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Friday, May 22, 2009

Taco Bell Authentic Tacos

July 29, 2010: See update near bottom of this entry.

(Greetings to all the people coming from Nancy Luna's Fast Food Maven blog on the OC Register site and from Burger Business. After you're done reading this entry click around the site for plenty of information about Mexican food and restaurants in Orange County. There's links all over to help you out.)

Aaaahh . . . Taco Bell, that punching bag of all things Mexican, the chain that gets all the calumny, scorn, and defamation a place can get for being "fake Mexican;" the purveyor of such clearly non-authentic items as the Pizzazz (now called "Mexican pizza" and not as good as it used to be), the Enchirito, the Crispitos, the Snackitos, the Munchitos, the Crunchwrap Supreme, the MexiMelt, and more; the chain that gets accused of creating "fake Mexican" items like gorditas and chalupas when gorditas and chalupas actually did originate in Mexico; the chain that mass-produces what it only officially claims to be "Mexican-inspired" food for thousands, perhaps millions, of people, including Mexicans, every day throughout the world.

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The cognoscenti have a heyday reviling Taco Bell as the worst of the worst of all inauthentic Mexican places. But, seriously, isn't it just way too easy of a target? They aren't trying to trick anybody into thinking they are the independent little taco stand hiding out deep in Santa Ana, so, personally, I don't see any attempt at "fooling the public" by corporate Taco Bell that I have to psychologically steel myself against.

When Taco Bell gets branded as inauthentic I'll sometimes retort with, "Believe me, I know where you're coming from, but I still see Taco Bell as way more Mexican than Panda Express." Having said that, there's still no escaping the fact that Taco Bell is on the low end of the authenticity spectrum. But I did just receive a tip from an unexpected source that the "Test Bell" at Redhill and the 5 was testing "authentic tacos." (UPDATE: I have also seen them on sale at the Taco Bell at Warner and Grand in Santa Ana.) Having had no breakfast and being open to an early lunch I headed out there and found that these things really are called "Authentic Tacos:"

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Available in chicken or steak (sorry, no lengua, cabeza, sesos, etc. although it should be easy for them to pull off something like an al pastor taco), foil-wrapped with no Taco Bell insignia to be seen, served on two corn tortillas, topped with cilantro and onions, rather than lettuce and tomatoes, served with a lime wedge, and no cheese, it'd be easy to get these mixed up with truly authentic tacos from numerous authentic stands. It also helped that they passed my no-gristle test.

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I even squeeze some of the leftover lime juice into my Mountain Dew Baja Blast (when I go inside a Taco Bell I like to make a concoction that is roughly three parts Mirinda brand strawberry soda and one part Baja Blast). And here's the first picture I've taken with my brand new camera set to "Food" mode, with a chicken and a steak "authentic taco" and one of the new 89¢ grilled chicken burritos:

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Am hoping that my new camera will be taking better dim light photos than my prior camera did.

And, this Tustin location still has the Fiesta Family Meal:

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And they also still have the Munchitos that I mentioned quite a while back:

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If you're looking for "Test Bells" that have items not on regular Taco Bell menus the four I know of are this one in Irvine, this one in Tustin, this one in Santa Ana, and this one in Lake Forest.

Also, most Taco Bells seem to now have the new Piña Colada and Strawberry Colada Frutista Freeze beverages:


Oh, and limeade and cherry limeade Frutista drinks and three kinds of double chicken burritos:

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UPDATE: The limeades are now 99¢ for a medium and $1.29 for a large, marked down drastically from the prices shown in the photo above.

UPDATE (July 28, 2009): It appears that the "Authentic Tacos" are now called "Cantina Grill Cantina Tacos" and have, like the limeade, been drastically reduced in price from $1.89 to $1.29:

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UPDATE (July 29, 2010): The Taco Bell at Red Hill and the 5 now has Slow Roasted Pork Carnitas Tacos:

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CLICK HERE for our complete and extensive Taco Bell coverage but also be aware that we have covered many other places at this blog . . . "from taco trucks to upscale dining . . . and everything in between."

12 comments:

V said...

Nice post! I get tired of people putting down TB all the time. It is definitely not authenic, but "it is what it is"... which would be: tasty, quick and inexpensive.

ChristianZ said...

Exactly, it is what it is and doesn't claim to be anything it isn't. To me, bragging that you ripped Taco Bell as "inauthentic" is like the schoolyard bully bragging that he's beat up the handicapped kid.

DanGarion said...

I don't know, their meat just never tastes that great. It always tastes like it has emulsifier or something in it.

ChristianZ said...

Well, give these a try and leave a comment about what you think.

angusinirvine said...

I tried 'em last night from the TB on Barranca. Better than expected -- definitely the best thing I've had there. Tortillas could be a bit more firm (to be fair I went through the drivethrough so they probably 'steamed' a bit on the 3 min. ride home). Best touch: placing the lime slice in a fold in the foil so it doesn't touch the taco until you open it. Definitely should be an add to their regular menu!

ChristianZ said...

Thank you for trying these out and leaving your opinion. Good points on the steam and the lime.

Anonymous said...

I had the new tacos last night for the first time and I thought they were horrible. I ate them in-store, but they were very mushy and tasteless. I'll take the "unauthentic" ones anyday. I love Taco Bell, but these were nasty.

ChristianZ said...

I haven't had them in a while. You might've got a bad one, or maybe they have all gone downhill.

Anonymous said...

The Taco Bell in Santa Nella has the Cantina Grill Tacos as well! Stupid me didn't bother to try them, though.

ChristianZ said...

Let us know if you ever get to try them.

JEANNETTEV said...

OK SO IM A CALIFORNIAN BORN AND RAISE. MOVED OUT TO NY 3 YRS AGO AND REAL MEXICAN FOOD IS SO HARD TO FIND IF I DONT MAKE IT MYSELF. BUT WE'RE ALWAYS CRAVING TACO TRUCK TACOS. IF TB IS THE CLOSEST WE CAN GET NOW I SO WANT SOME ONLY PROBLEM IS OUR TACO BELL DOESNT SELL THEM AND NEVER HAS WERE NOV.'09. DO YOU THINK ILL SEE THEM IN THE FUTURE?

Anonymous said...

I had the "authentic" tacos last night. Most disgusting thing I have ever had from taco bell...tasted like cardboard, weird sour aftertaste. Never again. I'll stick with the regular TB menu!