REVIEW: Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers

I have a confession, dear readers.

I am a weenie.

That’s right: I’m the guy who needs a tissue after a single Flaming Hot Cheeto. I’m the guy who thinks playing Doritos Roulette is cruel and unusual punishment. And Thai food? More like “I want to die food.”

And I’ve been mocked for it my whole life.

That’s why taking on the challenge of Taco Bell’s new Dare Devil Loaded Grillers, which come in three escalating levels of spiciness, was a personal quest for me. If I can handle these, maybe I can regain some self-respect. No longer will I quiver before a bottle of Sriracha.

So without further ado, allow me to channel my inner Dante and dive into these three tortilla-wrapped circles of Hell.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 2

First up was Mild Chipotle. The wrapper seemed to mock me with its condescending tone and mellow yellow colors. The insides were kinda squished together, but between the many, thick layers of tortilla were scant amounts of beef, plenty of gooey cheese, strangely damp wads of red corn chips, and the tempting beige sauce.

Flavor-wise, the toasty, grilled flour of the tortilla and the slight edge of the cheese dominated all else, with the sauce backing it up with a savory creaminess that had a palpably high fattiness. Little meatiness could be found, and the chips got too soggy to lend any sort of fun crunch. Regardless, as a fan of quesadillas, this tasted a lot like a pleasantly zesty one.

As for the spice, after finishing a bite I noticed a relaxed buzz in the back of my throat, but nothing even my greenhorn tongue couldn’t handle.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 3

Kicking it up a notch (shame on Taco Bell for not working in the phrase “kick it up a nacho” somehow), I bit into the Hot Habanero griller. Aesthetically, it looked nearly identical to its plain-Jane little brother, except with a much thinner and angrier looking orange layer of creamy sauce.

Compared to Chipotle, the taste here was like a “hot beef injection.” Wait, wait. That’s not what I mean. Don’t Google that, please. But anyway, the noticeable tang of the pepper made the smoky, seasoned beef flavor much more prominent here, with undertones of garlic and black pepper. Our “chipper” friends manage to pop in with a brief, hot corniness, too.

The heat was a slow buildup, so much so that I thought I was safe until my tongue and throat started to tingle and whimper like a dog who played with a porcupine (thank my German Shorthair, who took a faceful of quills to bring us that analogy). Fortunately, the steady burn wasn’t nearly intense enough that a long swig of milk couldn’t wash it out.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 4

But then it was time for Fiery Ghost Pepper. It was to be my personal final boss: my Bowser, my Ganondorf, and my last mine in a tense game of Minesweeper. Unlike its creamy siblings, this one just oozed a sinister, bubbly red liquid (okay, maybe I imagined the bubbles).

In terms of flavor, I was barely able to sense a salty combo of meat and corn chips before the acrid acidity of the sauce took over, with the harsh, concentrated pepper flavor overwhelming and seeping into all else. Even the formerly friendly cheese betrayed me and became pasteurized magma.

Et tu, nacho?

To seasoned veterans of seasoned spice, the heat may not quite be “1,000,00 Scovilles,” but it was enough to make me say “Sco-ly s***!” My tongue went numb to flavor, my throat resonated with capsaicin, and trying to wash it down with milk was as futile as Smokey the Bear crying tears of disappointment onto a forest fire.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 5

For a total price of $3, the Dare Devil Grillers were a fun novelty, but outside of Chipotle, I can’t imagine buying any for an actual meal (though they are large enough for one), since the burn takes way from the familiar flavor, which you could easily get from many of Taco Bell’s other items.

Since I can see my word count here is already starting to rival Dante’s Divine Comedy, too, and since I’m still nursing a crispy tongue, I think a brief haiku summarizing each Griller will suffice:

Chipotle, my friend:
Cheesy, zesty mayo-filled
Beef quesadilla

Habanero, oh!
Peppered meat, slow-building heat
(That sounded dirty)

Ghost pepper: need Tums
Like Pompeii, heat buries taste
Ow ow ow, owww, ow!

