Certain words repulse me and “smothered” is one of them. There’s pork chops smothered with onions; a mother smothering her child with kisses before she heads to school; a needy boyfriend who smothers his girlfriend; John smothers his father with a pillow so he can inherit the business…and now, Taco Bell’s Smothered Burrito. I don’t care how you use the word “smothered”, I hate the word.
Why couldn’t the product developers use Taco Bell-speak and call it a Mega-drencharrito or Hurricanarito complete with a limited edition Storm Surge High Pressure Front (or whatever they are calling it now) Mountain Dew? Ah but what do I know? I’m just a jerk who can scrawl a few words together.
I feel sorry for Taco Bell. With fast food being caught in the pretzel roll rage, what can they do to make their mark? And no, I doubt anyone is clamoring for a pretzel shell taco. Taco Bell’s solution is to take a burrito and drown it in delicious condiments as if it were on trial during the Salem witch hunts. Mmmmm….Salem witch hunts.
The burrito looks like a normal sized burrito which is relative depending who in the back makes it. I’ve had large ones, small ones and some that look like a malformed tumor. For arguments sake, let’s pretend it was a normal burrito we all picture in our minds.
Also, you get a choice of shredded chicken, seasoned beef or marinated thick cut steak. For whatever reason, the official website is really pushing the shredded chicken. I chose the seasoned beef because chicken is blandly ubiquitous and their steak makes me want to cry and punch golden retriever puppies in the face (not really but you get the point). You also get a plastic fork and napkins because you’re going to need them.
Initially, I was a bit queasy when I opened the lid because the scent combination of warm dairy from the sour cream and the vinegar’s acidic notes have the faint essence of vomit. It gets better, trust me. Way better.
The appearance reminded me of those 1970′s suburban mom casseroles that scream “It’s Mexican Night!!!” for dinner. A generous amount of cheese is dumped (not sprinkled) all over. Then to add a dash of faux-fancy, low fat sour cream is zig-zagged on top.
Secret: I’ll always love you Taco Bell but you’ll never be fancy to me. That’s why I love you.
Finally, the burrito sits in a well of the trademark tangy Taco Bell red sauce like a victim in a Brian De Palma movie.
The wet burrito (Wet-rrito) tastes so much better than it smells. Don’t worry, when you first cut into those layers of the burrito, the smell dissipates because that beef just overtakes it and whispers, “This is gonna be delicious.” It’s like bourbon, you just have to power through the oaky and woodsy notes some find unpleasant.
The first thing to hit my taste buds was the vinegary red sauce but it gives way to the rich beef and the smokiness of the creamy chipotle sauce. In addition, the Latin rice and beans add an earthy tone that’s needed to ground the deep flavors (Flavo-rrito!).
I don’t know what makes the rice Latin, but I’m not sure what any item in Taco Bell makes it Latin either. Who cares because the sauce the burrito is washed in tastes so good, it just lingers in the back of your throat well after you swallowed each bite. The burrito is complex in flavors, hefty, and has a dense texture.
But lest I forget, the melted cheese and the colder (not cold) creamy trails of sour cream really bring it all together. The cheese was actually stringy and had weight we are not normally accustomed to with Taco Bell’s melted cheeses (Melta-rrito!).
I’m aware it’s Taco Bell, but this burrito reminded me of honest home cooking. I was really shocked by how good it was. You know when you have to pee so badly and when you finally do, there’s that tingle that hits your tailbone? What I experienced with this burrito was the gastronomic equivalent sensation.
The only negative I can think of, besides the initial smell, is the strong vinegar lick of the red sauce. I loved it, but I’m the type that would drink Tabasco straight. Yet, I’m aware that the average person doesn’t have a strong penchant for it like I do. Oh, and if you’re health conscious (and why are you eating at Taco bell?), you may be floored that the sodium level is a gigantic 2,260 milligrams (Sodium-rrito!)
In the end, all we want is something that tastes good regardless of what it’s called. Taco Bell has achieved this. As much as I cannot stomach the word “smothered,” I’ll eat the hell out of a Taco Bell Smothered Burrito again.
(Nutritional facts – 710 calories, 35 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 75 mg of cholesterol, 2260 mg of sodium, 70 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugars, and 28 grams of protein.)
Item: Taco Bell Smothered Burrito
Purchased Price: $3.19
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The red sauce, the melted cheese was stringy, the rich beef and the red sauce again. The texture of the burrito. The feeling when you finally go pee. The zig zags of sour cream. The earthy heady beans. Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible.
Cons: The initial smell of the burrito when you open the lid. Salem Witch Hunts. The red sauce may be too vinegary for some. The word “smothered.” Colossal sodium amount. Brian De Palma’s Mission to Mars.