REVIEW: Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Shell

I used to hate crunchy tacos.

My grandfather would try so hard to get me to like them when we went to Taco Bell for “39-cent crunchy taco night,” but usually ended up paying the extra 10 cents so I could get soft tacos instead. I can’t tell you why I didn’t like them, but it was a preference that followed me well into my late 20s until something clicked.

It is probably too dramatic to say I heard angels singing, but it’s the truth. Since then, they have been my preferred taco of choice, particularly Taco Bell’s crunchy beef taco (sorry, Grandpa). Its simplicity is one of the reasons why they are so satisfying. Rarely will I venture out of the standard build (shell, meat, cheese, lettuce), but every so often, Taco Bell will tempt me away with a new product, like it did with its Cantina Crispy Melt Taco.

The menu item is made with a white corn tortilla that is fried in-store daily, then layered with nacho cheese sauce, three-cheese blend, seasoned beef, tomato, lettuce, sour cream, and (yet more) shredded cheddar cheese. Two things about this item caught my attention immediately: the freshly fried in-store white corn tortilla and the sheer amount of cheese involved with it. With the white corn shell, I was curious how it would differ from the standard yellow corn shell in both structural integrity and flavor. I was a bit wary about the amount of cheese involved, particularly the nacho cheese.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco

Look, I’m no stranger to cheese, but crunchy tacos can go from crunchy to soggy rather quickly, and I was worried the dairy would expedite that process. Much to my surprise, it all held up exceptionally well. The white corn offers a much more mild flavor than the yellow corn. I wouldn’t quite say it’s bland, but it’s certainly not the star flavor-wise.

Its texture, though, exceeded my expectations. It was airy and light, but managed to stay strong after the 15-minute car ride home. With my first bite, it didn’t shatter or split. In fact, it did not break apart until the end.

The nacho cheese was the strongest flavor, with the seasoned beef and sour cream coming in next. I couldn’t quite tell you if the three cheese blend added to it in any way, but it didn’t detract. I was also pleasantly surprised that the cheese didn’t cause the seam to get soggy and split apart. The rest of the toppings (lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese) felt sort of like a take-it-or-leave-it situation, but I often find those Taco Bell ingredients to be that way.

Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco Sleeve

While I don’t find the Cantina Crispy Melt Taco too groundbreaking, it’s an interesting detour from the standard crunchy taco, and it’s worth trying once. The standout was the shell, but mostly for how well it held up and not because it added to the taste profile. But if you are a fan of the nacho cheese, I think you will very much find this to be a home run.

Purchased Price: $2.19
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 17 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.

9 thoughts to “REVIEW: Taco Bell Cantina Crispy Melt Taco”

  1. “My” taco bell is horrible and the first time I ordered this, they gave me a a soft shell. It was really delicious that way. So good I went back the next day and ordered another one. They gave me the correct crispy shell and I was lowkey disappointed. They should try out doing it with a soft shell.

  2. Great review!
    I absolutely LOVE this taco! I tried one with nacho cheese (9/10) and one without nacho cheese (10/10). Without the nacho cheese, the hearty ground beef and cheese take center stage and the white corn shell’s texture and taste actually brings back memories of my beloved Mexican Pizza. It’s not an exact match but close enough I really enjoyed it and found it worthy of a 10.

    As an added bonus, the value of this item is also a big plus. Adding 2 extra cheese types and sour cream to a standard taco would make it over $3, so I appreciate the $2.19 price that much more 🙂

  3. Mine was definitely fried but I had the distinct impression that they just dumped the regular taco shell in the fryer. It looked nothing like the white corn shell in this picture. I guess they were trying to improvise.

    1. Places improvising without your permission is horrible… just say you do not have the product? I would gladly order something else. But no, they give out a subpar product that doesn’t taste nearly the same.

      I still have PTSD from Taco Bell not having crunchwraps and they just put regular hard taco shells in instead. Soggy and just not good. I was honestly surprised at how different the taste and texture were.

  4. I’m with you on the crunchy taco opinion! I’ve never liked them, they just don’t structural sense to me; especially if you are doing a drive thru order and not eating it immediately. I was the kid in my family who (along with my Dad) who always had the soft tortillas when we made tacos for dinner. Now nachos? I’m completely on board with that!

    That being said, I’d give this a go, maybe? Because…cheese.

  5. I thought this was pretty great. 8.5 or maybe a 9 out of 10. If you like Taco Bell, it basically has all the flavors that TB does well. My only knock on it is its extremely messy. Definitely get extra napkins because as soon as you bite into it, certainly after the 2nd bite, the shell explodes. The way the shell is made its just impossible for it to keep its structure the entire time you’re eating it.

  6. Mine was fried too, but looked like a white corn shell as shown in the picture. Took one bite of it, and the entire thing fell apart! It was still really good, but was basically eating loaded nachos for me. Would love to try it if it’d stay together. Also had the Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch, that was great!

  7. I still say, bring back the Taco Light tacos and call the Crispy/Flakey Tacos. Yes, I know, they are not light in calories and they break apart super easily. They were delicious!!!

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