Described by Taco Bell’s website as “A double-sized Chalupa shell packed with seasoned ground beef, crispy lettuce, tomatoes, real cheddar cheese and nacho cheese sauce, red strips and topped with reduced fat sour cream,” the XXL Chalupa flies in the face of common sense and the recommendations of any nutritionist. Weighing in at 266 grams, the XXL Chalupa is 57.5% larger than the original Chalupa. I have this delightful mental image of Jillian Michaels screaming at the XXL Chalupa with all the rage she can muster, which, if The Biggest Loser is any indication, is a lot of rage.
I also like the inclusion of “reduced fat sour cream.” That has to be a little wink-wink nudge-nudge from Taco Bell to us, right? It’s like they’re saying, “C’mon, we know you’re going to order a Diet Coke to go along with this monstrosity.” Taco Bell has their finger on the erratic pulse of their clientele.
I certainly did not expect to be handed a giant box when I ordered my XXL Chalupa, but that is what I got. I’m not sure the box was entirely necessary â€“ they probably could have wrapped it up pretty snug â€“ but it’s smart from a marketing standpoint. I felt like I’d just purchased something with real heft. An event, not just a taco.
It does not fail to impress upon opening the box, either. The XXL Chalupa actually has sides that curve up to keep all of its innards from spilling out like a teenager in a horror movie who just got eviscerated because he had sex with his girlfriend. Poor guy, he just wanted a little action. In a barn. In the middle of nowhere. With a crazy serial killer on the loose. I mean c’mon, he’s got his priorities in order.
As you can see, my chalupa had a containment breach, and all the sour cream on my XXL Chalupa was globbed onto one side, half of it not inside the taco. Whatever, it happens. You roll the dice when you get fast food; you’re lucky if you actually get what you ordered, and you’re lucky if all the ingredients are distributed properly. That is just the way of things.
The shell was crispy and fried to perfection. It seemed more deep-fried than a normal Chalupa; it actually reminded me strongly of frybread, which is definitely a good thing. There was just the right amount of Taco Bell’s mystery ground beef and nacho cheese sauce. I think the addition of the nacho cheese really stepped up the flavor. It also had shredded cheese, but I always found the shredded cheese on fast food tacos to be weak and almost flavorless. Nacho cheese all the way.
The lettuce was nice and crunchy and the tomatoes were tasty and fresh. Unfortunately, the red strips were buried between the ground beef and the rest of the toppings, resulting in soggy tortilla that added no flavor to the party. I topped one half of my XXL Chalupa with Fire-Roasted Salsa and the other with Salsa Verde, but we’ll get into those later, as I want them to get their own time in the spotlight. I will say, however, that both worked nicely on the taco.
Overall, I really enjoyed the XXL Chalupa. I challenged myself to finish the whole thing, and much to my disbelief, I actually did it! And then I felt miserable for two hours afterward. And I still have heartburn. I think I covered my second, third, and fourthmeal. But it was worth it! I may have a dainty feminine appetite, but I think even a big guy with a big appetite would feel satisfied with the XXL Chalupa. There’s no actual new ingredients here, but the amount of them in the taco is impressive. You’ll find the contents of a regular taco to be severely anemic after eating the XXL Chalupa. You’ll also need at least two napkins â€“ while the turned up sides do help a little, this is something you certainly wouldn’t want to eat while driving.
Now then, to the Border Salsas!
I have always enjoyed Taco Bell’s Border Sauces. I love condiments in general, (I even had a shirt with a mustard packet on it from the now-defunct Condiment Packet Museum that I wore in public) but for some reason, Border Sauces were always my favorite. Mild, Hot, Fire, it didn’t matter. As a youth, I would just rip them open and empty the entire contents of the packet into my mouth. In hindsight, putting a sauce packet to my lips was not the most sanitary thing in the world, but, considering the strange things I ate as a child, I’ve probably put worse things in my mouth.
No comments from the peanut gallery, please.
So you can see why I was excited when Taco Bell announced two new members of the family, Verde and Fire-Roasted Border Salsas. Note that these are salsas, not sauces. Given, “salsa” is the Spanish word for “sauce,” but I think most Americans associate “salsa” with the chunky dip, which makes me wonder if these new Border Salsas are going to be more chunky than the already existing Border Sauces.
