REVIEW: Taco Bell Rolled Chicken Tacos

Taco Bell Rolled Chicken Tacos Package

Say what you will about Taco Bell’s recycling of ingredients when introducing new menu items, but I will say this – they do enjoy getting creative with tacos. Whether they’re turning a Dorito into a shell, or wrapping a taco around another taco, playing origami with tortillas is not their weak spot.

And thus, the next iteration of the taco has arrived at Taco Bell: Rolled Chicken Tacos.

“Aren’t rolled tacos called taquitos?” You’re asking yourself right now. Or maybe you’re not, but it was my first thought when I saw them. The short answer is yes. I’m glad we cleared that up.

I associate these two terms with two different things, however. Whenever I visit a taqueria, I see them listed as rolled tacos on the menu. But when I visit the frozen food aisle of the grocery store, I see big boxes of taquitos.

In fact, growing up, my parents’ freezer was not complete without a big box of El Monterey or Delimex beef taquitos. It was my dad’s thing. I think he gave them out at the hospital when I was born in lieu of cigars. They tasted as cheap as they cost, but when you’re a ravenous prepubescent, the perfect food is something you can throw in the microwave, eat with your hands, and dunk into a puddle of Pace Picante.

Strangely, beef isn’t an option when it comes to Taco Bell’s Rolled Tacos. It’s chicken or GTFO. I don’t understand this decision, given that Taco Bell has loads of ground beef hanging around that would fit perfectly into a fried tortilla tube, but here we are. I have no choice but to be poultrified.

While it seems self-explanatory, I should let you know how Taco Bell describes their Rolled Chicken Tacos: “Rolled Chicken Tacos are crispy tacos rolled up with marinated all-white-meat shredded chicken.” Again, so glad we cleared all that up.

The Rolled Tacos also come with your choice of five, that’s right, FIVE different dipping sauces: Nacho Cheese, Premium Guacamole, Salsa, Reduced-Fat Sour Cream or Taco Bell’s new Spicy Ranch.

My mouth wanted to go with guacamole, but knowing that the Spicy Ranch was new, I had to pick that. Spicy Ranch is about as Mexican as dipping your rolled tacos in ketchup, but we are talking about Taco Bell, so hey.

Taco Bell Rolled Chicken Tacos

When Taco Bell says “crispy”, what they really mean is “deep fried”, and boy are these Rolled Chicken Tacos. Upon removal from their sleeve, the delightful scent of fried tortillas wafted into my nostrils. The tacos were dark and glistening with grease. Yesss.

The texture of the tacos was indeed crispy, but not so much that they were mouth-hurty, and there was a nice, greasy give in the middle. The meat-to-tortilla ratio was pretty much spot-on; I expected them to be underfilled, but the chicken wasn’t overwhelmed by the tortilla.

The chicken itself was moist and surprisingly flavorful. When you’ve only got one ingredient going on inside a taco, it’s important to get it right, and Taco Bell did a pretty good job. Whatever marinade they used kept the chicken juicy and added seasoning and a nice little kick to what could easily have been bland, shredded meat. My favorite part were the bits on the end that had turned crunchy from the frying process. I could eat a whole stick of crunchy, deep-fried chicken.

Taco Bell Spicy Ranch

As mentioned before, dip is important when it comes to taquitos. In regards to Taco Bell’s new Spicy Ranch, I found it to be lackluster, and this is coming from a person who will dip pretty much any chicken product into any ranch product. It wasn’t bad, it was just terribly generic.

I don’t know what they used to spice up the ranch, but it had a slightly orange-ish tone with little red and green flecks. It was thick, which was good – nobody wants a runny ranch when they’re dipping – and Taco Bell was generous with their portions, as I got two cups with my four rolled tacos. In the end, though, it was just ranch with a bit of a kick, and nothing more.

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by Taco Bell’s Rolled Chicken Tacos. The corn tortillas were deep fried to just the right unhealthily greasy and crunchy texture and the chicken was prominent, juicy and well-marinated. While the Spicy Ranch did nothing to wow me, there are four other dip choices for your perusal.

