Taco Bell Seven-Layer Burrito
This simple, classic vegetarian fast food burrito option still works. The guacamole and sour cream added to the beans and rice are done with a swift hand, never letting too much get in the way. The tomato is more noticeable in this burrito too, in a good way. Unfortunately, the hot shreds of lettuce get rubbery pretty quickly, but you can’t expect perfection here.
Taco Bell Black Bean Burrito
As a fresher take on the traditional bean and cheese, this one actually isn’t bad. The rice is given a hint of cilantro freshness but otherwise arrives unadorned, and the black beans hold together nicely but could use some salt to make them pop. The cheese is a thin afterthought and the red sauce provides some vinegar bite but not much in the way of flavor.
Taco Bell Cantina Burrito
Ordering from the Taco Bell Cantina menu over the past five weeks has come with mixed results. Besides the well-griddled tortilla, this burrito is a total failure. The slick green rice that makes up the vast majority of this burrito is absolutely drenched in a thick, cilantro-heavy sauce with the same consistency as mayonnaise. What little black beans there are stand no chance, and neither does your poor mouth.
Taco Bell Bean Fresco Bean Burrito
This isn’t a straight bean & cheese, but it’s close. The cheese is ditched in favor of a few tomato-y chunks of pico de gallo (that’s Fiesta Salsa, in Taco Bell parlance), and that’s about it. If you’re looking for indistinguishable slop in a steamed tortilla, this is your joint.
Del Taco Veggie Works Burrito
Del Taco’s version of the vaunted Seven Layer Burrito is called the Veggie Works; a true misnomer if ever there was one. There is little that ‘works’ about this burrito, from the hardened rice and sloppy hot sauce to the near complete absence of real bites of lettuce and tomatoes. Whoever named this bad burrito apparently considers sour cream to be a vegetable, because it’s by far the most overpowering flavor.
Long-time Chipotleans love to rave about the vegetarian options and the company’s natural healthiness over the oily, mushy fast food stops. Well, if ordering up a two-pound veggie baby counts as healthy, you might be right. In reality, dropping rice, beans, corn salsa, sautéed peppers and onions, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole (the guac is free for veggie burritos) into a steamed tortilla is absolute overload. You might have more success with a calmer fajita-style burrito, or something more akin to pure rice and beans, but when Chipotle considers a glorified condiment like guacamole to be the most important part of your burrito, everyone loses.
Wow, does Qdoba kick Chipotle to the curb with its version of the veggie burrito. First, they wrap up grilled squash and zucchini with fun add-ons like tortilla strips. Secondly, the folks at Qdoba aren’t so beholden to guacamole as a mainstay. Instead, ordering up a big ol’ burrito here means much more balance between cilantro rice, black beans, grilled veggies and toppings like corn salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream and guac.
One more thing: I’ve been very critical of Qdoba and their steamed tortilla operation since day one, but this is the first time I actually sort of got it. Sure, it still makes the tortilla lukewarm and a little rubbery, but with this many fresh ingredients packed inside, it’s absolutely needed. Any spillage with this bomb would absolutely spell disaster.
This was by far the cheesiest of all the burritos we tried. Actually, I was surprised at how dainty all of the other places were with cheese, considering it’s a mainstay in so many veggie options available on the fast-food market. This was also one of the few burritos that didn’t come with rice. By paring down the burrito’s size and focusing on the grilled onions and peppers, the freshness and simple flavors that I imagine a lot of vegetarians are looking for absolutely shine through.
Rubio’s Grilled Veggie Burrito
Until now, I’ve had largely positive things to say about Rubio’s and their attention to quality. But you can’t expect much from your grilled veggie burrito when it’s tucked away on the same menu as the kids meals. Sure, the peppers and onions might be fire-roasted, but they’ve got no life left in them. Too soft for any satisfying bite and not fired long enough for smoky, charred goodness, they instead anchor down an already mushy burrito that is absolutely stuffed with guacamole. Other flavors need not apply.
BONUS: Rubio’s Portobello & Poblano Tacos
And just like that, all is redeemed. The tacos start with the same fried corn tortilla and cheese that comes standard on their gourmet tacos, and adds in tender slivers of Portobello mushrooms and fired Poblano peppers. The habanero citrus salsa is a bit sweet, but the rest of the mix (including the avocado slices and dusting of cojita cheese) work very well together. In fact, this might be the best gourmet taco version that Rubio’s offers.
BONUS: Wahoo’s Mushroom Tacos
Man, oh man. It took weeks and weeks of me making fun of Wahoo’s but we finally found something they’re actually good at. Decent chunks of browned mushrooms are glazed in a sweet-ish Polynesian marinade, without sacrificing on tenderness and mushroom funkiness. The cheese adds a nice touch of dairy coolness, and I don’t even mind the pulled leaf lettuce and pale tomatoes that much.
Wahoo’s ‘Mr. Lee Sauce’
I don’t know who Mr. Lee is or if he would even approve of this oily, spicy, lightly sweet sauce, but I sure do. It’s thick and goopy and has no real business being inside a tortilla, but dabbing some on your mushroom tacos will blend flavors nicely and add warmth you didn’t even know you were missing.
Wahoo’s Banzai Veggies Burrito
Welp, I spoke to soon. Wahoo’s ‘Banzai’ veggie burrito is barely even a burrito. When you start stuffing my tortilla with broccoli and douse the whole thing in a teriyaki sauce, we’ve got a problem. There is so much wetness on this plate that you can barely pick up half the burrito without searching for a napkin. Plus, the lukewarm (and now soaking) tortilla quickly starts to taste and feel like a bad version of an unfried spring roll. Stay away.