Calif.-based Del Taco restaurant chain coming to East Tennessee
(WBIR) - The Knoxville metro area is about to gain a new Mexican restaurant franchise.

California-based Del Taco has announced plans to open 10 area restaurants by 2021. The first restaurant is to open next year, and stores are planned in Knox, Sevier, Blount, Loudon, Hamblen and Anderson counties, according to a news release from the company. reports the chain wants to expand into the South. It operates more than 500 restaurants in 16 states.

Del Taco sells itself as offering "fresh, prepared-to-order Mexican and American classics."

The local franchising group is not identified. Nor is the exact location of the first restaurant that will open.

The first Del Taco opened in 1964 in Yermo, Calif., selling 19-cent tacos and 24-cent hamburgers.

The company emphasizes the freshness of its ingredients, from cheddar cheese grated from 40-pound blocks to handmade pico de gallo salsa to fresh sliced avocado and marinated chicken grilled in the restaurant. They also serve breakfast.

In addition to East Tennessee, the company looks to expand into Georgia and New Jersey.