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A Very Thorough And Painfully Scientific Review Of Taco Bell’s New Dollar Menu

By 08.28.14

When Taco Bell announced its new dollar menu, I was like the kid in the front of the classroom that didn’t know the answer to the big question as the teacher was staring right at me. I slunked down in my chair, pulled my t-shirt up over the bottom half of my face and prayed to any god that would listen to make the teacher call on someone else just this one time, so I didn’t have to deal with it. But there was no escaping this, as my Pulitzer-worthy work on evaluating Taco Bell’s breakfast menu almost made it a challenge for friends and colleagues alike to bring any new Taco Bell and fast food items in general to my attention, as if to say, “Hey bro, I’m never going to eat this crap, but why don’t you go ahead and eat it, die a little more, and then tell us all about it?”

Obviously, I decided to accept the challenge, because I’m nothing if not a dancing clown monkey, here for the entertainment of others. Also, as I’ve declared so many times before, I simply love Taco Bell. Sure, I have a real Mexican joint down the street from me (La Fiesta in Orlando, represent) but sometimes I just want a few crunchy tacos for a quick and easy meal that I’ll only slightly regret later on. In the case of the breakfast menu, though, I didn’t eat for about two days after I wrote that review, so you can imagine that I approached the dollar menu with a little reluctance.

But here we are, staring at that mess above and ready to chow down, so I can give you my honest review of just about everything on Taco Bell’s new dollar menu, with the exception of the tostada, which the staff at my Taco Bell forgot. Honestly, I’m not complaining at this point. As for what I ate…

Taco Bell 1

1) Spicy Potato Soft Taco
2) Beefy Fritos Burrito
3) Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito
4) The Cheesy Roll Up
5) Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla
6) Three Crunchy Tacos (the safety food)
7) Apple Empanada
8) A variety of sauces, AKA the masking agents
9) A very large Mountain Dew, because screw it, we’ve come this far

For a grand total of $11.39, Taco Bell once again outdoes itself as the world leader in cheap but obnoxiously filling food. As I write this, I’m kind of dizzy and feel like I’m mixing cement in my stomach, so I strongly recommend that lesser human beings not try this. (If I die, I want my baseball card collection buried with me.)

1) Spicy Potato Soft Taco

Spicy Potato Taco

When Cajun Boy first asked me if I’d be writing up the Taco Bell dollar menu, I held my finger over my nose like a fake mustache and shouted, “I don’t speak English!” at my monitor. But once I pulled up the menu and saw a spicy potato soft taco, I had to try it because… this makes no sense. Look, I’ve been poor before, like really, really poor, so I have eaten my share of pointless meals just for the sake of being full. I still remember the month that I ate white rice and small cans of chili three times a day because it was all I could afford. So to see this soft taco filled with potato chunks, lettuce, cheese and some sort of spicy sauce was… familiar.

That said, I took one bite of this stupid snack and was done with it. I’m certainly not some kind of health nut, but the idea of potatoes wrapped in a flour tortilla seems terrible, like a starch sandwich. If my meal was a game of Clue, I would have been Mr. Fatass in the kitchen with the spicy potato soft taco. Even I have standards.

2) Beefy Fritos Burrito

Beefy Frito Burrito

Yet another meal item that appeals to a time when I was younger and more… spiritually elevated. I love that there’s a person whose whole career revolves around the idea of “Okay, we’ve got this burrito, but we need a new way to sell more of them, because our demographic is becoming complacent. I know, ADD FRITOS!” And that dude gets paid a ton of money for it. In his defense, though, Fritos are awesome and taste great as a “seasoning” for just about anything. Seriously, get a small bag of Fritos and put them on any sandwich. It’ll change your life.

