Tag Archives: Taco Bell

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

The Naked Chicken Chalupa was in one test market in 2015 and another in 2016, and I read that it took two years to develop. Can you imagine being the person in charge for trying to make a fried chicken shell? Day after day, staring at this processed and battered (both literally and figuratively) piece of flat meat, trying through sheer force of will to transmogrify it into something it was never supposed to be?

“This is not how my life was meant to turn out,” he whispers to himself, fingers red and blistered from fry oil. “This was not why I got my Food Science degree. I was supposed to do good in this world.”

…If there’s a plus to rolling up on Taco Bell at 6:03am, it’s that your order is going to be fresh (or as fresh as you can expect). If there’s a drawback, it’s that you’re ordering a Naked Chicken Chalupa three minutes after opening time, and that feels embarrassing.

However, the nice man at the window did warn me that my Chalupa was fresh and therefore hot, which was both kind of him and made me chuckle at the accidental implication that the rest of my order was not, indeed, fresh. You mean the smashed wreckage that is the Meximelt isn’t lovingly crafted on the spot?

He was right though, as the fried chicken shell slightly burned my fingers when I took it out of its protective sleeve (smart move, Taco Bell) to photograph it.

I gotta say, I was surprised at how crunchy and juicy the chicken shell was. And spicy, too! I wasn’t even aware that it was supposed to be spicy, but my lips were slightly burning as I ate it.

Of course, the taco itself was mostly chicken. The sparse innards were your typical fare: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cheddar cheese and avocado ranch sauce. The last ingredient is the only real one of note, as its creamy texture and mild ranch flavor mixed nicely with the spicy chicken. Those bites were rare, but when they came together, it was really a good combo.

It’s disturbing how normal I felt while I was eating the Naked Chicken Chalupa. I mean, I’m eating a taco that has chicken instead of a shell. But really, it was just…eating some chicken. The thick, spicy breading and the moistness of the chicken were great surprises, especially given how pathetic the fillings were. It looks small, but it’s actually quite filling, and I can’t say as I wouldn’t have turned another one down.

Or maybe not, given what happened next.

I don’t often talk about the aftermath of eating the products I review, mostly because there isn’t one. Rarely, I get a surprise color poop, and that’s fun, but otherwise food is just food. In case you can’t tell, we’re going to get real with some toilet talk here. If that disturbs you, a.) why are you even here, and b.) skip the next paragraph.

Almost immediately after consuming the Naked Chicken Chalupa, I started having some pretty bad gas cramps. It was the only thing I’d eaten that morning, so I know it had to be the culprit. Just like any normal human, I get gas occasionally, but never have I had cramps that lasted for eight fucking hours. What I considered even more odd is that, while I was shitting more than usual, I wasn’t exactly wrecking toilets right and left. I’ve just never eaten something that left me in intestinal pain for an entire day, and I felt that was worthy of noting.

Junk Food Betty: Come to stare at gross pictures, stay for the shit jokes, leave a complaint in the comments.

Here’s a fun postscript: if you’re reading this, chances are you can’t actually get your hands on a Naked Chicken Chalupa. I suck at getting reviews out in a timely manner, and apparently this product was a big, fat failure. Less than a month after its premiere, Taco Bell has taken it off the menu. Everything you just read means nothing!

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

  • Score: 3 out of 5 crampy food scientists
  • Price: $2.99
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #022951
  • Nutritional Quirk: No surprise, the item is no longer listed on Taco Bell’s website, so I can’t access the nutritional information. But given the “condition” I was left in after eating it, I’m assuming the entire taco was actually made of beans.

Taco Bell Quesalupa

Taco Bell Quesalupa PackageTaco Bell was all abuzz on Twitter last week, touting it had what could be the “Biggest Idea Ever” (shove it, electricity) and showing a bunch of maybe-celebrities holding a green brick, because nothing gets you excited for Taco Bell like a fake greenscreened brick. And Mario Lopez. I saw him in there somewhere.

So excited was Taco Bell about this new product that they wouldn’t talk about their new product. Instead, they enticed Twitter followers to pre-order this Holy Grail of fast food online, allowing them to receive the mystery item two days before the rest of the filthy serfs who weren’t obsessed with greenscreen bricks.

I toyed with the idea of pre-ordering it, because I had to be honest with myself and realize that I am one of those people who would pre-order Taco Bell. But then I figured, eh, I can wait two days and avoid being That Guy. Plus, I was 99% sure what the new product was anyways.

