The last time I ate a burrito from Taco Bell was not a pleasant experience. In my youth, I used to scarf down soft taco after soft taco. But once I ventured into burrito-land, it proved to be a disaster—the "refried burrito beans" tasted more like refried beans diluted with wet ketchup, and I mustered all my strength not to get sick inside Grandma's Lincoln.
But after more than a decade, I steeled my stomach and headed to Taco Bell to try their new Beefy Crunch Burrito.
Brand new to the menu, the Beefy Crunch Burrito contains ground beef, Fritos Flamin' Hot chips, nacho cheese sauce, rice, and sour cream all on a tortilla. (At long last, the food industry recognizes that Fritos can be a delicious topping.) One burrito costs only $0.99—they're practically giving them away.
On the first bite, it's hard to taste more than the tortilla, sour cream, and spicy cheese sauce. Taco Bell has not yet developed a proper wrapping technique to make the bites toward the beginning meaty, cheesy ones. (Balance is key to a good burrito.) The end isn't much but folded tortilla with sauces seeping in. But get to the middle, and things get a bit better. Sure, the beef is somewhat sparse, and on mine, the rice was undercooked and the sour cream too plentiful. The Fritos, key to this burrito, ended up more soggy than crunchy, and not very hot.
Still, it's an improvement over some of their old burritos. It didn't contain that refried bean-tchup, and it's hard to talk too badly of a dollar meal. Taco Bell stole my third grade technique of putting Fritos on my turkey sandwich, and applied it to burritos—which I applaud. It's not something I'll run back for, and I can already tell that the Beefy Crunch Burrito won't make my fast food top five list in 2011—but if I had to go to Taco Bell, I might well order another one.
About the author: John M. Edwards, resident parasite at Serious Eats World Headquarters, can eat tall Double Downs in a single bite. Follow him on Twitter.