Taco Bell’s Toasted Cheddar Chalupa is solid gold

Illustration for article titled Taco Bell’s Toasted Cheddar Chalupa is solid gold
Photo: Kate Bernot

At first blush, you could have taken Taco Bell’s new Toasted Cheddar Chalupa for a phone-it-in “innovation.” Start with a beloved menu item, add cheese. Boom—innovation. But, upon biting into its cheesy, shatter-crisp exterior, I can say: Sometimes the most beautiful things in life are the simplest.

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The new chalupa debuted nationally September 12 as part of Taco Bell’s larger menu shake-up that also saw the untimely death of the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos and the introduction of a dedicated vegetarian section. At the Taco Bell I visited, the new Chalupa’s arrival was heralded with proper fanfare: A big menu display and a new combo that pairs one Toasted Cheddar Chalupa with two crunchy tacos and a drink for $5 (at participating stores, some restrictions may apply, see store for details, forever and ever amen).

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I ordered my Toasted Cheddar Chalupa alongside a standard Chalupa because I know how a control-based study works. Maybe I received the very last Chalupa before the new batch was fried because my standard one was a letdown: no crunch at all, just a sad, pitalike dough sleeve. I thought I loved Chalupas. Did my memory fail me? I subsequently took a bite of the Toasted Cheddar Chalupa, and the Chalupa category totally redeemed itself.

The Toasted Cheddar Chalupa’s exterior is encrusted with a layer of extra-crunchy cheese, reminiscent of the cheese discs produced when you’re broiling something and cheese drips onto the baking sheet or the satisfying frico of melted-hard cheese that sticks to the bottom of a delivery pizza box. The end of the cheddar Chalupa shattered when I bit it with a tempura-like crispiness, yet the rest of the shell held its form.

Not only does the toasted cheese add a double layer of crunch, but it’s perceptibly cheddary, even when covered in Fire sauce. That initial cheddar bite synchs up with the shredded cheese inside the Chalupa, creating a cheese-flavored echo.

Fans of the original Chalupa are almost guaranteed to have a new favorite on their hands: the toasted cheddar version improves on the O.G. both in terms of texture and flavor. It’s almost enough to make me forget all about the Cool Ranch Doritos Loco Taco.

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Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

istaririses
istari rises

even when covered in Fire sauce

This might be an unpopular opinion here, but Fire sauce is Taco Bell’s best hot sauce by a landslide.

I’ve seen another writer here sing the praises of their Diablo sauce, but that shit is disgusting garbage that tastes like they just tried to make a sauce as hot as they could while not actually offending a Midwestern palate, without taking into account its flavor profile. I swear I can feel the grittiness of too much chili powder.

My point being, excellent choice covering your chalupa in Fire sauce! I do it every time I order one.