And I was right! If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw that it was the Quesalupa, which TB describes as “A beautiful, chewy Chalupa shell on the outside, with delicious pepper jack cheese baked right inside the shell. Yes. Majestic, melty cheese stuffed inside the shell. A cheesy shell, filled with seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato, reduced fat sour cream, and you guessed it, even more cheese.”

Beautiful and majestic. Two things I always associate with Taco Bell.

While I wasn’t willing to pre-order, I did decide to try Taco Bell’s online ordering, mostly because you can customize the shit out of your order without shame. Extra sauce and jalapeños on everything, please! (I ordered my Quesalupa as-is for the sake of this review.)

I could tell my local Taco Bell didn’t get a lot of online orders because when I pulled up to the speaker I said that I placed my order online and the man immediately said, “Oh, Kelley?” I had apparently been the only person to order online in at least a few hours.

When I went up to the food-getting window, another guy came up and said, “Oh, is this the online order?” So, I guess online ordering isn’t very popular in my area. But the transaction did go very smoothly.

Taco Bell Quesalupa Filling

In case you’ve never had a Chalupa, the draw is the shell – it’s fried flatbread, which puffs up and becomes chewy and crispy; almost flaky. So, yes, the Quesalupa is just a Chalupa with pepper jack cheese inside the shell.

Since the inside ingredients are exactly the same as a Chalupa (and many other Taco Bell items), I’m not really going to talk about them. They were sufficiently Taco Bell.

Taco Bell Quesalupa Cheese Stuffed Shell

Right off the bat, I had beef with my Quesalupa. In every single advertisement, it shows people pulling their Quesalupa apart, with delicious-looking cheese stretching out between the two halves. I cut mine with a knife in order to take pictures, but I can assure you that at no point was there any stretching, even when I tried.

The issue, as far as I could tell, is that the cheese stuffed into the shell was just a big glomp near the bottom of the shell. Let it never be said that I don’t like cheese, but it felt like it was just sitting there, being greasy and congealed. And definitely not stretching.

I guess the fundamental problem is that I wanted enough cheese in my Quesalupa to make it feel like a quesadilla/Chalupa combo, but that amount of cheese resulted in a fatty overload. It felt like a bogged-down Chalupa. And the pepper jack was very mild and didn’t add much flavor.

I might be taking an unpopular stance here, but I kind of wish they’d stuffed the Chalupa shell with nacho cheese. Would that make it messy as fuck? Hell yes. But I feel like you could add more of it, and get more flavor, without having the clumpy, greasy effect.

Is Taco Bell’s Quesalupa Bigger Than Everything (hashtag hashtag hashtag)? Hardly. In fact, while I was eating it I realized that I felt the Quesarito was a bigger success, and then I wanted a Quesarito instead.

Taco Bell Quesalupa

  • Score: 2 out of 5 green bricks
  • Price: $2.99
  • Size: 1 Quesalupa
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #022951
  • Nutritional Quirk: One Quesalupa has 40% of your daily fat covered, and you’ll feel it when you’re eating it.

Taco Bell Quesarito and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Taco Bell Quesarito Wrapper and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float FreezeSomething old, something new, something borrowed, something red, white and blue.

…Okay, that was super lame. But it seems thematically appropriate for Taco Bell’s new Quesarito and Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze. I moved a little while back and that really threw off my game, so I’m a little rusty. But I’m back! And here’s a double review for you!

Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell Quesarito

Here we have the something old and something borrowed. I think you can see where this is going. While the Quesarito is a new menu item, it has employed the classic Taco Bell technique of rearranging existing ingredients into a new configuration.

In case you couldn’t figure it out from the name or the inside of the wrapper (kudos to Taco Bell for making a unique wrapper for the Quesarito, as a side note), this is a burrito snuggled inside a quesadilla.

In Taco Bell’s own words, “The NEW Quesarito is the best of a quesadilla and burrito rolled into one! It’s filled with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, Chipotle sauce, reduced-fat sour cream, and then wrapped up in a grilled quesadilla loaded with melted cheeses.”

Taco Bell Quesarito Filling

I did not have high hopes for the Quesarito. Upon unwrapping it, I was impressed with the grilling marks. Upon cutting in half, I said to myself, oh hell yes.

Look at those globs of melty, melty cheese. Eating with my eyeballs alone, I was already sold. If that looks like an oozing mass of grease and fat, you’re right, and my heart sang at the sight. In a sort of choking, crying voice, but it sang nonetheless. I was expecting a sad, barely-visible layer of cheese hidden between two layers of too much tortilla, but I was so glad to be wrong.

