REVIEW: Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito

Remember that old horror movie The Fly? You know, the one where Vincent Price steps inside a teleportation machine but he doesn’t know there’s a fly in there with him so when he comes out of the machine, he turns into a horrible human-fly monster? Well, basically, that’s what Taco Bell’s latest limited time only offering is – except with way more avocado ranch sauce.

I keep trying to think of a more dignified way to describe the Loaded Taco Burrito, but the same sentence keeps popping up in my mind: “uh, guys, this is just a pureed taco wrapped up in a tortilla.” This may very well be the least inspired Taco Bell L-T-O of all time, but does the actual taste of the product offset its astonishing uncreativity?

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 2

First things first, the burrito is BIG. It’s easily twice the girth of the chain’s cheesy bean and rice burrito and it is absolutely stuffed with seasoned beef (really, enough to qualify for a double portion, maybe even a triple load.) The flour tortilla itself also seems larger and more flavorful than the ones the restaurant uses for its rank and file burritos, so that’s a nice touch, too.

As far as the other contents of the Loaded Taco Burrito, we’re primarily working with the all the usual supreme fixins: you’ve got some crispy lettuce in there, some diced tomatoes, some shredded semi-spicy cheese, a hearty dollop of sour cream and a big old squirtin’ of the Bell’s proprietary avocado ranch dressing (although you can always sub that out for one of the chain’s other dressings.) However, I want you to take a real close look at the interior contents of the LTB – notice anything peculiar?

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 3

No, your eyes aren’t fooling you. My local Bell decided to go rogue and replace the advertised crispy red tortilla strips with what is unmistakably – both visually and gustatorily – a regular old crunched up taco shell.

Normally, I would raise a great big stink about such brazen displays of franchisee rebelliousness, but I actually think it works better – conceptually and taste-wise – than it does with the tortilla strips included. And to think, some people say there’s no more ingenuity in the American workplace!

Taco Bell Loaded Taco Burrito 4

I hate to close a review by saying something as mundane and nondescriptive as “well, basically, you’re getting what it looks like,” but in the case of the LTB, it really does sorta’ review itself. The taco shell chunks/tortilla strips may be a bit superfluous for some consumers, but you really can’t complain about getting a double – leaning closer to triple – beef burrito.

And you certainly can’t argue about the price point, either – for just $1.50, you’re definitely getting a lot of bang for your buck (and a half, plus applicable state and local taxes.)

(Nutrition Facts – 550 calories, 260 from fat, 29 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 1130 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar and 20 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: It’s basically a double beef burrito at a discounted price. You can have a lot of fun mixing and matching house dressings. It’s definitely a filling little product.
Cons: All in all, it really doesn’t taste that much different from the chain’s other burritos. It’s impossible to eat it without getting seasoned beef juice all over everything. All those nights laying wide awake, wondering how in the hell they’re going to make a Loaded Burrito Taco work.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa

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.

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa 2

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.

Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa 3

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
Size: N/A
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.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

For being their titular item, I rarely find myself craving Taco Bell’s tacos. While I’m a lover of their items, the standard crunchy taco has always felt skimpy. A paltry line of beef, a cascade of limp lettuce, and a sprinkling of unmelted cheese – it’s forgettable.

So thankfully, the Bell has pumped them up for their latest iteration. Taco Bell’s Double Stack Tacos bulk up their classic standard tacos by wrapping the corn exterior with a flour tortilla, slathered in sauce and cheese. With an extra layer, each one is hefty – especially for a $1 item. Two of these could make a comfortable meal, something that can’t be said for the Bell’s un-enhanced tacos.

Taco Bell Cool Habanero Double Stacked Taco

First up is Cool Habanero. The taco is the same as you’d expect, but with a generous hit of sour cream. Around it is wrapped a flour tortilla with a spray of habanero sauce, alongside melted cheese. The intention is for the sour cream to counteract the spice, though the balance isn’t quite there. There’s more sour cream than habanero by a healthy margin, and the sauce isn’t all that potent. As a full bite, it came off blander than most Taco Bell items.

