Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the bathroom, it’s time for the second Worst-to-Best ranking of the Taco Bell menu.
“Greg,” a wise person might say, “Why are you doing this? Shouldn’t you be writing about ANYTHING more important?”
But I am not a wise person. I am a food writer and if there’s one thing I know, it’s that people eat fast food. Maybe YOU don’t (which, haha, you definitely do), but most of us do. They don’t put Tacos Bell and McDonald’s and Kings of Burgers and Subways everywhere because people don’t eat there.
Also it is an excuse for us to pig out. Us, in this case, is:
Greg Elwell - Eater-in-Chief of I Ate Oklahoma and someone who has failed at Weight Watchers a number of times.
Spencer Hicks - Comedian, writer, researcher and a man who has written about pooping a wicker basket.
Brian Byrne - Raconteur, alcohol enthusiast, beet hater and hate beater.
What we found, though, is that Taco Bell’s menu is enormous and cannot (and should not) be eaten by three middle-aged men in one sitting. So we’ve broken it down into sections.
Second course: The Taco Menu
Because these ratings happened at the same time as we wrote our comments, there were a few continuity issues that needed to be addressed. One thing that comes up a few times is my Unifying Theory of Supreme-ing or UToS.
UToS says that, while regular tacos might need Supreme-ing, i.e. squirting on some sour cream and sprinkling magical tomato nubs, that is not true for all tacos. When you’re in the Doritos Tacos Loco family, where there’s so much powdered flavor flying around, it just muddies the impact.
14. Steak Soft Taco
BB: Steaky! The meat’s toughness was a nice counter to the tortilla’s floppiness here.
SH: I have no complaints here. The price point would probably keep me from ordering this on my own dime, but since Greg is footing the bill, I would gladly eat 3 or 4 of these. Perhaps, I was drawn to the newness of the steak.
GE: You guys thought it was steaky? I thought the meat had the texture of wet dog food. Meat doesn’t need to be rubbery like this. Give me regular ground beef over this any day.
BB: Ooooooo, look at Mr. “I only eat DRYYYYYY dog food.”
12-13. (tie) Soft Taco Supreme
BB: I thought we already did this.
SH: Read my entry for “Soft Taco,” but add sour cream.
GE: If you’re getting a taco supremed, this is the one. Why? Because it’s boring. And the tortilla being soft gives you the flexibility to keep all the ingredients in the taco. A crunchy taco will litter most of the tomato right onto the paper/car seat/shattered concrete over which you are eating it. A soft taco is malleable. That’s what it has going for it.
12-13. (tie) Double Decker Taco
BB: I would have liked this better with sauce; without it, the blandness of the beans takes over. Texture is fantastic though, and huge applause for the whole concept of the Double-Decker taco in general.
SH: What if they used the spicy mayo or perhaps melted cheese to glue the tortilla to the crunchy? I’m available for hire, but will require a six-figure salary and stock options.
GE: SNORE. The beans made the texture untenable. Every bite was a chore. I don’t go to Taco Bell for work. Not since high school, anyway.
10-11 (tie) Fiery Doritos Taco Loco Supreme
BB: The weakest of the DTL lineup, just because “Fiery” doesn’t taste like anything. It’s red.
SH: The sour cream made it sorta pink.
GE: Thanks, but no.
10-11. (tie) Double Decker Taco Supreme
BB: Supreme-ing was a slight improvement, but again, Taco Bell beans are pretty much brown spackle, sorely in need of sauce packets.
SH: Personally, I enjoyed the diversity of textures. A soft tortilla glued to a crunchy shell with beans. But the glue sorta mutes the flavors.
GE: Again, a little sour cream helps, but this is a misfire from the first smear of bean on a soft flour tortilla.
9. Cool Ranch Doritos Taco Loco Supreme
BB: Excellent, but minor demerits due to Greg’s Sour Cream Theorem, which is now taught in the finer Science Commissaries.
SH: Another delightful taco, but the flavor was soured by the cream.
GE: Oddly, the sour cream squelching the flavor works in this one’s favor.
8. Soft Taco
BB: I know we already did this.
SH: Here is a pro-tip that you can have for free: If you are ordering a combo meal that you don’t think you can handle in one sitting, get soft tacos on the side minus the lettuce. You can toss them in the fridge and they are just as good heated up. You can’t say the same about the crunchy tacos. If you don’t finish crunchy tacos with the meal, throw them away or give them to your pet.