There was another thing that there was also a hell of a lot of too – the Latin rice. In one of those classic cases of “who the hell made this?”, there was rice throughout, but all the ground beef was in one half and all the sour cream was in the other. In fact, by pure coincidence, the lines were drawn pretty much exactly down the line where I cut it for the picture.

The rice actually had a bit of flavor to it – it seemed to be the same rice as their Cantina rice, which has hints of lime and cilantro.

But, seriously, how hard is it to evenly distribute the meat and sour cream?

What was evenly distributed was the Chipotle sauce, and for once, there was an actual hint of chipotle flavor there, nice and smoky. Holy shit. It also had a nice kick, and they didn’t skimp on it. This paired great with the sour cream and with the gooey cheese. I’d actually like to see this as a sauce packet option in the future. I would put it on pretty much any Taco Bell item.

I want to give high praises to the Quesarito, in spite of the bizarre ingredient distribution, if just because of the surprising amount of cheese and the Chipotle sauce. However, soon after I got this Quesarito, I went and got another one, and on that one the cheese layer was almost non-existent, which really diminished the experience. So I have to knock it down a notch because, depending on who prepares your Quesarito, it’s either going to be solid or it’s going to be disappointing. It’s all about the queso.

Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Taco Bell  Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

Here we have something new and something red, white and blue. The second part of that sentence may be confusing until you realize that Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float came out in grocery stores first, and their packaging looks like everything Americana threw up all over it.

Taco Bell took that drink and turned it into a freeze. If you ask me, this was a great idea; the soda itself is already designed to taste float-like, so freezing it should just add to that experience.

The original Dr. Pepper taste was a little toned down, allowing the vanilla taste to come through. I found the vanilla flavoring to be somewhat less artificial-tasting than some other vanilla-spiked sodas I’ve tried. Maybe it was the unique flavor of Dr. Pepper when combined with the vanilla, but I was impressed. This paragraph is dying for a synonym for vanilla.

Taco Bell  Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze Close-Up

As for the float part, I really could taste a bit of floatiness coming through in the soda. Maybe it was the slushy-freeze element that helped that along, but there was a distinct creaminess to it that went beyond just vanilla flavoring. Maybe that’s why I felt it stood apart from the plethora of vanilla sodas already on store shelves.

Nothing is going to replace an actual ice cream float, but Taco Bell’s Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze is a pretty good substitute, especially if you like soda slushies. This is probably my favorite “commercial” vanilla soda creation I’ve had in a long time. Bald eagle stars and stripes fireworks Uncle Sam.

Taco Bell Quesarito

  • Score: 4 out of 5 oozing cheese blobs
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 1 Quesarito
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #029492
  • Nutritional Quirk: I’m betting the amount of cheese you get in your Quesarito will vary the calories by like, 500 either way.

Taco Bell Dr. Pepper Vanilla Float Freeze

  • Score: 4.5 out of 5 “is there another word for vanilla?”
  • Price: $1.00 (“Happy Hour” price)
  • Size: Regular
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #029492
  • Nutritional Quirk: A lot less calories and fat than a real ice cream float!

News: Taco Bell Introduces XXL Crispy Steak Taco in Its Continuing Effort to Get You Wearing Size XXL Pants

Taco Bell XXL Crispy Steak Taco, image courtesy Taco BellTaco Bell loves going XXL: So far they’ve gone plus-sized on their Chalupas, Grilled Stuft Burritos, and most recently, their nachos.

Not content to sit on their wide-bottom laurels, they’ve now gone XXL on their tacos, touting the new XXL Crispy Steak Taco as their “BIGGEST taco ever.”

According to Taco Bell’s press release, “The XXL Crispy Steak Taco features double the marinated steak, fully loaded with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, avocado ranch sauce and reduced fat sour cream, all in a new crispy shell.”

The XXL Crispy Tacos will launch at participating Taco Bells nationwide on February 27. The steak offering will be priced at $2.99, while the shredded chicken option will be $2.79 and the seasoned ground beef $2.49.

News: Taco Bell Wants to Get You Loaded with Two New Loaded Grillers

Taco Bell Loaded Grillers POP - Low ResStarting on January 23rd, joining the two already-existing Loaded Grillers (Beefy Nacho and Loaded Potato) are two new Loaded Grillers designed to taste like popular appetizers all rolled up in a tortilla.

