Road Bites: Taco Bell's Crunchy Taco

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Life might not have been simpler in the 1970s, but the menu at Taco Bell certainly was. Perhaps six or seven items populated the Mexican-inspired fast food chain’s list of offerings then, and of those, very few can be found on the contemporary menu, stuffed as it is with Doritos-this and Extreme Baja-that, all festooned with “crunchy red strips” of uncertain provenance.

Back then, you ordered a taco. You got a taco. No need to specify “crunchy” or soft, no need to ask for it to be glued to another shell with refried beans or smothered in odd sauces. It was a taco: spiced beef mixture, lettuce, and cheddar cheese inside a hard corn tortilla shell. Perhaps not a taco in the sense anyone versed in Mexican cuisine would recognize, but the taco of my and many Americans’ youth.

Upon a recent visit to a Taco Bell in Frederick, Maryland, I ordered a meal composed of items you would have found way back when: crunchy taco, bean burrito, and pintos and cheese (frijoles, once upon a time).

Crunchy Taco and Pintos and Cheese from Taco Bell

For all the changes, the taco brought back memories of those originals from the ’70s. The timeless construction of spiced meat at the bottom, then shredded lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese at top, comforted me for some reason. Unlike my sandwich rule of proper ingredient distribution, a good fast-food taco needs variety—a bit of lettuce and cheese (with hot sauce added) this time, a bit of meat and lettuce next, with the cracking shell adding texture to each bite. Sure, the cheddar was industrially shredded three hundred miles (and who knows how many weeks) away, and the shell was hardly just-fried, but the experience was simple, filling, and just a bit nostalgic.

I tend to eat better (or at least more proper) tacos now, filled with al pastor and barbacoa, but you’re not always going to find a taco truck or taqueria on the road. My Taco Bell stop proved to be an inexpensive, interesting, and well-prepared meal, enough to get me back on the road to my destination, like a good road bite should.

And if Taco Bell would ever bring back the classic enchirito and tostado, well, I’d be stopping by quite a bit more often.

2 thoughts on “Road Bites: Taco Bell's Crunchy Taco

  1. VegasDude

    YES.. the Original Enchirito… AND.. Original Burrito Supreme… Yes.. It USED to be Awesome..

    Once I found the recipe to make their ORIGINAL Meat mixture I started making my GOOD, Old, FRESH INGREDIENT favorites at home.. I started making 1 lb of meat .. but.. then I’d be eating it ALL WEEK LONG.. :0)… SO now I make 1/2lb … I make Mexican Pizza’s, Original Enchiritos WITH OLIVES !!. Mexi-Melts… and my old Ultimate.. Bean Burrito’s with Green Sauce and Sour Cream.. . It was bad enough when that little pot of Green Sauce was replaced with packets.. but NOW.. some Don’t even HAVE the packets of Green Sauce.. I said.. cancel my order.. and left.. =)

  2. VegasDude

    OH.. and Pintos and Cheese USED to be.. Pinto Beans made with Lard, REAL CHEESE, and FRESH Sauce.. and it was YUMMY.. and 100 times HEALTHIER than the TOXIC Crap they now serve..

    SO.. what it USED TO BE.. AND…. NOW… IT…. IS…. “T H I S” …… Can you say.. NUFF SAID ??

    Beans: Pinto Beans, Soy Oil (Trans Fat Free Shortening With TBHQ And Citric Acid To Protect Flavor), Seasoning Blend (Salt, Sugar, Spice, Beet Powder [Color], Autolyzed Yeast Extract (Contains Gluten), Sunflower Oil, Maltodextrin [Corn, Potato, Tapioca], Inactivated Yeast, Corn Flour, Natural Flavors, Trehalose, ..

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