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Taste Test: Beyond Tacos at Del Taco

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There’s this Canadian farming sitcom I’m addicted to called “Letterkenny” and it’s foul-mouthed and idiosyncratic and I love it.

And in one of the more recent episodes, some characters are talking about “keeping drugs safe...even though drugs aren’t supposed to be safe” and it got me thinking about the new Beyond Meat tacos at Del Taco.

It’s like Del Taco is keeping tacos healthy...even though tacos aren’t supposed to be healthy.

It’s a bit of a misunderstand on both ends, of course.

Tacos can be so many things and some of those are definitely healthy. But when it comes to fast food, we generally understand that those tacos are on the indulgent, delicious end of the scale, rather than the monastic, self-sacrificing end.

And I can’t speak to the actual healthiness of Beyond Meat. While it doesn’t contain any meat or meat byproducts, that’s true of lots of things I don’t consider healthy. Oreos, for instance, are vegan.

Compare the classic Del Taco with the Beyond Taco and the Beyond Avocado Taco and you’ll see, calorie-wise, it’s not that different.

The difference really boils down to ground beef vs. plant-based beef substitute. And if you’re someone who is vegan or vegetarian, or someone who is transitioning away from eating meat, that’s a big deal.

(Beyond Meat is also gluten-free, which is a deciding factor for lots of folks.)

So here’s what I did. I went to Del Taco. I got a regular Del Taco, a Beyond Taco and a Beyond Avocado Taco and I ate them.

Then I thought, “Hey, I should try comparing these and write about it instead of just being a glutton who eats a bunch of tacos.” So I did that.

Del Taco

The classic crunchy Del Taco is a crispy corn tortilla filled with seasoned ground beef, lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese and diced tomatoes. It’s a good, solid taco. The cheese reminds me a bit of Johnny’s Charcoal Broiler’s cheeseburgers, because it’s thick and it’s not close enough to the meat that it’s ever going to melt.

Beyond Taco

This is exactly like the Del Taco, but with Beyond Meat subbed in for ground beef. Side-by-side, you might be able to discern the difference if you were thinking about it. But, and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, do you really think a lot when you’re eating fast food tacos? I totally Greg-ed it and tasted them back and forth to see how the Beyond Meat had a mild sweetness to it, but if I were eating like the normal monster I am, I would’ve been hard-pressed to tell them apart.

Beyond Avocado Taco

This is a vegan taco, subbing in a slice of ripe avocado for the shredded cheese, and I think it’s pretty great. The cheese can be a little clumpy (that’s what happens when you shred it fresh without a bunch of additives to keep the cheese separate) and the avocado added the same fattiness with fewer calories and a richer flavor. Again, telling the difference between the meats can be done, but it takes more concentration than I feel most of us give fast food tacos.

If I was going to point out the biggest difference between ground beef and Beyond Meat, it would be the price tag. Beyond Tacos are $1 more than Del Tacos. But if you’re looking for a meatless alternative that still hits those primal fast food urges, I’d say a buck is worth it.

Beyond Tacos aren’t available everywhere just yet. They added seven Oklahoma stores in Edmond, Yukon, Norman, Moore and Oklahoma City to the test markets at the beginning of the month. So give them a shot. If the numbers make sense, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Beyond Tacos at every Del Taco in the near future.

About the Author

Founder and Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma, Greg Elwell has been reviewing restaurants and writing about Oklahoma’s food culture for more than a decade. Where a normal person orders one meal, this guy gets three. He is almost certainly going to die young and those who love him most are fairly ambivalent about it. You can email Greg at greg@iateoklahoma.com.

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