The first is the Chipotle Ranch Chicken Loaded Griller, “Taco Bell’s take on a spicy chicken wing with ranch dip, and it includes grilled chicken, kicked-up chipotle ranch sauce and cool sour cream, all wrapped up and grilled for maximum portability.”

The second is the Chili Cheese Fries Loaded Griller, “Our version of loaded chili cheese fries, featuring savory chili, crispy potato bites and warm nacho cheese sauce, all wrapped in a tortilla and grilled.”

I’m honestly intrigued by both of these new offerings, although it sounds more like they should be calling them Stoner Grillers as opposed to Loaded Grillers.

I don’t know what price Loaded Grillers usually go for, but for a limited time all four offerings will be sold for $1 all day long, as opposed to just during “Happier Hour” (2-5pm).

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco and Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco SupremeTaco Bell first unleashed the Doritos Locos Taco upon the world early last year with their Nacho Cheese offering. The Internet could not have been more abuzz about it. A Taco Bell taco with a Doritos shell?! How could this be?

Every food review website on the planet was on this like…a food review website looking for blog hits. And yet, somehow, Junk Food Betty was strangely silent.

Why? I don’t know. I remember wanting to review it. And yet, somehow, it never happened. In fact, I never tried the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco. I felt like I was doing penance for my neglect by denying myself the experience, which sounds incredibly stupid when I type it out.

Thankfully, the junk food gods gave me a second chance. Much like its Nacho brother, the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco was announced as an upcoming Taco Bell menu choice well before it came out. And, like its cheesy brethren, it received major attention from the Internet. Taco Bell is doing it again? With Cool Ranch Doritos this time? The sales of fainting couches sold on eBay spiked all over again.

Here’s the thing, and I say this looking over my shoulder, waiting for the Internet buzz police to break down my door: to me, Locos Tacos sound pointless and boring. It’s a regular Taco Bell taco with Doritos flavor dust on the shell. It’s a food crossover designed entirely for the hype machine.

That said, I’m a goddamn sucker, and after missing out on Nacho Cheese, I damned well wasn’t going to pass up on the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. ONE OF US. ONE OF US.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

This taco launched on March 7th, but Taco Bell had a secret: if you asked for it, you could get one a day early, even if it wasn’t on the menu yet.

Did I say secret? What I meant to say was they advertised this fact on Facebook, Twitter, and the front page of their website. I’m surprised someone wearing a Taco Bell polo shirt didn’t knock on my door and yell “YOU CAN GET IT A DAY EARLY” when I answered it. Remind me not to tell Taco Bell about that thing I did that one time that nobody can ever know about.

And yet, some Taco Bell locations didn’t get the memo, and therefore people chomping at the bit for a Cool Ranch taco were met with blank stares, which pissed them off, especially since they’d probably gotten five phone calls from Taco Bell (some during dinner, some in the middle of the night) letting them know that they could get it a day early. Perhaps Taco Bell should have used some of this marketing energy to inform their own restaurants about this promotion.

I have to say, I’m rather fond of the packaging of Locos Tacos. The custom-made sleeve is presumably designed to keep your fingers flavor-dust free while letting you know you’re definitely eating a Doritos taco, but if you’re not worried about flavor dust when you eat Doritos chips, why would you care when you’re eating a Doritos taco? Whatever, it’s still cute.

A regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco contains seasoned ground beef, shredded lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese. This taco contains the same, except it’s wrapped in a Cool Ranch Doritos shell.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco Shell

Because Taco Bell’s regular Crunchy Taco is boring as hell, it’s been a really long time since I’ve had one. However, the Cool Ranch Doritos shell seemed a little thinner, like a regular Doritos chip. It also had all the flecks and markings of a Cool Ranch Dorito.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco Inside

Upon first bite, you get a little bit of that iconic Cool Ranch flavor, but it’s quickly swallowed up by the seasoned ground beef. However, the shell does have a nice crunch, and the flavor dust sticks to your lips, which gives you a little burst of Doritos flavor after you’re almost done chewing.

I was suspicious about Taco Bell’s choice to make Cool Ranch their next Locos Taco flavor. Nacho Cheese seemed like a natural (nachoral HAHAHAHA), but when I think taco, ranch isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind.

Lucky for me, even though I ordered a regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, mine came with a hidden surprise – sour cream! You wouldn’t think one innocent ingredient would turn things around, but I think the Cool Ranch combined with the sour cream made for a much more enjoyable Loco experience.

