Taco Bell is always good. The fast food chain has nailed an affordable menu with plenty of variety so that you’ll never tire of the menu, and anyone can find something for them. I first fell in love with Taco Bell when I became a vegetarian at 16—it was one of the only places I could easily go through the drive-thru and get a satisfying, meat-free meal on a teenager’s budget. That’s when I first learned of the wonders of the chain’s customizations: Every meal I ordered there could be exactly what I wanted it to be.
If seasoned ground beef, the standard protein in most Taco Bell items, isn’t your speed, never forget that you can always swap it out for something else. For the carnivores out there who just want to mix it up, there’s always the option to make your chalupa into a chicken or steak treat. But the ability to choose substitutions is an especially joyful revelation for anyone not eating meat.
Though Taco Bell has yet to dip its toe into the plant-based meat waters, it doesn’t really have to: It boasts a certified American Vegetarian Association menu and plenty of other hearty meatless fill-ins. You haven’t experienced the full potential of a Crunchwrap Supreme until you’ve had it with potatoes instead of beef. Add some black beans into the mix for a real helping of protein, either with the potatoes inside the Crunchwrap or on their own as a side.
Yes, Taco Bell is known for its hot sauce packets, but there are more flavor punches to be had beyond the Mild and Diablo. Depending on your craving on any particular day, there are nine other sauces that can always be added to any menu item:
- Avocado Ranch Sauce
- Chipotle Sauce
- Creamy Jalapeño Sauce
- Green Sauce
- Mexican Pizza Sauce
- Nacho Cheese Sauce
- Red Sauce
- Sour Cream
The best part? Unlike certain other Mexican chains, adding guac won’t cost you an arm and leg—each sauce is available for under a buck, so go nuts and come up with the avocado Mexican pizza cheese sauce of your dreams.
Always add jalapeños. This is the best advice we can give you. The difference between a chalupa without jalapeños and a chalupa with them is night and day. Seasoned rice, meanwhile, can be added into any dish for a more full, traditional burrito feel. And even if something is not available as an add-on through your online ordering system, it never hurts to ask for an ingredient that you know is included in one dish to be added to another. For example, the Fiesta Veggie Burrito comes with Fiesta Strips, small strips of tortilla chips. Anytime you’re looking for a crunch, just ask for those to be added onto your menu item.
It’s also important to note that Taco Bell is always changing its menu, so keep a vigilant eye out for more possible add-ons. In the recent past, pico de gallo was a customizable option, one that made for a punchy substitute for plain chopped tomatoes. I’m praying for the day it returns to the menu.
If you want to put the versatility of Taco Bell’s menu to the test, try my custom lunch order: the 2 Chicken Chalupas Supreme Combo with one chicken Chalupa, one beef Chalupa, each with added jalapeños, Mexican pizza sauce on one, avocado ranch on the other, with the crunchy taco included in the combo swapped out for a soft shell supreme potato taco with nacho cheese. Where else can you find this kind of freedom?
Taco Bell offers simple flavors and is sometimes maligned for doing so. But consider those simple flavors a delicious canvas upon which you can paint any tastes you please. In the end, your Taco Bell meal can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.