(Nutrition Facts – Chipotle – 420 calories, 200 calories from fat, 22 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 940 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Habanero – 380 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Ghost Pepper – 400 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers
Purchased Price: $1 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chipotle)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Habanero)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Ghost Pepper)
Pros: Flavorful beef with cheese and toasty flour tortilla. Unbeatable value. The sinful goodness of “palpably high fat content.” Conquering your personal Ganondorf.
Cons: Pain and heat mask flavor as you move up in heat. Only difference between Grillers is flavor emphasis. Soggy chips. The crushing betrayal of “pasteurized magma.”

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

When I sat down to write my review of the new Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights, I told myself I was going to avoid doing two things.

“Self,” I began with a stern but encouraging tone. “Longtime TIB readers know you have a bad habit of falling back on overstated nautical puns and maritime references when describing Cap’n Crunch and its variants. Stop being such a lazy writer and get off your crutch.”

(Lest you forget, take a look at the gem in the tenth paragraph of this review.)

“Oh, and while you’re at it,” the voice scolded. “Do not, under any circumstance, mention your theories about judging the merits of a fried product on the aftertaste of the burp you burp up two hours after eating.”

But after thinking about the Cap’n Crunch Delights and inadvertently burping up the unmistakably heavy taste of fried dough, I’ve concluded each of these goals is impossible. So I’m sorry; the Cap’n made me do it.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 2

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to tiny pieces of coral growing on, say, a sunken treasure ship, the delights are far from appetizing to look at. Bristling with tiny pieces of crushed up Crunch Berries cereal, they smelled unmistakably like a donut hole and little like Cap’n Crunch, while one piece had a not-so-subtle hole leaking a loose goo from its oily hull (caused from a clumsy broadside, no doubt.)

Taco Bell describes these as “light” and “fruity” but I thought they tasted heavy, oily, and remarkably synthetic. The outside coating only tasted a little like Crunch Berries; there was a vague fruity flavor but nothing remarkable or memorable, and certainly not that coconut oil aftertaste and brown sugar sweetness of Cap’n Crunch.

By far the dominant flavor was fried dough, and not in a light and airy way like a traditional donut hole. Nope, these “delights” were saturated in more surface oil than that which was left by the Exxon Valdez. The aftertaste—including that burped up aftertaste one experiences after happy hour at the Taco Bell soda machine—is strongly of fried dough; unmistakably heavy and in no way fruity at all.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 3

I was really looking forward to the gooey and “creamy” milk center, mostly because all the promo shots featured this really cool image of the filling suspended in midair, making it look like some grand accomplishment of food science and engineering. In actuality the filling is loose and runny, more like a melted coating of confectioner’s sugar and milk.

Frankly the warmth of the filling is off-putting. I mean who eats cereal in warm milk? Hello McFly! And the hyper-sweet flavor tastes way too much of stabilizers and not enough like something which may have, at one point or another, come from a cow. I felt like the sweetness needed some creamy richness for balance, but all the delights offer is a heavy flavor and oily texture.

I’m all for cobranding a mashups, and I get the fact that crappy cereal sales might spur the Cap’n to sail his ship with a millennial-savvy fleet like Taco Bell, but the Cap’n Crunch Delights are neither delightful nor crunchy, nor are they milky or fruity. Mostly they’re just plain bad, even by the standards of cheap fast food.

With any luck the Cap’n will be able to right his course and try the whole donut cobranding thing again, although next time I’m going to pray he doesn’t leave the helm to a Tex-Mex fast food chain.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 delights – 170 calories, 0 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 2.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights
Purchased Price: $1.09
Size: 2-pack
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Larger than an average donut hole. Inexpensive. Huzzah for cobranding!
Cons: Oversaturated in frying oil. Not crunchy. Poor Crunch Berry coverage. Doesn’t really taste like Crunch Berries, unless you eat your Crunch Berries in frying oil. Warm milk-like substances. My complete and utter failure as a writer.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 2

A review of Taco Bell’s new Diablo sauce, in five parts.