I’d like to think I got a rogue Taco Bell employee who knew this and was secretly slipping sour cream into each regular Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco. The more likely scenario is that the Taco Bell employee that made my taco didn’t give a shit about what they were doing because they work at Taco Bell. But the tiny optimist in me hopes for the former.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

Figuring that reviewing the Cool Ranch Loco in a (somewhat) timely manner was my penance, I decided to rock out a Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme.

Hey look, it gets its own branded sleeve! Still cute.

In case you weren’t aware, in Taco Bell speak, “Supreme” means “regular taco with diced tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream”.

Why is Taco Bell’s sour cream always reduced-fat? I never understood that. You could order the fattiest, greasiest thing on Taco Bell’s menu, which I don’t even want to look up, and if it contained sour cream, that sour cream would be reduced-fat. Weird.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme Shell

Ignoring the fact that I spend too much time thinking about Taco Bell’s ingredient choices, the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme offered no surprises. A lot of the words I wrote about the Cool Ranch variety apply here – the shell was a bit thinner, it tasted like Doritos, blah blah blah.

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme Inside

If anything, the Nacho Cheese Doritos flavor wound up being more muted than the Cool Ranch version. Maybe it was the gloriousness of the Supremity. Maybe it was pitting nacho cheese flavor dust against real (real?) cheese. For some reason, the Nacho Cheese just didn’t stack up compared to the Cool Ranch. A surprising verdict from my taste buds.

But you know what? I feel better. I feel catharsis. I have now reviewed the Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco.  Supreme.

Now that I’ve done my duty as a person on the Internet who talks about food reviewing Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos, I can summarize both pretty easily: they are amazing, mind-blowing, and worth every bit of the buzz they’ve received.

Wait, no, I said that wrong. Let me rephrase: these tacos have Doritos shells, which makes them a little less boring than regular Taco Bell Crunchy Tacos and Crunchy Taco Supremes. Hooray? Oh, right, and they have custom sleeves! Double hooray?

I didn’t think to check the prices of these versus their boring un-Dorito-shelled counterparts, but I’m assuming they’re the same. In that case, why not Dorito-ify your taco? It’s a little extra flavor added to an otherwise lackluster menu item. Hooray! Go Loco with the change you found in your sofa cushions.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco

  • Score: 3.5 out of 5 sour cream surprises
  • Price: $1.39
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989
  • Nutritional Quirks: OH MY GOD THEY MADE THE SHELL OUT OF COOL RANCH DORITOS

Taco Bell Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco Supreme

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 feelings of taco closure
  • Price: $1.69
  • Size: 1 taco
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989
  • Nutritional Quirks: Seriously, reduced-fat sour cream. WHY?

All those other guys who reviewed Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos (surely an incomplete list): The Impulsive Buy, Brand Eating, GrubGrade, Man Reviews Food, Fast Food Geek, So Good

Taco Bell Cantina Bowl

They did it.  They finally did it.  After years of jokes about Taco Bell just reusing the same half-dozen ingredients to create new menu items, The Bell flipped the bird in your face, teamed up with chef Lorena Garcia, and made a whole new line of products called the Taco Bell Cantina.
I bet you feel ashamed for making fun of them now, don’t you?

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover here, so let’s start with this mysterious chef Lorena Garcia. Who is she? What are her credentials? Let’s play Internet P.I.

First of all, she has no Wikipedia page. This immediately sets off red alarms. As far as I’m concerned, if it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, it either doesn’t exist or isn’t worth mentioning.

Junk Food Betty notwithstanding, of course.

That said, she does have some credentials, if you could call them that. She was on season four of Top Chef Masters. She did not win. She is on the current season of Top Chef Masters. Results TBD. She was a judge on America’s Next Great Restaurant. It was canceled after the first season due to low ratings. She has a website. She owns? Is executive chef of? Lorena Garcia Cocina restaurant. It is located in the Miami Airport. Concourse D.

No word on how many Michelin stars it has received.

Speaking of Top Chef Masters, here’s a fun little tidbit: during both the first and second episodes (the only episodes that have aired as of this post), Bravo aired Taco Bell Cantina commercials that focused heavily on chef Garcia. Hmmm. The show also airs this fine-print disclaimer at the end of every episode: “Winning and elimination decisions were made by the Judges in consultation with the Producers. Some elimination decisions were discussed with Bravo.”

I’m not saying there’s a conspiracy here or anything. Just…pointing that out.

Ooooookay, so we know who we’re working with, here. Now let’s see what we’re working with.

Working off the Taco Bell press release, chef Garcia worked with Taco Bell’s food innovators to come up with 26 new recipes, which they then narrowed down to 8.