At the price of $1.99 for two tacos and one dip or $3.99 for four and two dips, these make a fine snack or appetizer to your Fourthmeal. There’s also a “duo” (I don’t know what that means) 12-pack.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 rolled tacos – 520 calories, 200 calories from fat, 22 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 940 milligrams of sodium, 58 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, and 20 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Rolled Chicken Tacos
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4 tacos and 2 dip cups
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tortillas were just the right amount of crispy. Origami tacos. Chicken filling was juicy and well-marinated. Makes a cheap but satisfying snack. Taquito Cigars.
Cons: Forced poultrification. Spicy Ranch was lackluster. Things that are mouth-hurty. Unhealthy amounts of grease (if you consider that a con).

REVIEW: Taco Bell Doritos Nacho Cheese Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Doritos Nacho Cheese Cheesy Gordita Crunch

The griffin is an awesome mythological creature with the body and tail of a lion and the head, wings and talons of an eagle. And it is a beast. I’m talking “beast” as in Marshawn Lynch, not Hank McCoy.

The griffin was thought of as the king of beasts, and many times was known to guard treasure or rewards. But here’s the thing, my ancient dummy friends, you didn’t need to invent the griffin. An eagle is pretty scary already. Hell, a bird is scary. One time in junior high I rode my bicycle through a field and scared up a murder of crows and they circled my head for a quarter of a mile. I almost started going to church regularly.

And don’t get me started on lions. One time in junior high I rode my bicycle through some plains and scared up a pride of lions and I died. They ripped me limb from limb. Or that’s what would have happened if I did ride through some lions. Don’t let that lie cloud up that first story. The birds thing is super true. Anyway, the concept of the griffin is a little overkill. That’s all.

The Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch (DCGC) is a fusion of two beloved Taco Bell items, the Doritos crazy tacos and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch. The fanfare for this product has been noticeably muted, unlike when the Beatles went on Ed Sullivan and ate those Doritos Locos Tacos for the first time in America.

The DCGC promises flatbread with a three-cheese blend that encases a Doritos hard taco with ground beef, lettuce, cheese, and pepper jack sauce. In theory, it’s an exciting conference of the best of the best, like the Olympics: The hard-soft dynamic of the Cheesy Gordita Crunch with the bold flavors of the chip taco. In practice, watching pole-vaulting for fifteen minutes is fun once every four years.

To refresh my memory, I purchased a plain Cheesy Gordita Crunch, and boy, did it deliver. The satisfying crunch of the hard taco shell through flatbread is just so great. And the contrast of cold, crisp lettuce to the warm sodium bomb of ground beef seems so balanced. But those are the places the Doritos version gets it wrong.

Doritos Nacho Cheese Cheesy Gordita Crunch 2

The DCGC: Nacho Cheese Edition is made from the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco, which is thinner than the non-Doritos taco. I ate two of these, about half a week apart at different Taco Bells, and the first time the hard taco shell tasted stale. The second time was better but still could not compete with the rigidity and crunchiness of the plain version.

Because the hard taco shell is flavored, it spins the entire flavor profile off its axis. Everything is now covered in Doritos dust. The three-cheese blend is lost in redundancy and the whole item is salty like a dull wave of cheesy numbness instead of small bursts of salty zest with the plain version. The Doritos flavoring itself is consistent with the brand and is fine, it just overlaps some of the other elements.

Taco Bell is pushing the Doritos collaboration pretty hard. It’s as if they think I’ll come running if they stick two brands together. Sure, I ate Burger King Cinnabons. Sure, I ate Reese’s Oreo Cookies. Sure, I’ll eat a ream of wet printer paper if Staples and Popeye’s put their names on it. Wow, I feel like a sucker. There are so many brand logos on these things it’s like eating a NASCAR car. Though, if we did have to eat NASCAR cars, I’d probably go with Pepsi Max over Tide or Verizon.

Overall, the Doritos Nacho Cheese Cheesy Gordita Crunch: Special Victims Unit is not horrible — it’s still a soft bread with a hard taco inside. But it does not live up to the original. We all figured out at 10 years old that making homemade nachos with Doritos chips didn’t turn out as gloriously as we had hoped. The crunchy, corn base is the stage that allows the flavors to dance, but the Nacho Cheese Doritos shell wants to be the stage and the dancer at the same time. When Doritos are involved, there are too many dancers on the stage.

(Nutrition Facts – 490 calories, 250 calories from fat, 28 grams of fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 1 gram trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 880 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, and 20 grams of protein.)

