Blind Taste Test: The First ‘Fake Meat’ Taco To Hit The Mainstream

del taco beyond meat
Dane Rivera

Del Taco and Beyond Meat have teamed up to produce the aptly named Beyond Taco, a 100% plant-based protein filled taco — safe for vegans, vegetarians, or really anyone trying to ditch meat. Using a blend of yellow peas, coconut oil, ancho chili, onions, garlic, lime juice, oregano, and cumin, the soy and gluten-free Beyond meat can be used as a substitute for any of your favorite Del Taco menu items.

As of today, the Beyond Taco is on sale in two locations in southern California, Culver City and Santa Monica — with a 500 restaurant expansion planned. If you’re vegan and not down with the dairy you can swap out the cheese for avocado. Otherwise, the standard-issue Beyond Taco resembles a regular Del Taco in every way with cheese, chopped tomatoes, and shredded lettuce. It should be noted that the Beyond Taco is prepared amongst the rest of Del Taco’s food, so if you have an aversion to food that was prepared adjacent to non-vegan or vegetarian ingredients, this one isn’t for you.

If curiosity has got you thinking you should make the X-amount of miles journey to taste a Beyond Taco, just chill, because I live in Southern California. So I drove my taco-loving-self to the Culver City location for you, to do a blind taste test — a chance to see how the Beyond Taco compares to the original Del Taco. While I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, I am open-minded and try to judge a food based solely on its flavor. I have no allegiance towards meat nor any bias towards the idea of veganism and vegetarianism. I just like good food. We’re just talking flavor here.

I staged the test inside the restaurant for maximum freshness. My girlfriend (to her disdain) brought me a plate containing two tacos: one Beyond Meat, and the other a regular Del Taco. She tied the blindfold way too tight.

Dane Rivera

Here I am, a person who hates being photographed performing my first food-work-related stunt. Knowing that this is the internet and you’re all skeptical, my girlfriend shuffled around the tacos while I wondered aloud what people in the Del Taco establishment thought of my theatrics.

She quickly let me know I was being self-absorbed and nobody gave a goddamn.

Dane Rivera

This is me being pensive pre-taco. It belongs in a museum.

Dane Rivera

I happened to grab the Beyond Taco first. If you were hoping for some type of surprise on my part I’m sorry to say it was very obvious to me that it was the Beyond Taco. The first indication was the smell. As soon as I unwrapped the taco I was greeted with the aroma of many spices. It’s not unappetizing in any way, but the Beyond Taco has a drastically stronger scent than the regular Del Taco, making it a dead giveaway.

The vegetable crumbles are very wet, almost like you doused your taco in salsa and it’s much spicier than the regular taco. It also feels a little bit heavier to me and the aftertaste lingers much longer than its meat counterpart.

Dane Rivera

Presentation-wise, the Beyond Taco is kind of a mess, especially under the lighting conditions of a Del Taco at night. The soft taco version doesn’t taste better and swapping avocado for cheese doesn’t do the flavor of this taco any favors unfortunately, aside from making it vegan-friendly.

Side by side, the difference is obvious and for my money, the regular Del Taco reigns supreme. But that shouldn’t’ dissuade you from trying the Beyond Taco. After all, this taco wasn’t really made to be compared side-by-side to its meat-based counterpart. Rather, the Beyond Taco is a great way for Del Taco to expand their menu options for those who live by a vegan or vegetarian diet. Though it doesn’t nearly reach the heights of a good jackfruit taco, the Beyond Meat Taco isn’t by any means bad, it’s just not really comparable to the original Del Taco taco. It’s merely packaged in a familiar light for those seeking something new or wanting to be reminded of a food they’ve since given up.

Dane Rivera

If you were to hand someone a Beyond Taco from Del Taco, they might not question what you gave them. For the most part, it does indeed taste like what’d you’d expect from a ground-beef fast food taco (so long as they aren’t side-by-side). But if you’re a meat eater hoping for a food-savior to come along and show you giving up meat isn’t as big a life change as you’ve feared, you’ll just have to keep looking. Beyond Meat calls itself the future of protein… as yet, we’re not so sure.

The Beyond Taco can currently be found at 2425 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403 and 3705 S Robertson Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. Del Taco has plans to expand the offering to 500 locations.