Fire-Roasted Border Salsa
It may be hard to see in the picture, but there are lots of dark flecks in Fire-Roasted Border Salsa. I think those are supposed to represent the char you get when you actually roast tomatoes. I decided it would be a little more hygienic to squirt the salsas onto a plate instead of sucking the condiment straight out of the packet, and it definitely came out thicker than the three existing Border Sauces.
The flavor is surprisingly rich; it’s got a sweet heat that isn’t too spicy but sneaks up on you gradually. I could really taste the underlying tomato flavor, but it wasn’t a cheap tomato-y flavor, like, say, ketchup. The vinegar complemented the rich flavor of the tomatoes. Fire-roasted tomatoes are actually the second ingredient listed, which means that rich flavor is genuine.
I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Fire-Roasted Border Salsa. The three existing Border Sauces â€“ Mild, Hot and Fire â€“ are pretty much just what they’re called. “Generic hot sauce,” not that I think there’s anything wrong with that. But Fire-Roasted has a real flavor, and while I have never allowed ketchup to enter my home, I wouldn’t mind having a bottle of this around. It would be great on a hot dog. Actually, since I demanded a fistful of each of the new flavors, I could make that dream happen.
I also like the message on the packet â€“ timely!
Verde Border Salsa
You can see the flecks much more clearly in the Salsa Verde. They could be either green chile pepper or tomatillo, which are the second and third ingredients in this salsa. Again, it came out of the packet thicker than the Border Sauces, and again, it had a depth of flavor that they lack.
The vinegar plays well with the pepper and tomatillo flavors, too. However, unlike Fire-Roasted, Salsa Verde has more of a vinegar twang with the chile pepper for a mild spice, instead of the sweet/spice combination of the Fire-Roasted. The depth of flavor seems to come from the tomatillo, which tastes great, and also has a tartness that works with the vinegar. Interestingly, I have a feeling that many people in this country don’t actually know what a tomatillo tastes like, which may leave them wondering what mysterious flavor is in this salsa. Kudos to Taco Bell for actually introducing people to an authentic Mexican flavor, for once!
Apparently, Taco Bell thinks “Spanish” is a synonym for “fancy.” Those same people who have never eaten a tomatillo are the same people who will think this is true.
All in all, I loved both new Border Salsas and think Taco Bell really outdid themselves. If only they could put forth this kind of effort on all their new menu items. Between these and their Cantina Tacos, they seem to be heading in the right direction.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ XXL Chalupa – 1 taco (266 grams) â€“ 650 calories, 350 calories from fat, 39 grams total of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,300 milligrams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of dietary fiber, 6 gram of sugars and 23 grams of protein.)
Item: Taco Bell XXL Chalupa, Fire-Roasted Border Salsa & Verde Border Salsa
Price: $2.79 for the XXL Chalupa; both Border Salsas free
Size: 1 taco (266 grams); 2 salsa packets
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 8 out of 10 (XXL Chalupa)
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Fire-Roasted Border Salsa)
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Verde Border Salsa)
Pros: XXL Chalupa – Had tons of fillings. Frybread-like shell. Jillian Michaels screaming at a taco. Crisp, fresh toppings. Lots of nacho cheese sauce. The feeling of victory when I conquered the whole thing. Border Salsas – Had lots of flavor depth. Actual fire-roasted tomatoes used in Fire-Roasted. Squirting Taco Bell sauce onto a hot dog. Little char flecks. Verde had great mix of twang and spice. Great tomatillo taste. Taco Bell teaching gringos about tomatillos.
Cons: XXL Chalupa â€“ Sour cream unevenly distributed. Fitting into an XXL shirt if I keep eating them. Can be quite messy. Unfair evisceration. Soggy red tortilla strips. Heartburn. Border Salsas â€“ The fact that I can only get them at Taco Bell and not in gallon jars. Possibility of contracting infectious diseases by sucking on the packets. Gringos thinking “Spanish” and “fancy” mean the same thing. Ketchup.