Welcome to In Poor Taste, a column about decadent food trends delivered with the intellectual curiosity of a Michelin critic and the care of a mukbang enthusiast. In today’s edition, we’re testing out Taco Bell’s latest innovation, Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Tacos.
Of all the moral maxims we are forced to learn in childhood, the one that rings truest is some variant of this: Some things are too good to be true. Deciding to order two Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Tacos from Taco Bell on a particularly depressing Tuesday afternoon proved to be a crash course in the cliché. In theory, they sounded great—a rainbow of flavors and textures, a surprising bite of spice delivered in a moon-shaped tortilla, ornamented with delicious shreds of warm cheese and lettuce. But in practice, they looked bad and tasted... less bad, but certainly not good. I am not pleased to report that this is the first dud in the “In Poor Taste” series. (It is only the third entry.)
I like to consider myself a refined woman with refined tastes, therefore I am well aware that Taco Bell is the superior national fast-food chain. (Regional haunts like In-N-Out and Whataburger deserve to be considered in a category all their own.) But like most fast-food chains, Taco Bell’s savory menu basically consists of four different items (taco, quesadilla, burrito, nachos) repeated with slight alterations—and yet, those four items are damn good. If I’m on a road trip to nowhere, a Crunchwrap Supreme will get me there faster. A 7-layer burrito for the vegetarians in the van? Hell yeah. Most of Taco Bell’s combo meals come with an additional crunchy taco (soft tortilla lovers are on the wrong side of history), so I’m very familiar with the default taste. Upping their tacos’ “corn” hardshell exterior for a snack I love, Doritos, in a flavor I adore, Frito Lay’s Flamin’ Hot (the same seasoning used on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and all similar products) seemed like a no brainer. But they were bad.
First things first: the packaging was incredible—a cardboard coffin covered in flames that would make Guy Fieri proud. The logo was the familiar and ubiquitous “Flamin’ Hot” font, as enticing of a message as if it simply read, “You know you want me.” The taco that laid within was unappealing, but no one goes to Taco Bell for the aesthetics. The flavor is what keeps loyal costumers coming back. That, and its 24-hour locations and the existence of alcohol, but I digress.
And so I removed one Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Taco from its handheld holster and took a bite. The flavor was bland. The shell had a repulsive texture—like someone had dipped half an old, stale Flamin’ Hot Dorito in water and threw it in a deep fryer. But I’m no quitter, and so I took another bite. It yielded similarly disappointing results. “Why oh why didn’t I order a Crunchwrap Supreme instead?” I found myself crying out to no one. “This was a mistake! A decision truly made in poor taste, the very name of this franchise!” There was no noticeable kick, and it only left the thinnest orange residue on my hands—I was hoping for the full middle-school experience, but no fingers were dyed.
If you don’t love spicy food but enjoy the cultural cachet it seems to hold these days, Taco Bell’s Flamin’ Hot Doritos Locos Taco is a convenient way to brag to your friends. Otherwise, the classic crunchy taco with fire sauce is far superior. I said what I said.