A lot of people wear the word “foodie” like a badge of honor when, really, it’s a sign you’re a pretentious asshole. Liking kale and truffles doesn’t make you some kind of savant, OK? And while plenty of big-deal restaurants and celebrity chefs cater their menus to these trends, most regular-ass people enjoy the simple pleasures of a good burger or some tacos, and that often leads them to America’s many wonderful fast food, fast casual, and carryout chains. This is a food column for them. For us.
Among the food franchises, Taco Bell is one of the few to attract a cultlike following. People just like to live más, man—enjoying tacos, burritos, and wraps is a way of life. But really, Taco Bell has earned such a level of devotion because its business model, whether it’ll admit it or not, caters to potheads and heavy drinkers. For one, many of its drive-thrus are open til 3 a.m. (instead of being that jerk, find someone sober to take you, OK?) But what really separates them from the pack is its stoner-like imagination, using its stock ingredients—meat, beans, some vegetables, tortillas, and cheese—to create a myriad of menu items. “What if we, like, made a taco shell out of Doritos?” is the stoniest innovation of all time. And the Bell always seems willing to try new things, which is reason enough for repeat visits.
One such new idea is the restaurant’s Chickstar menu, wherein Taco Bell brings crispy chicken to some of its regular menu items, most notably the hexagonal, stuffed Crunchwrap Supreme. In addition to the three flavors of wraps, Mango BBQ, Chipotle, and Bacon Ranch, there are grillers (wraps, basically) and a crispy chicken quesadilla. We opted for the Bacon Ranch combo, which comes with a soft taco and large soda for $6.78, on a recent visit to the Taco Bell on Pulaski Highway in East Baltimore, and it once again proved that Taco Bell can do no wrong. Slathered in dressing and with a healthy dose of bacon bits, the wrap proved to be a winning addition to the hard-to-fuck-up triumvirate of chicken, ranch dressing, and bacon. The chicken strips were heavily coated with a nice and crispy corn tortilla coating; our only complaint is they were a little on the lean side. All the flavors were equally distributed in the hulking wrap, which was tightly packed without coming undone, something that can’t always be said for Chipotle.
On the catering-to-stoners tip, Taco Bell is reportedly working on a delivery service. They truly understand their market. We can only hope it soon comes to Baltimore, a city desperately lacking in locations for a border run.