I. Mild: A Conspiracy

Taco Bell has opened a gate to hell. Proof: “Bell” rhymes with “hell.” Convenient. Seven layer burrito? Nine circles of hell. And there are actually nine layers if you count the tortilla and the Pepto Bismol that is actually essential. And latest of all, they’ve introduced Diablo sauce. Diablo, for the Latin-impaired, is Spanish for the mother-bleeping Devil. Maybe some of you know Diablo as “Stop playing that computer game and come to bed,” but for non-nerds they aren’t even trying to hide it. It’s called Devil sauce. Taco Bell has conjured El Diablo and is feeding us its hot fluids.

Other hell ties: The Devil is, like, half goat and Taco Bell does NOT serve goat because then we would be eating the Devil’s relatives; “run for the (south) border” can be simplified to “run south” and south (down) is where hell is; and somehow they consider cinnamon Cheetos a dessert. Unholy.

II. Verde: Fan Fiction Using Slogans Found on Taco Bell Sauce Packets for Dialogue

Grimace got down on one knee. “Go ahead, ask her,” whispered Fry Guy. Grimace cleared his throat. “Do it with passion or not at all. You can count on me.” The period at the end of the sentence hung in the air. He produced a ring and continued. “Let’s run away together. Marry me.” Birdie the Early Bird gasped, like she was watching a reality show and not herself in a crowded fast food restaurant being proposed to. This was unexpected. She stared ahead, lost.

Then in a true fight or flight moment, she flew. She was gone. Grimace, still on his knee, stammered. “You won’t…” His voice trailed off. Fry Guy’s face fell. “Not my first rodeo,” Grimace lamented. He dug into the pile of celebratory hamburgers on the table like it was a pie-eating contest. Tears streamed down his face, mixing with the food.

“You asked for it! Consider yourself warned! You made my day!” he screamed. Fry Guy’s face turned from pity to disgust as he mumbled under his breath, “That escalated quickly.” Grimace looked like a blubbering, rabid hyena tearing through a carcass. Fry Guy pulled out his phone to text Birdie. “Good choice,” he wrote.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 3

III. Hot: The Deal

“Kevin,” an employee said, as I was staring off into a Sangrita Blast machine. “Do you want sauce?” he asked. I snapped into reality and responded, “Do you have that new one?” I could only see four bins with the typical sauces. I didn’t want to have to go to another Taco Bell. His eyes lit up. “Diablo,” he said. He went into the back and returned, “They are very hot. I used them and you shouldn’t use more than three.” “Thanks,” I smiled. He paused before dropping the packets into my bag. “No more than three. Or bad things will happen. Very bad things. Promise me. Promise Diablo.” I nodded. One of his eyes were cat eyes. I turned to leave, then turned back. He was gone. He was gone because he left to serve another customer.

IV. Fire: Sauce to One Direction Analogy

Harry Styles: Fire

Zayn: Diablo

Other guy: Verde

White kid with the hair: Mild

Still one more member: Hot

V. Diablo: The Review

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce

The Diablo sauce delivers on all accounts. It’s spicier and has a numbing quality that the other options lack. Taco Bell’s other sauces, which have been pretty disappointing for as long as anybody can remember, go like this: Mild tastes like sour salsa, Verde tastes like green, and Hot tastes like tomato sauce mixed with ground pepper. Fire, the hottest sauce until Diablo came along, has stinging qualities that stab at the mouth but really tastes like a watered down Tabasco.

Diablo sauce begins with a pleasant smoky tomato flavor. It makes way for a prickly hum that builds into a heat crescendo and then dissipates fairly quickly, maybe after a minute or two. The spiciness definitely does not last as long as any of those weird hot sauces they sell in specialty stores. The numbness remains though, and cradles the mouth with a low heat that is not completely embarrassing for hot sauce lovers.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 5

The sauce plateaus, and does not seem to really ravage the face or senses that badly. I did sample three packets with a cheesy bean and rice burrito for an experiment (as per my agreement). The first packet gave a generous spice high. The second packet numbed my mouth to the point where it didn’t really matter what I was eating. My nose also started to run, but only a little bit. Packet three did not build on the previous one. I did not cry or reach for a milk. This was hotter than anything at Taco Bell, but nothing dangerous. This was not stunt hot sauce.

