Monday, June 30, 2014

Taco Bell's All New Quesarito!

Is it a burrito, or a quesadilla, or simply a rolled up slice of heaven?

It's clear that Taco Bell views Chipotle as a major threat to the U.S.-ified Tex Mex fast food chain hierarchy. First, there was their line of gourmet tacos and burritos that looked and tasted suspiciously identical to Chipotle's much ballyhooed rolled up and bowled foodstuffs. Then, there was the Bell's announcement that it was going to open up its own line of higher-scale fast food eateries, whose MO sounds pretty much identical to Chipotle. And now, taking this rivalry to almost Bloods vs. Crips proportions, Taco Bell has fired what may very well be the fast food taco chain equivalent of the shelling of Fort Sumter: they've actually went and MASS MARKETED the competitor's off-the-menu urban legend!

The Quesarito, historically, has been known as a "secret" item that select Chipotle chains across the U.S. offered to customers who were in the know about furtive fast food offerings. Basically, a "quesarito" was a standard quesadilla, melted cheese and all, wrapped 360 degrees around a burrito. Sure, it sounds gross at first, but after a while, the inherent deliciousness of the concept strikes you. It may very well be the most ingenious way of making people fatter since the advent of the fried brownie, in my humblest of opinions.

I've tried ordering a quesarito a few times at various Chipotle stores, but always to no avail. With T-Bell riding high off their super-awesome breakfast menu blitzkrieg, I suppose they figured now was a good time to continue the offensive strategy, this time by defictionalizing their number one competitor's most mythical menu item!

Indeed, the items are EXACTLY what you'd expect them to be. They're semi-gourmet burritos -- topped off by your choice of meat -- blanketed by a thick, gooey tortilla wearing molten cheese like warpaint. I'm guessing the universe as a whole is split, 50-50, on whether or not that's the most salivating idea ever, or the absolute freaking grossest.

Currently, the Bell is offering three variations of the Quesarito. We'll take a look at the steak permutation first -- primarily, because that was the first one I opened up.

As you can see for yourself, we've got quite the medley of flavors going on here. There's cheddar cheese, some wild rice, some sour cream and a smidge of chipotle sauce, alongside the sinewy chunks of dead steer. Of the three variations, this was probably the least bold in terms of flavor; for fast food adventurers who don't like any surprises, this is probably your best bet heading into the Great Quesarito-Off of 2014.

Next up is the beef version. As expected, it was extremely greasy, even on the outside of the tortilla. Of the three, it definitely felt the lightest.

I'd have to say this was my least favorite of the trio. For one, it didn't feel as if there was anywhere near as much rice chunked into the 'rito,  and the overall cheese and sour cream quotient felt pretty low, too. Nobody will ever hail Taco Bell for having the best ground beef in the world, so however you feel about it in normal Bell offerings will probably swing your overall impression of this item.

The shredded chicken Quesarito was definitely the heaviest of the three permutations, and smelled the weirdest, too. It almost smelled like Texas Pete, but then again, I guess anytime you combine poultry with chipotle sauce, that shit's going to end up smelling like hot sauce, no matter what.

This one was probably my favorite, because there appeared to be way more sour cream and sauce tossed into the goulash. I've never been a big fan of chicken, but this one certainly outdid both the steak and beef versions. The nacho cheese also seemed to gel the best with this one: overall, I'd say this is probably the best way to experience the Quesarito...that is, until the Bell inevitably wheels out their special Doritos Locos Tacos Quesarito. With chunks of grounded up waffle taco in it.

All in all, I thought Taco Bell's stab at Quesaritoes wasn't half-bad. They probably won't become anybody's favorite menu item, and their longevity as an offering is definitely suspect, but as a quick meal, circa July 2014? These things will do you quite well, especially if you are already fat, really sweaty, and not just giving a damn about most things anymore. Which, I know, is pretty much everybody reading this right now.

The big question now, I reckon, is obvious: will Chipotle strike back by trotting out THEIR version of the much-requested old school Taco Bell enchirito this autumn?

Stay tuned, fast food Tex-Mex enthusiasts: things are starting to get very interesting around these parts...


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