Taco Bell has a fever, and the only prescription is more innovating

Product shot of Doritos Locos Taco
Photo: Taco Bell (Getty Images)

Living through a pandemic has meant an entire year in which exciting new Taco Bell innovations did not continue apace. We’d grown accustomed to a world where every six weeks or so we’d be blown away by some sort of scientific miracle like Triplelupas or Quesalupas. We could have—and should have— spent 2020 in pursuit of the mythical Dodecahedralupa, but instead we all sat at home while Taco Bell discontinued Mexican Pizza and we were powerless to stop it.

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But now, Taco Bell is ready to burst out the other side like a high-pressure hose full of nacho cheese. In answer to our prayers that it would enter the brutal chicken sandwich wars, a crispy chicken sandwich taco is on its way. New dishes featuring Beyond Meat will be tested at some point this year. Potatoes have returned to the menu after a temporary absence, the Quesalupa came back after a five-year stint in the Taco Bell Vault (where it underwent “years of perfecting the recipe,” per a press release), and a new beverage, the Wild Strawberry Lemonade Freeze, made its grand debut. And now we have received word that there are more new items in the market testing phase! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!

Two of these new items are bound for the value menu: Spicy Tacos and Primo Burritos, starting at a cost of one single smackaroonie. Currently being tested in Columbus, Ohio, the $1 Spicy Tacos are the standard combo of tortilla, beef, lettuce, and cheddar cheese, but they come with a choice of three very special “bold spicy sauces”: Mild Jalapeño, Medium Chipotle, and White Hot Ranch. That’s right: Taco Bell has made ranch dressing white freaking hot, which is something we’ve all been wishing for, whether we knew it or not.

Kansas City, Missouri is the lucky city that gets to test out one of two Primo Burritos, because when you’ve got a whole year of misery to compensate for, a single burrito just isn’t enough. The $1 Loaded Taco Primo Burrito is a flour tortilla filled with seasoned beef, “crunchy red strips,” lettuce, reduced fat sour cream, and cheddar cheese. The slightly more premium $1.49 Chicken Enchilada Primo Burrito made with white meat chicken, reduced fat sour cream, seasoned rice, enchilada sauce, and cheddar cheese in a flour tortilla.

If you’ve been praying the Bell would eventually get into the bowl racket, you’ll be happy to learn that Portland, Oregon, is testing three different “Stacked Bowls,” all built atop a blend of lettuce and crunchy purple cabbage. The Beef Taco Bowl features a double portion of seasoned beef, seasoned rice, refried beans, crunchy red strips, a three-cheese blend, reduced fat sour cream, tomatoes, and guacamole; the Stacked Avocado Ranch Chicken Bowl is a double serving of chicken, seasoned rice, black beans, a three-cheese blend, and avocado ranch sauce; the Stacked Steak Melt Bowl is a double portion of marinated grilled steak, seasoned rice, black beans, crunchy red strips, tomatoes, creamy chipotle sauce, and a double portion of a melted three-cheese. Each one retails for $4.49-$4.99.

Things aren’t as cabbagey in Houston, Texas, where Taco Bell is testing the Grilled Cheese Stacked: a flour tortilla with seasoned beef, a three-cheese blend, and nacho cheese sauce folded into “Taco Bell’s signature stacker tri-fold” and topped with grilled cheese. This sells for $2.49.

Finally, bringing it back to Ohio, the good people of Cleveland are testing the merits of the Chicken Enchilada Grilled Cheese Burrito, a flour tortilla filled with chicken, rice, a three-cheese blend, “crunchy red strips” (we wouldn’t be mad if Taco Bell came up with a more fun name for these), enchilada sauce, and sour cream, topped with a layer of grilled cheese, for $2.99.

First we get vaccines, and then we get ten years’ worth of Taco Bell futurism in a matter of weeks. Hopefully these items all see a nationwide release once they’ve sat in their respective test markets for a while. After all, we’ve got a lot of Living Mas to make up for.

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DISCUSSION

By
Julia Q.

Bring back the potato burrito you goddamn monsters.

Also, red strips are now fiesta crunchies, you’re fucking welcome.

*slides oversized sunglasses on and confetti guns explode behind her*