Taco Bell Nacho Crunch Double Stacked Taco

The Nacho Crunch Double Stack adds a layer of red tortilla strips to the basic taco, then surrounds it with a duet of nacho and shredded cheese. If you’ve lost count, that gives this one item three different forms of tortilla – and three total servings of cheese. Predictably, it tastes like tortilla and cheese.

The meat and lettuce are lost in this fatty carb bomb, smothered in gooey yellow. It’s puzzling why this option dodges the habanero sauce of the other two tacos, which would’ve given this a needed a kick of flavor.

Taco Bell Spicy Sweet Double Stacked Tacos

Most interesting of the trio is Spicy Sweet, featuring a sweet chili sauce unique to the item. The red sauce has a loose texture, saturated with chili flakes. It’s very sweet, but was applied conservatively across the meat. While the first bite was initially heavy on sugar, it was countered by the savory beef.

Once the habanero sauce broke through, all three flavors really clicked. The sweet chili sauce has a light heat of its own, and a bit of a fruit jam flavor. This tasty blend is spread a bit thin, though. Between the lettuce, corn tortilla, flour tortilla, and double helping of cheese – the serving of meat and sauces feels underwhelming.

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Overall, the Double Stacked Tacos are mostly notable for their price. The Nacho Crunch and Cool Habanero tacos are cheaper and bulkier than their counterparts – making them a solid pickup. Spicy Sweet is the real highlight though, and is definitely worth a try.

(Nutrition Facts – Cool Habanero – 350 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Nacho Crunch – 380 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Spicy Sweet – 340 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 640 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cool Habanero)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Nacho Crunch)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Spicy Sweet)
Pros: Very hearty for the price, while delivering classic Taco Bell flavor. Spicy Sweet variety is unique, and nails the sweet/savory/hot mix. Spices up otherwise boring tacos.
Cons: Cool Habanero needs more heat. Nacho Crunch should be Haberno Crunch. All three could use more meat.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Steakhouse Queso Nachos

Taco Bell Steakhouse Nachos

In 2012, Taco Bell offered XXL Steak Nachos that featured steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

In 2015, the chain sold their BOSS Nachos that featured steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

This year, Taco Bell has, for a limited time, Steakhouse Queso Nachos that come with — say it with me now — steak, sour cream, guacamole, pico de gallo, a three-cheese blend, refried beans, and…not nacho cheese sauce on tortilla chips.

This time it’s queso.

I’ve always liked Taco Bell’s limited time only nachos because they come in a container large enough that I can imagine I’m eating nachos from a trough. I just put my hands behind my back, like I’m bobbing for apples or throwing up into a toilet, and then just dig in.

The nachos’ highlight was the queso. It’s such a simple ingredient, but it added a nice creamy, cheesy, and spicy kick to everything. Okay, not everything. While the queso itself was great, the amount on the chips wasn’t. Maybe a third of them were topped with it, and that’s disappointing because it’s a step up from the nacho cheese sauce.

If I had to pick a lowlight it would be the tortilla chips. Under sections that had lots of toppings, the chips sucked whatever moisture they could and quickly got soggy. About half of the chips were in this condition by the time I got to eat them after a five minute car ride home. But I shouldn’t be surprised since that is the nature of nachos.

Taco Bell Steakhouse Nachos 2

As for the steak, sour cream, pico de gallo, three-cheese blend, and refried beans, all of which I’ve had (and you’ve had) in other menu items, my only complaints about them are not having enough of the tender, marinated steak to justify the high price, not having as much refried beans as the other toppings, and how unnecessary the three-cheese blend is because it doesn’t stand out at all with the other ingredients.

Overall, if you liked the previous steak nachos, I think these are a slight improvement thanks to the queso. And I’m sure you’ll like the future version of these nachos in 2017 or 2018 when they’re called Doubledilla Nachos or Great Steak Nachos.