Taco Bell Diablo Sauce 4

Fire on top, Diablo on bottom.

The only knock is that it probably doesn’t pair well with most Taco Bell food. It simply walloped the burrito I ate. Taco Bell food is already fairly bland in a fast food sense and a sauce with this dimension obliterates any nuance the item may have had. I suspect it may go better with items that contain sour cream or steak, or things with stronger flavors to balance it out. Most things will probably end up tasting like spicy soft stuff or spicy crunchy stuff, though.

The liftoff and leftover tingling are the highlights of the sauce and I would recommend between one or two packets per meal, or taking breaks to let the heat subside so you can ride Diablo again. All hail Diablo.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Item: Taco Bell Diablo Sauce
Purchased Price: Free with purchase
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great heat, new dimensions. Does not linger too long. Tingly feeling.
Cons: Hard to complement with Taco Bell food.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla

When I first heard that Taco bell was adding Crispy Chicken to their list of ingredients, my first thought was, “Why didn’t they do this sooner?” Then, “Well, that’s not exactly a staple of Mexican cuisine. And then, “Yeah, but neither are Cinnabon bites,” which ultimately led me back to my first thought.

In line with Taco Bell’s style, they didn’t just introduce Crispy Chicken, they sprayed it all over their menu like a frat boy hovering over a toilet after too much Pinnacle Cinnabon Vodka. You’d think this review was about Cinnabon, but it’s not.

The Bell has done everything from the simplicity of wrapping chicken in a tortilla and calling it a Griller, wrapping it in a biscuit and calling it a Biscuit Taco, and throwing it in a Crunchwrap and calling it a Chickstar.

And, not to leave any corner of the menu untouched, we come upon the subject of this review: the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla. Why is this one Double? I wondered that myself, until I noticed the tiny, tiny asterisk on Taco Bell’s website that explains “*as compared to the 1.5 oz. Chicken Quesadilla.”

Oh, okay.

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla Inside

Taco Bell says the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla “features new premium all-white-meat crispy chicken that’s marinated in bold Mexican spices, rolled in a crunchy corn tortilla coating, and crisped to perfection combined with a three cheese blend and a creamy jalapeño sauce all folded in a freshly grilled tortilla.”

True to the name of this site, I impulsively bought two of them. I don’t usually do this with new items, but…well, I was hungry. And I like quesadillas. And I live on the edge. The edge of not knowing if this quesadilla would suck.

The first quesadilla I tried (which is the one pictured) was quite disappointing. Almost completely lacking in both cheese and sauce, it just tasted like chicken and tortilla, which was dry and sad.

Fortunately, my second quesadilla, despite being purchased in the same order, was much better! There was a decent amount of cheese and creamy jalapeño sauce, which to me tasted more like The Bell’s already-existing Fire sauce in a cream base (probably the sour cream that I’m pretty sure they squirt out of pastry bags). It was still quite tasty, and added both spice and moisture.

As for the Crispy Chicken, whatever “bold” Mexican spices they use as a marinade, they don’t shine through at all in the finished product. The tortilla coating, however, added a nice crunch that didn’t get soggy even when exposed to sauce, and it added a flavor that differs just enough from other fried chicken to make it notable.

Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla Half

Even though the chicken inside the quesadilla amounts to nothing more than chicken strips in regards to structure, I feel that Taco Bell lived up to their “double” promise. There was a hearty amount of chicken in almost every bite (I don’t count the ends because the ends of fast food quesadillas are always a wasteland), and the meat was moist and tender.

All things considered, Taco Bell’s Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla is a pretty middle-of-the-road offering. I like the new crispy coating and was impressed by its ability to stay crunchy, but the sauce didn’t taste very unique (although it did add some heat). The overall product was somewhat boring.