As for the Beefy Fritos Burrito, I’ve never liked Taco Bell’s burritos, because they’re usually soggy and bland (unless you drench them in the masking agents, like I did today with everything, because Fire Sauce is the king of condiments), but this is definitely a good alternative. The problem is that the Fritos can also get soggy if you don’t rip right into these suckers. Also, the soft tortilla shell feels like it’s made of rubber. I swear I could take it to the park down the street and challenge some kids to a game of wall ball.

3) Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito

Cheesy bean burrito

If this new dollar menu is lacking in anything aside from taste, it’s originality. So far we have potato wedges in a tortilla and a burrito filled with Fritos. Now, it’s a burrito that simply includes a scoop of rice and whatever’s in squirt bottles 1 and 2. Maybe if they brought back the Volcano sauce for some added flavor – unless my theory that it was really the blood of a now-extinct species of fish is true – this thing could have a different appeal, but everything I had eaten to this point had been swimming in sauce, because these Kevlar tortillas have absolutely no flavor, unless you count “Is that the box this came in?” as a flavor.

4) The Cheesy Roll Up

Cheesy Roll Up

And now we have reached the moment of absolute loss of creativity. This is just a tortilla with melted cheese… rolled up. I imagine that this is the perfect snack item for a kid on the go, as my niece loves anything with cheese on it, and she’d have picked this thing apart in a matter of seconds, leaving only soggy traces of tortilla left behind on the table top. Otherwise, this thing had about as much usefulness as a Fun Dip stick, because I basically made a puddle of Fire and Verde sauces on a napkin and ate this in two bites. At least give it a cool name like the Queso Bomb or just steal from 30 Rock and call it the Cheezy Blaster. Otherwise, it’s a cheese roll and it’s gross.

5) Shredded Chicken Mini Quesadilla

Shredded Chicken Mini Quesa

I didn’t set an intentional order for these items, as I just kind of put them on the counter, prayed and went to town. By the time I got to this, and after having been sucked through the taste boredom vortex created by the last two items, I was actually surprised by the punch that this shredded chicken packed. Of course, when I unwrapped the tin foil that it came in, it looked like someone had thrown a used diaper against a metal wall. It wasn’t terrible, though, despite the sloppy joe aftertaste that it left in my mouth. The shredded chicken quesadilla was also the first item that I didn’t need to drown in sauce to make it taste better, but using an adequate amount of the green stuff on each bite definitely helped.

6) Three Crunchy Tacos (the safety food)

On the chance that any of these items caught me off guard with a straight up nasty taste, I had to have Old Faithful standing by. I don’t know how to explain it, but I just love me a Taco Bell crunchy taco every once in a while. They definitely came in handy when I was trying to get through the bland beans and cheese burrito. I seriously can’t emphasize enough how plain and boring that was. It was like eating a John Mayer song.

7) Apple Empanada

Apple Empanada

Finally, the dessert. I mean, you can’t f*ck up an apple snack, can you? It’s a shell with apple crud inside, so it should be delicious. Unfortunately, this was like someone cut an apple into a bunch of chunks and then poured some goo into a cup, dropped all of the apple chunks in the goo for a few minutes, put it out in the sun, and then took all of the apple chunks out, before squirting the goo into a crappy, stale pie shell. How the hell do you have an apple snack and it doesn’t have cinnamon in or on it? I respect that these things can sometimes be a work in progress, but the bottom line is that I’m going to take a McDonald’s apple pie 10 times out of 10 over this apple empanada. I’m honestly mad and offended right now.

Apple Empanada 2

Overall Grade: D-

The end

This is a serious problem, you guys. I love Taco Bell, despite the fact that they never sent me anything during that breakfast menu promotional campaign, but this dollar menu is for suckers. I wouldn’t feed some of this stuff to pigeons or prison inmates. I have all the faith in Taco Bell to make things better, but fixing this dollar menu is going to take a lot of work. (Also, bring back the Volcano Tacos, you jerks.)

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TAGSdollar menusFAST FOODFOOD REVIEWSGROSS BROTACO BELLtaco bell dollar menuwhy god why?

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