Is the new addition a win for Taco Bell?
As I have observed many times before in TheStreet’s coverage of the fast-food market, having a constantly rotating stable of new items on the menu is basically essential to the success of just about any fast-food establishment.
And while I am more than aware that the only reason that any chain does this is to retain my attention and get my money, hey, I have to eat. And while I would love to say I never eat fast food and prepare only nutritious, organic foods for all my meals that I harvested by hand in my own backyard, I am an imperfect human being and just crave a drive-thru taco sometimes.
Also, I have learned that I am the very customer fast-food chains are aiming for when they make something completely ridiculous. Take Taco Bell’s short-lived Cheez-It Tostada, which had a brief test market run in California recently before vanishing completely. Is the idea of a gigantic Cheez-It with tostada toppings on it absolutely ludicrous? Yes. Would I eat it? Absolutely.
My Experience With Taco Bell’s Newest Item
With all this in mind, I headed over to the Bell after getting a notification that a new item had been added to the menu. In early June, a user on the Taco Bell Reddit sub posted a screenshot of what looked to be a preview of upcoming foods coming to the menu. Among them was the Cantina Crispy Chicken Taco, which is the very item I tried.
The taco comes in a flour tortilla with a fried chicken tender inside, topped with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. You also have the choice of two different sauces when you order. One taco comes with a chipotle sauce, while the other comes with avocado sauce.
Considering I am a Taco Bell fan and harbor borderline religious devotion towards my beloved Mexican Pizza (which has gone off to war again, sob), I expected this taco to be fairly good. Taco Bell’s quality hasn’t really wavered over the years as far as I’m concerned, and I’m always impressed with its creativity, so I was looking forward to giving this a try.
I’m sad to say that it did not live up to my expectations.
The chicken inside the taco is…okay. It’s not great, and it’s not terrible. It’s fried hard, so I found it a bit difficult to bite into in some places. Taco Bell aims to draw your attention away from that by drenching it in either the avocado or the chipotle sauce. The latter at least presented something new and I did like that, but once you know a sauce is covering up a so-so product, you can’t unknow it, if you get my drift.
Also, the excuse that this is fast food so I’m expecting too much for my chicken to be well-seasoned really doesn’t fly here. Popeyes (QSR) – Get Restaurant Brands International Inc. Report and Chick Fil A have both got that figured out. So while I know Taco Bell doesn’t specialize in fried chicken and the other two chains do, I really feel like it could have done a lot better here.
However, the Cantina Crispy Chicken Taco already has a following online because it’s making a comeback here, especially from fans that miss McDonald’s Snack Wraps, which some say taste similar.
So maybe I’m a hater, or I expect too much from a fast food company that sells food that costs a dollar. Either way, the Cantina Crispy Chicken Taco gets a thumbs down from me.