Well, it was only a matter of time, I suppose: Taco Bell has finally taken it’s Naked Chicken Chalupa national.
For those of you not in the know, the product’s first trial run was in Bakersfield, California, in 2015, with a second go-at-it in Kansas City, Missouri, last year. And while Taco Bell has hit us with a LOT of unusual menu offerings over the years (three words, folks: Cap’n Crunch Delights) a lot of people on social media thought T.B. was hoaxing ‘em this time around – I mean, really, a chicken chalupa?
No, it’s not a chalupa with chicken in it. The chicken itself is the chalupa. And if the same mad geniuses who brought us the Beefy Fritos Crunch Burritos and Waffle Tacos decided it was nigh time for Americans to eat a giant rolled up chicken patty with lettuce and avocado ranch dressing inside it, then by golly, it’s probably time to for us to eat some giant rolled up chicken patties with lettuce and avocado ranch dressing inside it.
Like the Doritos Locos Tacos, each Naked Chicken Chalupa comes with its own snazzy (and sturdy) paper holder. The chicken shell/patty itself is pretty darn big – about four ounces of rolled up breaded white meat, speckled with some traditional Mexican herbs and spices. There’s definitely some heat to it, but for those of you with tamer tastebuds, it probably won’t torch your tongue that much.
On the inside, we’ve got your usual Taco Bell stuffings – chopped lettuce, some diced tomatoes, a sprinkling of shredded cheddar cheese, and a hearty dollop of avocado ranch dressing holding everything together (sorry, those of you who expected a scoop of seasoned ground beef to be in there, too.)
All in all, it’s a pretty satisfying product that doesn’t taste anywhere near as weird as you’d imagine. In fact, you really don’t even feel the missing tortilla or hard shell after a couple of bites, and thankfully, the chicken patty isn’t oily or greasy so you don’t have to worry about poultry juice staining your khakis.
While Taco Bell’s breaded chicken can’t compete with the grand lions of fast food chicken sandwiches (Chick-fil-A, you have nothing to worry about here), the shell does have a very robust flavor and is surprisingly juicy. Nor does it taste terribly salty, which has always been my biggest complaint with the lower-tier fast food chicken patties out there.
Your mileage may vary on the avocado ranch dressing – I would’ve preferred a spicier chipotle sauce – but believe it or not, this thing doesn’t taste all that much different from your standard chicken taco.
Huh. Who would’ve thought the absolute strangest thing about quite possibly the strangest Taco Bell L-T-O offering ever would be just how peculiarly normal it actually is?
(Nutrition Facts – 440 calories, 270 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,090 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar and 20 grams of protein..)
Purchased Price: $2.99
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The chicken shell is big, juicy and flavorful. You can eat it without getting grease on everything within a one-mile radius. The avocado ranch dressing adds a nice little zing.
Cons: It really doesn’t taste that much different from a regular chicken taco. A couple of other in-house dressings probably would’ve been better choices. Staying up all night wondering what would’ve happened if I had asked the manager to put grilled chicken inside my chicken chalupa.