These aren’t just eight new “recipes” using the same ol’ Taco Bell ingredients, however. These are eight new recipes using eight new ingredients.

The ingredients: “Whole black beans, cilantro rice, 100-percent all-white meat chicken in a citrus and herb marinade, guacamole made with 100-percent Hass avocado, fire-roasted corn salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, romaine lettuce and pico de gallo.”

Well, those certainly are a departure from Taco Bell’s current ingredients! That sounds sarcastic, but I’m actually serious. Minus the pico de gallo, which sounds rather similar to Taco Bell’s Fresco Menu’s “fiesta salsa”, these are all brand new and sound very promising.

The recipes: Cantina Bowl, Cantina Burrito, chips and guacamole, chips and roasted corn & pepper salsa, chips and pico de gallo, and cilantro rice topped with black beans.

I’m no math major, but I only count six new menu options there. To indulge Taco Bell, however, I’ll count their chips as a “new recipe”, since they are prepared in-store daily (which they presumably were not before), and count the rice and beans as two separate recipes. Okay, there. That makes eight.

Reviewing all eight new items would make for a lengthy review, and my verbosity is already embarrassing enough as it is. Thankfully, Taco Bell has made it easy for me – they’ve stuffed pretty much every new item into their Cantina Bowl. The official description: “Experience our new citrus-herb marinated chicken, flavorful black beans, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, roasted corn & pepper salsa, a creamy cilantro dressing, and freshly-prepared pico de gallo, all served on a bed of cilantro rice. Also available in Steak or Veggie.”

Wow, that’s a lot of…everything Cantina. I don’t know whether to thank Taco Bell for making my job easier, or curse them for having to go through an excavation journey to unearth, photograph, and taste each of these unique individual items.

If you’re wondering about the Cantina Burrito, just take everything I say about the Cantina Bowl and dump it into a tortilla. Seriously. It’s the exact same stuff, but instead of using a fork, you can eat it while you drive, dumping creamy cilantro dressing on your crotch, which will make for an awkward situation when you’re talking to the cops after getting into a fender bender while picking corn and beans off the front of your shirt. “Officer, it’s creamy cilantro dressing, I swear! …No, that is not a euphemism!”

Here we have the bowl, in all its seven-new-ingredients glory. Actually, make that eight? While Taco Bell’s description of the Cantina Bowl makes no mention of lettuce, it is obviously present, luring you into thinking you might actually be eating a salad. The most crowded salad in the history of salads.

This, however, is no salad. ‘Tis a bowl. My bowl was handed to me at the drive-thru by a man with a large bandage on his finger, covered by a plastic glove. Apparently he was not competent enough to cut tortillas into triangles for their in-house tortilla chips.

Well, he didn’t do much better at the drive-thru, as my Cantina Bowl was sideways in the bag he handed to me, and the lid was also not secured, resulting in some of my citrus-herb marinated chicken spilling into the bag and everything shifting sideways. I shook the bowl back into place and put the chicken back in when I got home, giving no fucks that it had touched the probably-unsanitary bag. I’ve eaten off worse.

Okay, let’s break this shit down. For my own sense of organization, we’ll go from bottom to top.

Cilantro rice:

Described by Taco Bell as: “Our fluffy white rice contains an authentic hint of cilantro and perfectly compliments any Cantina Bowl or Burrito.”

My experience: The rice was indeed fluffy and well-cooked; it was moist and tasty, but they must really be emphasizing the “hint” part of cilantro, because I detected no cilantro taste at all. And I know my cilantro.

Black beans:

Taco Bell: Described as “tasty and flavorful”. Not much to say about beans, I guess.

Me: As you might be able to tell by the picture, the beans were rather mushy. I didn’t mind, though; I love black beans, and these were full-flavored. Plus, their juices mixed in with the rice, which only added to the rice’s moistness and flavor.

Roasted corn & pepper salsa:

TB: “Includes sweet roasted corn and bright, beautiful red and green bell peppers.”

Me: The corn does, indeed, look roasted, and I was surprised that it actually tasted roasted, too. I didn’t really see any green peppers, but the little bits of red pepper added some nice color and a detectible bit of flavor.

Guacamole:

TB: “Our enticing guacamole includes real Hass avocados, ripe tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and a little kick of lime.”

Me: I call bullshit on this one. The guacamole does have a strong, authentic, delicious avocado flavor, but it’s more like avocado purée than guac. There are no chunks, and no taste of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, or lime, that I could tell. Hell, I’d still put it on just about anything I order from Taco Bell just because I love avocados, but don’t expect much other than creamy avocado that’s probably been pushed through a pastry bag.