Plus, my first quesadilla was really disappointing, and when you’ve only got three ingredients to showcase inside your tortilla, I think you should make sure they’re all up to par. If you’re a big fan of the new Crispy Chicken and like quesadillas, it’s worth a try, but maybe more as a side item to the rest of your order.

(Nutrition Facts – 720 calories, 380 calories from fat, 42 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tortilla coating was a little different and stayed crispy. Impulsively buying two paid off. Lots of chicken that was moist. Sauce had a bit of kick.
Cons: Sauce wasn’t unique. Spewing cinnamon bun vodka. One of my quesadillas lacked cheese and sauce. Are sour cream pastry bags a pro or a con? A somewhat boring menu item. Holy crap, that’s a lot of fat in one quesadilla.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Jalapeño Honey

I’m no Spock, but the price for Taco Bell’s new Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco is highly illogical.

Taco Bell is known for having cheap food. Breakfast menu items at restaurants are usually cheaper than what’s offered for lunch and dinner. So why is Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco on the breakfast menu so damn expensive? It’s a piece of breaded chicken in a flat biscuit with a sauce. That’s it.

I paid $3.79 for mine. Granted, as I’ve mentioned before, I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where most things are subjected to something called the “Paradise Tax.” But my fellow fast food bloggers paid prices that I would consider high for a taco. Ryan at Grub Grade paid $2.79 and Q at Brand Eating paid $2.69. If you’re a morning grump, I imagine the price of a Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco and seeing what you get for that price will make your disposition worse.

The flat biscuit is as pliable as a pancake and has a little buttery flavor, but its less sturdy than its predecessor, the Waffle Taco. After the first bite, the biscuit split at the fold due to the biscuit’s dryness. If there were smaller ingredients, like Taco Bell’s bacon bits, I imagine the biscuit falling apart would cause a mess. But since there just a chicken finger and sauce, there’s no worries about the taco’s contents falling out.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco Closeup

The lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken has a breading that has crushed tortilla chips. It’s surprisingly crispy, even after a car trip ride home, but the pressed chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

When you order the Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco, you have the option of getting it with either Jalapeño Honey or Country Gravy. I tried both. They came in small take out sauce containers that had enough sauce for two Biscuit Tacos. It’s different than the syrup that came with Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, which was in a McNugget sauce-like container.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Sausage Gravy

If I were to order these Biscuit Tacos again, I would definitely get the Jalapeño Honey over the Country Gravy because the white peppery gravy is bland. I think it would go well with Taco Bell’s sausage, because they would enhance each other. But I can’t say it does the same with the Crispy Chicken.

But I can say the Jalapeño Honey and the lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken do enhance each other. The Jalapeño Honey is sweet, thick, sweet, tangy, sweet, and has a slight kick. The two go together well enough that they almost make me forget about the biscuit falling apart, the thinness of the chicken, and the Biscuit Taco’s price.

Instead of special Biscuit Taco-labeled sleeves, my Taco Bell Biscuit Tacos rocked Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco sleeves. I don’t know if it was a mistake caused by the fast pace in a fast food kitchen or if they ran out of the Biscuit Taco sleeves. But after eating these Crispy Chicken Biscuit Tacos, I feel they were appropriate because I wish I ate a Doritos Locos Tacos instead of the one with Country Gravy and I wish the Jalapeño Honey one, while tasty and definitely better than any Waffle Taco, was the same price as a Doritos Locos Taco.

(Nutrition Facts – Jalapeño Honey – 470 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Country Gravy – 390 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco
Purchased Price: $3.79 each*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Jalapeño Honey)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Country Gravy)
Pros: Jalapeño Honey. Chicken has breading with frickin’ crushed tortilla chips. Crispy chicken remained crispy even after a car ride home. Amount of sauce given was more than enough.
Cons: Country Gravy. Pricey for what you get. Thin biscuit was a bit dry and easily cracks at the fold. Chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.