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HEARD ON THE BEAT / RESTAURANTS

Ay, Chihuahua, It's the War of the Tacos

May 04, 1999|GREG HERNANDEZ | Greg Hernandez covers the restaurant industry for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5989 and at greg.hernandez@latimes.com

In their new television spot touting barbecue-flavored "Big Fat Tacos," Laguna Hills-based Del Taco takes on its biggest competitor, Irvine-based Taco Bell Corp., by mocking the larger chain's successful promotion of a talking Chihuahua fond of saying, "Yo quiero."

In the commercial, the competitor's drive-through speaker peers over a hedge to get a better view of Del Taco's drive-through. The speaker sees a black limousine with the license plate "Yo Quiero" pass through the line and asks, "Is that you, Boss?"

According to Del Taco spokeswoman Barbara Caruso, this is the first time the chain, which has 300 stores in California, pointedly pokes fun at Taco Bell, which has about 5,600 stores.

Responded Taco Bell spokeswoman Laurie Gannon: "Imitation is the highest form of flattery."

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