(Nutrition Facts – 1130 calories, 500 calories from fat, 56 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 2210 milligrams of sodium, 116 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 40 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $7.99*
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Queso is a step up from the nacho cheese sauce. Large serving. Being able to pretend I’m eating nachos from a trough. Tender steak. Not exactly like the previous limited time only nachos.
Cons: Would’ve like more queso. The nature of nachos. Not having the food science that allows chips to remain crunchy longer than the flavor of Fruit Stripe gum. Not enough steak to justify price. Needs more refried beans. Useless three-cheese blend.

*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.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cheesy Core Burritos (Crunchy and Spicy)

Taco Bell Cheese Core Burritos

Without the Earth’s core, the Earth would die. Without an ooey gooey cheesy core, Taco Bell’s Cheesy Core Burrito would be lame.

Is it lame?

Well, all I can tell you is that it’s not as lame as making you read several paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

The Cheesy Core Burrito is available in two varieties — Crunchy and Spicy.

The Crunchy one is a burrito with seasoned beef, premium Latin rice, red sauce, and reduced-fat sour cream with a cheesy core that features a melted 3-cheese blend, nacho cheese sauce, and red tortilla strips. The Spicy version has almost the same ingredients as the Crunchy one, but instead of red tortilla strips, there are jalapeños. I decided to try both.

The burritos are two inches wide and 6.5 inches long. To be honest, it’s neat how it’s put together. It’s basically a tiny cheese burrito in the middle of another burrito. When I took it apart, it was like finding a fish in the stomach of another fish or seeing a Luke Wilson cameo in an Owen Wilson movie. It’s also…BURRITOCEPTION! Sorry. I’m sure someone would’ve written that in the comments if I didn’t mention it first.

Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burritos

Taco Bell Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito

Mine were made by two different workers. The spicy one was made with care and the crunchy one was made with I don’t care. My Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito had a centered distinguishable core, while the crunchy one looked like it was rejecting its core. I thought cutting them in half would cause cheese to ooze out from the center, turning the cross-section burrito photos I took into explicit food porn that may need some parts pixelated.

Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burritos

Taco Bell Crunchy Cheesy Core Burrito

Unfortunately, the cheese didn’t bleed out, but there’s a reason for that. There’s not a lot of cheese and there’s a lot more red tortilla strips/jalapenos than you’d expect. With both my burritos, they looked and tasted as if they had a normal amount of cheese. The cores weren’t even close to being as cheesy as the ads show them.

Look, I understand the rules of fast food — always know where the restrooms are whenever you eat it and it never looks the way it does on the poster. But when I bite into these burritos I want it to feel like I’m a cheese vampire and I’ve just punctured the jugular vein of cheese.

Texture-wise the tortilla strips were mostly soggy by the time I got to bite into them. So if you want to experience a crunch, might I suggest chomping on it the second you get them or get the Spicy one because the jalapeños have a nice crunch.

The best way I can describe the flavor of these burritos is to say they taste like Taco Bell. Because if you eat either one, I’m sure you’ll think to yourself, “I’ve had this before.” With both burritos the dominate flavors are the seasoned beef, sour cream, and the nacho cheese sauce. I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve tasted this combination from Taco Bell. The number of times I’ve experienced those flavors with jalapeños probably takes up one hand. It’s just the same flavors but in a different, albeit cool, package.

If I had to suggest a variety to try, I’d recommend going with the Spicy one because you’ll get spicy and crunchy in one. But overall, these burritos are lame because they lack a really cheesy core.

(Nutrition Facts – Crunchy – 630 calories, 26 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1530 milligrams of sodium, 76 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein. Spicy – 570 calories, 23 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1760 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.39*
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Crunchy)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Spicy)
Pros: Jalapeños have a little heat and are crunchier than the red tortilla strips. It’s cute how it’s a tiny burrito in another burrito. Earth’s core.
Cons: Tastes like Taco Bell. Cheesy core not very cheesy. Crunchy one needs to be eaten quickly to experience crunch. Making you read a bunch of paragraphs to find out if it’s lame.

*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.