chili-cheese frito which was chili (made with mystery meat of course), and melted cheese over a bag of Fritos. Yummmm…real Duluth comfort food and it beats Lutefisk hands down.

  3. Tim

    I worked at the Central Entrance location briefly in the 70s. Based on the reflection in the windows, this is definitely the London Road location. BTW, I was in Duluth this past summer and picked up some food at the Central Entrance location. The staff was great….but sad to say, the food was awful.

  4. James Copeland

    The Taco Johns on Central Entrance looked exactly like this one and was at the exact location of the current Taco Johns. I left Duluth in 1980 so I would estimate between 1975-1977. I used to save my money to buy taco bravos there. I don’t remember any homes that close though.

  5. Jim

    I remember going there in 1975, I was 9 and thought it was so spicy! It makes me laugh now. It’s funny, but you may notice you actually had to get out of your car and go in.

  6. Tim Winker

    If I recall correctly, the original Taco John’s buildings were pre-fab, built elsewhere, mounted on a trailer and dropped into place.

  7. Tom

    Yes, that store is on London Road. I remember when it opened because I was maybe 9 or 10 and had never heard of a taco before. My parents wouldn’t take us there because the idea of Mexican food was too weird and they didn’t want to be seen as weird (although we laugh now at the thought of Taco John’s actually being anything close to Mexican). We stuck to places like Ponderosa and Mr. Steak.

  8. Donna Sunnafrank

    My family moved here approx. 23 years ago. We have traveled around alot,so this is the longest we’ve ever stayed in one place. I have never given any thought as to the history of Duluth,other than the typical need to know info. Since I’ve started reading the News Tribune Attic, I’m hooked on knowing more about Duluth’s past. I think I would have love to live here 40 yrs. ago. The old West Duluth sounds like the ideal place to live and raise a family. I am truly sorry that the old bakeries, barbershops, hardware stores ect. are gone. Would’nt it be cool to rebuild all of that as it used to be, and make that a tourist stop to remind people the way it used to be? In Sacramento,CA., that concept was put to good use by creating Old Sacramento. No cars allowed. Walking only. Shopping the old streets for fresh baked goods, going into an old style barbershop for a straight edge razor shave, going into an old style candy store for 2 bit candies,ect. Every one dressed in character from the good ole days. Oh,well, just a thought.

  9. I’m pretty sure that was the London Road location, and I think that was the first Taco John’s location in Duluth. I went on a “first date” there in 1984, so I always had fond memories of it.

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