Citrus-herb marinated chicken (also pictured above):

TB: “Our grilled, premium white-meat chicken is marinated in a savory blend of lemon and fresh herbs.”

Me: I take issue with the word “premium”, here. My immediate thought upon eating the chicken was of those Foster Farms pre-cooked chicken strips that come in the red pouches. The chicken was moist, but had a processed texture to it. There was a hint of citrus flavor, but not as much as I would have liked, and I don’t know what kind of herbs they used, but I couldn’t taste any of them.

Pico de gallo:

Taco Bell and I pretty much agree here. Tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. The tomatoes were fresh and the onions were crunchy, which are pretty much the only places you can go wrong with pico. I didn’t bother taking a picture because if you can’t imagine chopped tomatoes and onions mixed with cilantro, you have no culinary imagination. Plus, I was pretty tired of taking pictures at this point.

Creamy cilantro dressing:

Taco Bell has no specific description of the dressing on their website, and neither do I, because I couldn’t find an appreciable amount to take a picture of, nor could I really taste a specific cilantro dressing-like substance.

After carefully partitioning and tasting each of the individual ingredients, I was finally able to eat the Cantina Bowl in what I assume was its intended form, and by that I mean, I took my fork and mixed all that shit together into a giant mass of Cantina ingredients. The result? In this case, I’d have to say the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. While some of the ingredients were disappointing by themselves, with everything mixed together, there were lots of different textures, from the crunchiness of the corn and onions to the creaminess of the “guacamole”. I have to believe there was actually some dressing in there, because everything was very moist.

Overall, I have to say Taco Bell’s Cantina Bowl was just okay. There were some hits, like the texture of the rice and the flavor of the beans, and some misses, like the processed feel of the chicken and the disappointing lack of cilantro flavor, despite it being a key part of several ingredients. Also, the Bell makes a big deal in proclaiming that the lettuce is romaine, but it looked and tasted just like regular shredded iceberg to me.

I might give some of the other Cantina Bell items a try – maybe the bean and rice bowl, heck, why not throw some of that avocado paste on top – but the next time I go to Taco Bell, I won’t be getting another Cantina Bowl. I appreciate the effort TB took in revitalizing their menu, but the overall execution was lacking in the flavors it promised.

Good luck on Top Chef Masters, Lorena Garcia. Perhaps you’ll fare better there than you did at Taco Bell. And if Bravo and its sponsors have anything to say about it, I’m sure you’ll do just fine.

Other Taco Bell Cantina Menu reviews: Brand Eating, Fast Food Geek, GrubGrade, So Good, The Impulsive Buy

Taco Bell Cantina Bowl

  • Score: 3 out of 5 totally-not-rigged reality TV cooking shows
  • Price: $4.79
  • Size: 1 bowl
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989
  • Nutritional Quirks: I had this odd feeling I was eating something mildly healthy while consuming the Cantina Bowl. Sure enough, it has less calories and fat than the chicken Fiesta Taco Salad, weighing in at an impressive-for-fast-food 560 calories and 22 grams of fat.

News: You Cannot Stop It: The Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco Is Coming

Taco Bell is finally unleashing the monster.

Way back in April of last year, the news broke that Taco Bell was releasing the Doritos Locos Taco in test markets. Unfortunately, I didn’t live anywhere near one of them. But on March 8, they will be making this…thing available nationwide.

What is the Doritos Locos Taco? Well, basically it’s a regular Taco Bell taco with one ridiculous addition – a taco shell made out of Nacho Cheese Doritos. You can also get a Supreme Taco, which basically just adds chopped tomatoes and sour cream to a regular taco. With a Doritos shell

If you can’t wait to find out what a Dorito and a taco taste like together, Doritos is doing a “Hometown Tweet-Off”, wherein the person who gets the most retweets by Tweeting using the hashtags #DoritosLocosTacos and #Contest will get a visit from the Taco Bell Truck, which will give out Doritos Locos Tacos to the winner and their probably bewildered neighbors.

Sources: GrubGrade, Fast Food Maven

Food News: Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme for 88 Cents

After all the controversy over the amount of meat in Taco Bell’s seasoned ground beef, Taco Bell has been on a mission to let everyone know that it’s signature meat is 88% beef and the rest is delicious crack seasonings and…other stuff that make the beef so addictive tasty.

