REVIEW: Wendy’s Taco Salad

Wendy's Taco Salad

I am firmly a child of the 90’s. If you don’t believe me, take a walk around my childhood home, where you’ll see way too many Lifetouch grade school portraits of me with hair moussed up to the heavens (thanks Mom).

Don’t get me wrong, though – the 90’s were a blast. I fondly remember spending weekends developing recipes with my younger sister’s Fisher Price plastic kitchen to feed to my collection of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers action figures (the Megazord was a picky eater).

And now, it seems like the 90’s nostalgia has caught on with everyone else, because there’s been no shortage of remakes over the past couple of years. From Fuller House to French Toast Crunch, everyone wants a piece of the action, no matter how horrible the reboot may be.

Take Wendy’s Taco Salad, for example. America’s second-favorite redhead (after Ronald, of course), has apparently caved into the demands of their “loyal taco salad fans” (their words, not mine), and brought back this classic dish for millennial mouths to try.

Now, before I get any angry letters from fast food historians, yes, Wendy’s did originally release the Taco Salad in the 80’s, but since they’re solely marketing this from a 90’s perspective, I thought it appropriate to lace up my L.A. Lights to head on over and sample it for myself.

Like any other fast food salad, Wendy’s Taco Salad is built on a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuce. The bed in this example is clearly a California King, because this salad is overwhelmed with lettuce. It’s as if Wendy’s forgot that there were supposed to be other toppings on this salad and went crazy with the bags of salad mix.

Wendy's Taco Salad 2

On top of the lettuce extravaganza, Wendy’s has placed a smattering of diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese. I must have visited on the cook’s first day, because the pieces of tomato I received were all from the edges, and lacked any juice or flavor. Similarly disappointing, the cheese was heavily processed, and had a firm mouthfeel.

Along with the aforementioned mattress o’ lettuce, Wendy’s provides a selection of toppings to accompany the salad. These toppings – chili, tortilla chips, “signature salsa,” and light sour cream – come on the side, a sort of “taco kit” to allow you to garnish your salad as you please.

In true TIB fashion, I went all in on the toppings. While I appreciate the customization opportunity, the minuscule bowl Wendy’s provided made it difficult to mix everything together. The tortilla chips were humorously oversized for the salad, and lacked a distinctive salty kick. Their partner in crime, Wendy’s “signature salsa,” was equally as upsetting, as its sour notes overwhelmed any discernible tomato flavor.

Wendy's Taco Salad 3

The standout here was the chili – while suspect in origin, its strong tomato and cumin flavor brought some much needed zest to the salad. In fact, the chili really brings the only semblance of flavor to the salad, as it’s not served with any dressing. If you don’t conserve your chili wisely, the salad turns into a real slog to eat.

While I appreciate their play for nostalgia, Wendy’s Taco Salad should go the way of Hammer Pants. You shouldn’t touch this.

(Nutrition Facts – 660 calories, 290 calories from fat, 32 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 1820 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: Full-size salad
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Having an excuse to break out my Pogs. Flavorful chili. Jamming out to fast food training videos.
Cons: Reminding my mom that mousse exists. Ridiculous amounts of roughage. Sour salsa.

8 thoughts to “REVIEW: Wendy’s Taco Salad”

  1. I used to make those when I worked at Wendy’s in 1990! They required a special cheese, meltier than the cheese that went on regular salads. And there wasn’t all that packaging– we “assembled” it before handing it over.

    1. I worked at Wendy’s from ’97 to ’00, and I remember making these too! Back then, it was all iceberg (romaine was ONLY for the Caesar Side Salad), two rows of diced tomatoes on the sides, and a hearty row of cheese down the middle. When ordered, we were to open the salad and top it down that landing strip of cheese with a full ladel of chili. It made the oblong salad tray daunting to carry and I got many a burn from that chili! Also, we didn’t have salsa, we had packets of taco sauce we could give out.
      Before even reading the review, I knew it wouldn’t be the same, and I wasn’t surprised it see I was right.

  2. I had this salad a few weeks ago. I wouldn’t even rate it 2*.
    The salsa was one of the worst salsa’s I’ve ever tasted and the chili was bland.

    Blech!

    1. Amy, you are absolutely right! It’s the most disgusting sale I’ve ever had. How can you go wrong with a salad. This sald should be taken off the menu. Totally Disappointed!!

  3. This displeases me– if they’re going to attempt a throwback they should at least do it authentically. For shame, Wendy’s! Thanks for your review because up until now I had been excited about this!!

  4. I worked at Wendy’s in the early 80’s when the taco salad was first rolled out. We assembled the salads ourselves when ordered, which wasn’t that often. It wasn’t that special then and by the review, seems worse now. The problem always was putting hot chili on iceberg lettuce – it wilted immediately and the lettuce wasn’t that crisp to begin with.

  5. I loved the taco salad. my lettuce did not wilt from the chili. I would definitely would orderived it again. Wish the had it on the menu all year long.

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