Item: Doritos Nacho Cheese Cheesy Gordita Crunch
Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Soft on hard. Nacho Cheese Doritos flavoring is fine, but overlaps other ingredients. Still a version of the Gordita Crunch family.
Cons: Does not improve on Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Fails at what makes Cheesy Gordita Crunch great in the first place. Being a sucker for brand collaborations.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell is a terrifically sad place at 7:30 in the morning. It looks depraved and miserable and…oh no, is that father buying a Taco Bell breakfast for his six-year-old? Dear God.

All around me, every patron sported the same placid expression of someone who was not only giving up on their chance for a nutritious breakfast, but also in some small way on themselves. As I waited in line, now one with the other early-morning crew, I was overcome with the unshakable feeling that this was the start of my very long, slow decline.

“Well”, I said to myself. “Burritos always make me feel better.”

Enter Taco Bell’s Grilled Breakfast Burritos, one of the latest Taco Bell breakfast offerings and the temporary antidote to my morning sadness. Available in three varieties—steak, sausage, and Fiesta Potatoes-I went for the latter. Fiesta Potatoes, for those of you who aren’t as talented with language as I, roughly translates to “party potatoes.” And I like to party, especially when there are potatoes involved.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 1

The burrito itself has some pretty simple ingredients: eggs, nacho cheese sauce, and the Fiesta Potatoes all wrapped in a little grilled tortilla sleeping bag. The eggs, which are reheated scrambled eggs, actually have a pretty nice texture that avoids being too squishy. Although, like most hastily prepared eggs, it’s not exactly packed with intense flavor. The nacho cheese sauce, which does a great job of keeping everything from being too dry, also suffered from being pretty bland.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 2

The real flavor in this burrito lies in the Fiesta Potatoes. A spiced out version of traditional diner home-fries, these crispy potatoes gave the burrito a little crunch, and a mild, but tasty, peppery kick.

However, because I am pretty sure I am the first person in Rhode Island to ever order the Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito, mine also included pico de gallo. Seriously, I could hear a cook in the back uneasily asking his equally uninformed manager about the ingredients, unsure of whether or not to include the condiment. It was decided to go for the middle ground, and scoop out a smidge. But I may have just gotten lucky.

Though I did really enjoy this burrito (despite how miserable it is to frequent a Taco Bell before noon), I have to say that the Grilled Breakfast Burrito may just be the least “Taco Bell” item on the Taco Bell menu. In fact, if you changed the word “burrito” to “breakfast wrap” I could easily see this being on the breakfast menu at McDonalds or Burger King-even without showcasing any southwestern flare. Either way, while it certainly isn’t the start of a Special K day, it’s a filthy cheap, quick, and damn good burrito. It’s also a great pick-me-up from the early morning Taco Bell blues.

(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 130 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pretty large and filling considering the price. Fiesta Potatoes have enough spice to give the burrito sizeable flavor. The eggs have a good scrambled consistency.
Cons: Holy hell! I do not like being in Taco Bell in the morning. Seriously, it is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. The burrito is also a little bland.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 001

I’m a big fan of breakfast. Like most things bad for us, it has that magical power of wrapping together comfort food and guilty pleasure into an eternal dance. It’s like the edible yin and yang: bacon and eggs; pancakes and syrup; butter and toast; chicken and waffles; bourbon and Frosted Flakes. You get the point.

And with that great pleasure comes the other end of the spectrum, uncontrollable rage. There was this time when I had thick cut bacon that was overcooked to hell. I’ve seen relics that remained from the ghastly A-bomb drop in Hiroshima that were less scorched. This built up my inner rage to a maximum, ruining my day.

I also once threw a disproportionate fit at a hipster breakfast joint because the promised rye toast finally came when my wife’s southern fry plate was half done. A lot of beards, let alone my patient wife, were unhappy with me that day.

I just ask for one simple thing, please don’t fuck with breakfast.

When Taco Bell first introduced their breakfast line, particularly the breakfast burrito, I was disappointed and pissed off. How can one mess up salty, fatty, porky sausage and eggs with melted cheese wrapped in a tortilla? Taco Bell did.

In fairness, everyone deserves a second chance even if someone rendered so much fat from thick cut bacon, I’ve seen Ethiopians that were chubbier (Zing! The 80’s want their tasteless jokes back). Taco Bell updated and tweaked their brekkie line with new menu items, which is a sign of encouragement to their dedication to the breakfast menu.

The Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito comes with bacon, sausage, or their questionable and dreadful steak. Simply put, this is an upgraded breakfast burrito from the original and comparing the two is like comparing a greasy road map (the ones you have to annoyingly fold back correctly) to a GPS.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 004

I ordered both the bacon and sausage to appease my piggy meat breakfast fervor. The first sign I knew the Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito was traveling on a different path from its predecessor was how surprisingly weighty it was. There was a comfortable heft to them that whispered, “I’m the real deal jackass.” The warmth of holding it in my hand was comparable to pulling fresh boxers out of the dryer on a cold morning.

Sinking my teeth into the Grande Scrambler Burrito with bacon, I immediately noticed the eggs were fluffy and looked scrambled. They were rich and buttery, the way my Grandma never made because she made me eat ginseng root soup instead…stupid Grandma!

The warm nacho cheese sauce, which normally makes me gag because I hate that stuff, worked well with the cold sour cream. They melded in supreme fashion together and the slight acidity of the sour cream cut right through the heavy nacho cheese. There to add another layer of flavor was the pico de gallo. It had fresh chunks of tomato, which also coursed successfully through the heavy nacho cheese sauce.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 005

The bacon was in “Bacobits” style, but that in no way muted the salty and crispy bite we demand. I do wish the chunks were bigger to make the bacon flavor more prevalent, but it’s there. The melted shredded cheddar cheese was surprisingly not drowned out by the nacho cheese sauce and it competed well with the tanginess from the pico.

However, the true star of these burritos were their “seasoned breakfast potatoes.” They were perfectly seasoned and had a hybrid tater tot/home-fries like consistency. The only way these could be better is if they were actual tater tots. The potatoes add a satisfying texture to the delicious gloppyness of the burrito. To crank the achievements even more, the tortilla was fluffy and warm like a pillow birthed from a smiling cartoon cloud pooping a rainbow.

Taco Bell Grande Scrambler 006

With that said, the sausage one yielded even better results. The sausage’s peppery flavor imparted a nice compliment to the chunky pico de gallo and it swathed right through the nacho cheese sauce. Although the sausage was in that crappy “kibble” form, it still provided that salty and fatty mouthfeel we crave. Again, the melted cheese and potatoes nicely rounded out the burrito. This time, Taco Bell was less heavy-handed with the sour cream which was fine because it could easily wash away the spicy notes from the sausage.

The price is $2.49 for each, which seems reasonable to me considering the generous size of the burritos. I’m not one of those old timey types that cry out, “you get what you pay for.” Despite that, like scotch or dildos, you really get what you pay for in regards to a breakfast burrito.

The quality is not anywhere near you would get from a good breakfast house that seductively charms you with the aroma of bacon and fluffy pancakes. Yet, for fast food, it really puts some of those meager fast food breakfast burritos to shame. Taco Bell set the bar pretty high and I would bet, if it didn’t violate my probation, that some of the other chains may follow suit. If not, they’re stupid idiots like my grandma who fed me ginseng root soup for breakfast.

(Nutrition Facts – With Bacon – 680 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1570 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 22 grams of protein. With Sausage – 670 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 195 milligrams of cholesterol, 1410 milligrams of sodium, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugars, and 19 grams of protein)

Item: Taco Bell Grande Scrambler Burrito (Bacon and Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: The melted cheddar cheese, the warm nacho cheese sauce, the sour cream and pico de gallo all complement each other. The potatoes are texturally and flavorfully awesome. The $2.49 price tag is more than reasonable. Piggy Meat Breakfast Fervor (best name for a band that never existed). Getting angry and shouting.
Cons: The bacon could be bigger, thus the bacon flavor would be more prevalent. The sausage is in “kibble” form. When servers bring toast late, it’s like the fries come last after you have received your cheeseburger. The spouse dealing with you getting angry and shouting.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell Quesarito

Taco Bell has a new item, and instead of rearranging the same ol’ ingredients in a new format like they usually do, they’ve taken to rearranging names of existing foods. The Quesarito is a portmanteau of “quesadilla” and “burrito,” and features meat, sauce and rice wrapped in a tortilla with a layer of cheese around the inner core.

Hmmm, I guess they are just using the same ol’ ingredients too. Like a boring mad scientist. Like if Dr. Moreau kept promising a herd of hybrid leopard-men but just kept putting the legs of rats on legless rat bodies. You know what, though? That’s still pretty impressive. And you know what else? The Quesarito is also pretty impressive.