As part of this campaign, Taco Bell is offering its Crunchwrap Supreme, which contains said seasoned ground beef, for just 88 cents.  The Crunchwrap Supreme usually goes for $2.39 (may vary by location), so this is a great deal.  You’d be hard pressed to find another fast food offering as hearty for such a low price.  The 88 cents, of course, is in honor of the 88% beef contained within.

Of course, this is a limited time offer – this deal will only last until March 5th.  I’ve never actually had their Crunchwrap Supreme, but this seems like the perfect time to try it out.

Taco Bell Quad* Steak Burrito

Any Taco Bell employee will tell you that the most difficult part of getting hired on at Taco Bell is learning their bizarre, arbitrary system of weights and measures. A lot of people have a tough time learning that the amount of meat in a Steak Burrito Supreme is a “steak”, and that four steaks make a quad*, as seen here. And that doesn’t even come close to figuring out how much ground beef goes into a “fraud”, or how many jalapenos constitute a “volcano”. It’s like visiting a foreign country, except everyone speaks English and you can drink the water. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that working at Taco Bell is like going to Canada.

Does Canada even have burritos?

If you’re a faithful Junk Food Betty reader or aware of news in any way, you’re aware of some recent meat-based controversy surrounding Taco Bell. This was immediately followed by Taco Bell releasing their new, improved steak products, which are advertised as “thicker, tender steak” The timing of this makes me suspicious that this change in product might’ve been a bit rushed. “LOOK OVER THERE, AMERICA! NEW, IMPROVED STEAK! JUST STOP LOOKING HERE, AT THIS GROUND BEEF”. As the flagship item to showcase the new steak, they’ve launched the Quad* Steak Burrito and Quad* Steak Quesadilla. The Burrito is composed of the new steak, rice, salsa, sour cream (reduced fat for you fat fucks!), and cheddar cheese wrapped in a flour tortilla. It’s not an inspiring configuration of ingredients, to be sure, and can even be accused of being boring. However, it does have a lot of steaks going for it.

You may have noticed that this review, and Taco Bell’s website, have gotten pretty excited about the use of asterisks. This is to inform you, the consumer, that the Quad* Steak products contain four times the amount of steak as that found in a Steak Burrito Supreme. Except that advertising containing asterisks always makes people think that there’s some shady fine print bullshit going on. “What’s with the asterisks?” I can hear you thinking. “How many oats and soys are contained in this ‘meat’?” But you can rest easy, my suspicious friend. Taco Bell’s steak contains no oats, and less than a “kikkoman” worth of soy. There is no legerdemain. Taco Bell just really, really wants you to know precisely how many steaks you’re violently cramming into your sauce-stained, gnashing mouth-hole. The answer, by the way, is a quad*.

Upon purchase of the Quad* Steak Burrito, I immediately seized it from the bag and gave it a precise, bouncing heft to determine its girth. Clocking in at a quad* of steaks, I expected the item, about the same size as a Grilled Stuft Burrito, to have the density of a dying star. While not neutronium-heavy, it has a decent mass, similar to a “sob” of onions or a “blush” of beans. Upon tasting, the steak is obviously the star of the show, as the burrito is stuffed to the gills with the stuff. And it’s changed, as advertised, into thicker, tender pieces (not they don’t use the phrase “more tender”, as that would imply it was tender before and I think that’s illegal to say). The steak is pretty tender, while still being toothsome, and the pieces do appear bigger. Personally, I felt the flavor suffered quite a bit, likely due to being taken from a different cut of meat. It has a less assertive beef flavor that, while it works alright in this product, may not be able to stand up to some of the stronger ingredients in other preparations. This is disappointing, given my long-standing relationship with the Steak Baja Gordita. I’m sorry, baby. It’s not you, it’s me. Wait, actually, no. It’s you. It’s aaallll you.

A thousand times you. I'm actually pretty great.

The quesadilla was also sampled by the Junk Food Betty Division of Product Analysis and Unreasonable Judgement. Long story short, it’s the burrito with less rice and more cheese., and I’m sure you’re blown the Hell away by that. Both are $5 for a quad* of steak, or $4 for a double* of steaks. Given the prices, for $5 I’ll ravage their dollar menu or, better yet, head out of Blandsville and over to Chiptole or a local Mexican joint.

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 disappointing vacations to Blandsville
  • Price: $4.99 for Quad* Steak, $3.99 for a double* steak
  • Size: 1 quad*
  • Purchased at: Taco Bell #004989
  • Nutritional Quirks: 26 “bypasses” of fat