GE: It’s like a crunchy taco, but not crunchy. Because corn is too flavorful? I don’t know. I don’t know why this is a thing, I guess. I don’t need to concentrate more on the lettuce and cheese.
6-7. (tie) Fiery Doritos Taco Loco
BB: Also red.
SH: Greg and I talked about what flavor “Fiery” was. It wasn’t as spicy as something with the name “fiery” would hint at, but it was still very good.
GE: Brian is right: It does taste red. But I prefer red to ranch, I guess. Pretty tasty, but a distant second to nacho cheese.
6-7. (tie) Nacho Doritos Taco Loco Supreme
BB: We had a minor schism re: Supreme vs. Non-Supreme that Greg made some good points about, and about which I think he was right.
SH: This was a fine taco. But Greg made some good points while we discussed the finer points of “Supreme” tacos.
GE: If you’re a fan of nacho cheese dust on your taco shell, save your money and don’t bother with the supreme. If nacho cheese dust is too much for you, then why are you ordering a Nacho DTL to begin with?
3-5. (tie) Cool Ranch Doritos Taco Loco
BB: Hands down my favorite taco of the evening. I would eat a Cool Ranch bar coaster if you put one in front of me, so imagine my delight at finding Cool Ranch flavor on a traditionally edible item. They do this thing where the beef and cheese kinda fuse to the shell and it’s the tiniest bit mushy and I guess I’m going to have that heart attack sooner than even I had expected.
SH: My first foray into the Cool Ranch flavored tacos. It was delightful, but not as comforting as the Nacho Dorito Taco.
GE: I just cannot get past my long-standing hatred of Cool Ranch Doritos. It’s the least necessary flavor and the one that makes the least sense. I’m sorry. This one’s on me.
3-5. (tie) Crunchy Taco
BB: I hate to say it, but after the DTL lineup, the regular crunchy tacos are The Farm after Gay Paree for me now. They are good and I will eat them but man, remember the Dorito Taco Locos we ate on the banks of the Seine?
SH: For real, we should have started with the crunchy taco and worked up the flavor ladder. Still, these tacos have gotten me and my tapeworms through some tough times.
GE: It’s a classic for a reason. Once all the glitz and glamour of DTL, it’s nice to return to the homespun wisdom and warmth of this plain Jane taco from the dull side of the tracks.
3-5. (tie) Chicken Soft Taco
BB: A surprising victory was had across the board by TB’s chicken this evening. Some real solid flavor in that stuff. Like salt flavor, but orange in color. That said, the soft tacos were just floppy to me after the cavalcade of Dorito Goodness earlier in the evening.
SH: OK, I’m not a machine that is devoid of emotion or the ability to be swayed. The chicken is starting to grow on me. But I’ll be damned if you get me to change my opinion on the Cravers Quesadilla.
GE: This is the best of the soft tacos. By far. Chicken has the spice you get with the Bell’s usual ground beef, but the texture makes it more interesting.
2. Crunchy Taco Supreme
BB: I would opine that this is one instance in which the Supreming went well for these tacos. I suppose the entire notion of a Taco Supreme was conceived during a time when the very notion of taco shells made out of Doritos was a ludicrous flight of fancy; one might as well suggest a vodka distilled from Phoenix Tears or a sauce packet mixed from the lymph glands of baby angels. They could never have known the marvels that awaited them, those desperate fucking ape-men.
SH: Sour cream is good. But I feel like at this point, maybe sour cream out of a caulking gun isn’t the height of culinary art. Still, a good taco.
GE: While I agree that if you’re going to supreme anything, it ought to be this taco, I am generally not that impressed by it. Save your supreme-ing for burritos.
WINNER Nacho Doritos Taco Loco
BB: The DTLs are the heavy hitters of the taco menu in my book. I embrace their powdered flavorings; I embrace their artificial goodness; I embrace how they make the trashiest parts of my palette Love Again. Nacho is a huge contender here this evening.
SH: I boycotted this gimmicky taco for far too long. Until they started being included in the Big Box special a few months ago. My song has changed. And this is coming from someone who used to put Doritos on bread in college. And thanks to student loans, I’m still paying off those sandwiches!
GE: I’m a taco purist. Line me up a bunch of plain crunchy tacos and I’ll be happy as can be. If I’m getting a Doritos Taco Loco, however, I’m probably going to get nacho. Of the three flavors, it’s the most balanced and complementary.