Food & Drink

Fast Food Review: Taco Bell’s Loaded Grillers


99 cents. Loaded. Oxymoron.

The commercials for Taco Bell’s Loaded Grillers suggest that their most positive attribute is the fact that you don’t have to share them. Putting aside all memories of a finger-wagging parent teaching us that it’s good to share, the obvious question here is why anybody would want to share these. And why, in fact, would they be so demonstrably shareproof…unless they’re indisputably unappealing?

Somebody had to find out.

There are three Loaded Grillers, each designed to mimic a popular restaurant appetizer: spicy chicken, beefy nacho and loaded potato. The loaded potato one ruled me out right away – Taco Bell’s ashy attempt at reconstituting America’s favorite tuber is not something anybody who already knows better should subject him or herself to. Ditto their bacon bits. The Bell may not resemble real Mexican food to any degree, but it does have this in common with actual restaurants in the same vague genre – the fact that bacon probably isn’t the main thing you’d want to order.

Size-wise, these things are in the “MexiMelt” range rather than the “Grilled Stuft” range, though they’re prepared like the Grilled Stuft – folded over themselves excessively so that most of what you see is actually tortilla rather than filling, then grilled. The MexiMelt is only 70 cents more, and worth every penny, but that’s not the issue here. The beefy nacho griller contains Taco Bell’s ground beef, nacho cheese sauce and red corn strips. And it’s not bad – carb-heavy, but enjoyable enough as filler for broke students and indiscriminate potheads.

Spicy chicken – now that’s a whole different adventure. There are Mexican restaurants that do bacon, but if you find one that serves buffalo wings, you might want to rethink your dinner plans. I’ve railed against the whole notion of so-called boneless wings, which are actually shaped breast-meat nuggets, but suffice it to say that boneless wings, as of this moment, are far from the worst travesty to befall our best-loved ornithological appendages.

The first thing you notice about the spicy chicken griller is that it is indeed spicy. It has a kick unlike anything I’ve had at “the border” since they discontinued Wild sauce. It needs it, because the burning sensation is the only thing distracting you from the actual taste. Buffalo sauce is not the model here – it’s basically slightly hotter Taco Bell Volcano sauce, which, like most of their other non-packet sauces, has a creamy base.

It’s the second sauce that’s the killer. Being white, it ought to be ranch, it probably is sour cream, but it might as well be mayonnaise considering that all it adds to the mini-burrito is a gloppiness that slightly takes the edge off the hot sauce. Two cream-based sauces combined were not needed here. Not that anything the place makes qualifies as “needed,” but you know what I mean. I couldn’t finish this item, tying it with McDonalds’ mushroom-swiss Angus burger for that rare dubious honor.

So indeed, friends, if you bring these to any of my parties, I will not insist that you share them. Truth in advertising prevails.

(The image above, though – not so truthful in my neck of the woods, where I was charged $1.29 apiece.)