The race to create the perfect fast-food burrito appears to have amped up in the past couple weeks. First there was the news of Burger King’s Whopperrito, the flame-broiled burger-burrito mashup, followed closely by Taco Bell’s release of its Cheesy Core burritos (of the Spicy and Crunchy varieties).
These closely timed launches brought up a few huge questions: Could Burger King, a restaurant that’s made its name selling hamburgers and fries (and, er, Mac n’ Cheetos), actually produce a burrito to rival the almighty Taco Bell and its extensive line of tortilla-wrapped creations? Would the underdog come out ahead in the rivalry of the decade? Would our burrito paradigm be shifted forever?
They were questions that begged to be answered, and so, come lunchtime, I hopped in my car and prepared my tastebuds for a career-making mission.
Even without unwrapping my fast-food booty, I could tell that the Whopperrito was definitely the larger of the two burritos. On my kitchen scale, it clocked in at a hefty 11.45 ounces, nearly two ounces heavier than the Cheesy Core Burrito.
Side by side and unwrapped, the Whopperrito looked more sprawling, too. It was also more lumpy, which, as I would discover soon enough, is due to the chopped-up bits of Whopper patty inside.
Cutting the two burritos open was my next method of comparison. While neither looked like their promotional photos (obviously), the Cheesy Core burrito was more compact and juicy-looking than the Whopperrito, which looked dry and slightly unappealing, as though a Whopper had literally been chopped up and wrapped in a flour tortilla (which is kinda the point, I suppose).
Stomach growling and observations complete, it was time to put the two burritos to the test.
Taste Test: The Whopperrito
I am currently 20 weeks pregnant, but even I’m not crazy enough to have thought up something like the Whopperrito. As a refresher, its contents include Burger King’s signature flame-grilled beef, seasoned with a “special blend of spices” to give it a more burrito-y flavor, queso, pickles, diced onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. It’s a cheeseburger in a flour tortilla, except that the cheese has been replaced with queso.
Unfortunately, that equation just doesn’t work. The first flavor I got was of that flame-grilled beef patty, followed by…tortilla. The rest of the ingredients are essentially lost — save for the pickles, and who wants pickles in their burrito?
I found myself longing for cheese, except then I realized that it did have cheese in it — in the form of a bland, almost nonexistent queso sauce. I put the Whopperito down and moved on to its rival.
Taste Test: The Cheesy Core Burrito
The Cheesy Core burrito comes in two varieties, as I mentioned before — the Crunchy, and the Spicy. Both varieties are essentially constructed using the same ingredients; that is, the three-cheese blend and nacho cheese sauce at the center, and the seasoned beef, rice, and sour cream, and red sauce surrounding it. The difference between Crunchy and Spicy is that Crunchy also has crunchy red strips in the core, while Spicy replaces those with slices of jalapeño.
I like crunchy things, but I also like spicy things, and so, since I’m trying to ensure a full head of hair on this child when he emerges from me, the spicy version won. Apparently, that was the best thing I could have done.
Guys, I legitimately liked this burrito. It was moist and cheesy, and every bite I took was bursting with the tanginess of pickled jalapeño slices. There was heat, but not enough that I had to stop eating. And while I’m generally not a fan of rice in my burrito and would have preferred less in this one, it blended in relatively well. Whereas I was done with the Whopperrito after one bite (don’t worry, for the sake of science I returned to it later), I was on track to finish every bite of my Spicy Cheesy Core burrito. Alas, the telltale stomachache of burrito overindulgence hit me before I could complete the task at hand, but the happy memory of a flavorful lunch remains.
Burger King’s noble attempt at reinventing the burrito is no match for Taco Bell’s prowess. The Whopperrito is a dry substitution for an actual hamburger — just order a Whopper, if that’s what you’re craving. The Cheesy Core Burrito is something I’d be happy to see stick around. And while it probably won’t replace my the Nachos Bell Grande in my heart, I’ll definitely consider adding pickled jalapeños to anything I order at the chain from now on.