Fast Food: Dunkin' Donuts Southwest Breakfast Burritos

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Good morning, Serious Eaters! Are you sick of tacos yet? I'm sick of tacos. I like eating them but I'm tired of having them shoved down my throat. These days it seems like 80% of the nonporn Internet—and a smaller but even more disturbing slice of the porn Internet—is devoted to taco appreciation. I prefer burritos, which is tough luck now that tacos have taken over the stuff-in-a-tortilla market at lunch, dinner, and dessert; let's hurry up and talk about breakfast burritos before the taco thugs storm the morning, too.

Dunkin' Donuts food is very hit or miss. Most of their breakfast items feature decent meat and bad eggs, with that tie broken by the bread. This usually tips things into the miss bucket, because more often than not the bread is one of their giant, crappy bagels. The only choices when building a sandwich between the monstrous halves of a DD bagel are to use too little stuffing for the bread to hold or too much stuffing for the human to eat. Balance is impossible.

That problem could be solved in a breakfast burrito, in which the thin flour tortilla won't overwhelm any good flavors but also won't hide any mistakes. Burritos tell no lies. I tried their new Southwest Veggie and Southwest Steak burritos to see if Dunkin' Donuts could handle the truth.

These burritos are about 6 inches long by 2 inches wide by an inch tall, which is smaller than it sounds. They look more like rolled-up breakfast tacos, or maybe breakfast enchiladas (if you accept my dumb-but-reasonable theory that at the lowest end of the market, Tex-Mex food taxonomy is based primarily on the size of the tortilla and the placement of the cheese). But despite being underwhelming to the naked eye, they're fairly substantial to the mouth and the gut.

The Southwest Veggie has 330 calories and the Steak's got 340, which is plenty for most people's breakfast and a fair shake for $2.99.

A Dunkin' Donuts tortilla has even less flavor than I'd expected, and hooray for that. A fast food tortilla isn't likely to have a good flavor, so the best feasible outcome is no flavor at all. Both tortillas were hot and toasted dry, without any breakfast-wrecking exterior sweat.

The meat was the strongest part of the Southwest Steak, which is enough to make it a qualified success. The steak bits were small but plentiful, and they tasted distinctly beefy in a peppery, jerky-like fashion that suggested integrity more so than quality. This is cheap beef, but it is real beef. The beef party is crashed by a few nubs of translucent onion and good but scare green pepper. The scrambled (as opposed to disked) egg looks plentiful but tastes invisible, which is probably for the best. The cheese goo is the beef's only real competition, and while it's not too bad, this burrito-eater was glad the steak taste prevailed.

The Soutwest Veggie version was slightly inferior to the SW Steak; the lack of a dominant flavor pushed the cheese a little too far forward. I give this one major points, though, for actually making good on DD's claims of "fire-roasted vegetables." I don't know how they pulled it off, but I'll be damned if there weren't some singe marks on the corn! I don't know that this contributed to the flavor in any meaningful way, but it's still a nice touch that restores my faith in fast-food adjectives. Before we get too excited, I must point out that I detected nary a trace of the "southwest spices" alleged to coat my fire-roasted veggies, but, you know, baby steps.

The vegetables in question were corn, green pepper, surprisingly flavorful carrot and spinach, and irrelevant onion; there were also a couple of nice, firm black beans. If they quintupled the bean count and cut back on the worthless scrambled egg, this would be a nice burrito. As constructed, it's acceptable but inferior to the Southwest Steak.

About the author: Will Gordon loves life and hates mayonnaise. You can eat and drink with him in Boston or follow him on twitter @WillGordonAgain.

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