Maybe the greatest thing about the Quesarito is that it doesn’t really taste like it comes from Taco Bell. It has Taco Bell elements, sure: a disregard for fresh vegetables, a runny sauce that coats all the ingredients, it emanates nuclear fast food warmth.

But the Quesarito has heft. It has substance. Other Taco Bell items often feel chintzy, like they are designed to run through our bodies as fast as possible. Tasty, edible garbage. The Quesarito feels like food. I feel comfortable even calling it a “gut bomb.” And from my experience, the Quesarito comes with a free sizeable nap.

This is thanks to a couple things. It’s a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla, so the tortilla is actually doubled up, which makes it chewier. The rice is also new. It’s “Latin rice,” which I guess means it was a loser studying a dead language in high school. But you can pick out individual grains and it’s cooked more al dente than the rice in other sister items. Biting into a Quesarito, you can sense full, sturdy ingredients. Seems like maybe they took a look at the modus operandi of one Chipotle restaurant and decided to go sic semper tyrannis on ‘em. Side note: anyone have a time machine and know how to say “Please go to prom with me” in Latin? Asking for an amicus.

Taco Bell Quesarito 2

The decent base of tortilla and rice gives the cheese and protein a solid springboard to showcase their flavors, and for the most part, they do a good job. The cheese in the quesadilla forms a golden ring around the bisected burrito, and every bite is equally blessed by the melty smoothness.

Taco Bell Quesarito 3

Of the three meat options, the relatively muted shredded chicken fares the best, playing along with the rest of the Quesarito to let every ingredient shine in a concert of flavor and texture. The steak is fine too, but every bite was filled with sinew and makes the burrito feel stringy. The beef is the ground beef from all the other Taco Bell stuff, and as such it lacks subtlety. It’s salty like a salt lick, to the point where it almost burns, and definitely overpowers the quieter elements in the Quesarito.

It’s also ground to the point of almost being a meat puree, and seems out of place in this new, gentler Taco Bell item. It’s time to leave your hometown, Ground Beef. See the world, get some new perspective. Yeah, Ground Beef, we’ll leave tomorrow. Let’s go out back for now, look at the rabbits. That’s it, pet the rabbits. Oops, I shot Ground Beef in the back of the head. I’m sorry, Ground Beef. You’ll never over-salt anyone’s tongue again, Ground Beef. You are reunited in heaven with the Blackjack Taco and the Volcano Menu.

Now the bad. It’s pretty much just the sour cream. Maybe it actually goes well with the Quesarito, but it’s a problem of construction, not taste. The way the sour cream is dispensed on the tortilla, it’s packed all into one end, like if the Quesarito was an airplane, the sour cream takes up first class. And that’s confusing, because first class is a good thing, but there isn’t anything called “last class.”

Okay. If the Quesarito was an airplane, the sour cream takes up all of last class. And I’m Godzilla or Optimus Prime or whatever, and I want to eat the plane, and I bite in and I get a giant mouthful of tangy sour cream. That’s insane. Because who put all this sour cream in an airplane?

But as a human, if I wanted a mouthful of sour cream I’d go to the sour cream store and grab a spoon. Oh wait, that doesn’t exist, because we are civilized people and not creeps and nobody wants mouthfuls of sour cream. And the sour cream pocket is on either end of the Quesarito so it’s like playing Russian roulette with every beginning bite. Mexican-Russian roulette. Sorry. Mexican-Russian-American roulette. We’re a melting pot, folks.

So Taco Bell smushed two words together and they scored a home-down/touch-run with the Quesarito. They made the Brangelina of fast food. Oh! Are any of those kids in that family Mexican-Russian?

The Quesarito is a success, and soon we might be calling Merriam-Webster to add a new word, like all those popular portmanteaus of the past such as bromance, Californication and Fleshlight. Welp, just made myself barf with that string of words. That’s okay, more room for Quesarito.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ground beef Quesarito* – 650 calories, 300 calories from fat, 34 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 grams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, 22 grams of protein.)

*Nutrition facts for chicken and steak versions not available on Taco Bell website.

Item: Taco Bell Quesarito
Purchased Price: $1.99 (Ground Beef), $2.79 (Chicken) and $2.99 (Steak)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Ground Beef)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Chicken)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Steak)
Pros: Substantial, filling. Tastes like actual food. Cheese in every bite. The rice is great.
Cons: Very salty, particularly the beef. Steak is sinewy. Can be runny. Sour cream is always stuck in one bite.