Taco Bell's Waffle Taco Review: New Breakfast Disappoints
The lastest "meal" from the taco chain isn't tasty or crazy enough.
I've long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we're talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters, or working for organized crime "associates," food, for me, has always been an adventure.
-- Anthony Bourdain
On February 24, Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM) announced that its Taco Bell chain was taking its breakfast menu nationwide starting on March 27.
To celebrate, Taco Bell walked up to McDonald's (NYSE:MCD) and spit right on the Golden Arches.
Taco Bell actually rounded up a bunch of guys named Ronald McDonald and stuck them in a commercial to talk about how much they love Taco Bell's Waffle Tacos.
Well done, Deutche LA!
It's all in good fun, but it does feel a little dirty.
I mean, just imagine if Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) rounded up a bunch of guys named Steve Jobs to promote the Galaxy S5 smartphone.
Hint, hint McDonald's -- "Yo quiero Big Mac" could work...
So with Taco Bell's breakfast going nationwide, I decided to head down to see if I could trust the Ronald McDonalds' opinion of Taco Bell's Waffle Tacos.
I love fast food. I want to eat it all the time.
Whenever I travel, I get excited about hitting up chains that aren't in New York City. If I'm in Las Vegas, I make it a point to stop at In-N-Out Burger at least once. In late 2012, when I went to Los Angeles, I was pumped for Jack in the Box (NASDAQ:JACK) and Wahoo's Fish Tacos (I just found out there's a Wahoo's in NYC).
But two weeks ago, I had a serious wake-up call with regards to my health.
I tested positive for fried chicken and sharp cheddar.
I'm serious. My cholesterol was sky-high.
To save my poor heart, I immediately cut all the junk from my diet.
No more General Tso's chicken, no more mayonnaise, and certainly no more fast food.
I decided Saturday, April 5 would be the first day I'd let myself have a less-than-healthy breakfast. I only have so much discipline and I need a little pick-me-up once in a while.
Normally, when I'm looking for something full of carbs and sodium and saturated fat, I go for bacon, egg, and cheese on a bagel. There's nothing better.
But with Taco Bell's breakfast menu coming to New York City, I figured I could use the Waffle Taco to get my fix and write an article about the experience.
So What Is a Waffle Taco?
Take a waffle. Add eggs, cheese, and a choice of bacon or sausage, and serve syrup on the side. Voilà -- you have Taco Bell's Waffle Taco.
Here's the bacon version.
How about an extreme close-up?
Oh man, that's beautiful.
So What's It Taste Like?
Let's back up for one second.
I want to emphasize that before this meal, I'd eaten zero junk food in the past two weeks.
I turned down cupcakes.
I resisted the siren call of fried chicken.
Heck, I said no to a Chipwich!
So I was absolutely ravenous when I walked into Taco Bell at 8:16 Saturday morning.
And what happened?
I ended up eating less than half of my meal.
I had two Waffle Tacos -- one bacon and one sausage.
As is to be expected with fast food breakfast, the ingredients were basically okay, quality-wise. I wasn't expecting organic, free-range eggs, and that's fine. I was paying for fast food and fast food is what I got.
But it was all bland.
On my first bite, I was expecting some hint of decadence, something fun.
But the Waffle Tacos are effectively lumps of breakfast mush without much flavor. I could barely tell the difference between the bacon and sausage. Salt and pepper (or hot sauce if you like it) can only go so far.
And the waffle itself is too soft and rubbery. I actually forgot it was a waffle while I was eating it! In my mind, it was just really, really weird bread.
Pour Some Syrup on Me
After drenching my Waffle Tacos in syrup, they became marginally more edible, but not by much.
The syrup partially offsets the lack of flavor in the ingredients, but the Waffle Taco still never crosses over into greatness, or even goodness, in this reviewer's eyes.
Taco Bell came up with a great concept, but the Waffle Taco is just plain boring. The syrup can only go so far.
It's the breakfast equivalent of covering a lousy steak with ketchup.
The Waffle Taco just doesn't deliver on flavor, and it doesn't have the sheer absurdity factor of KFC's Double Down or Sonic's (NASDAQ:SONC) Peanut Butter & Bacon Shake. It's also not charming like a McDonald's Happy Meal.
On the plus side, Taco Bell's coffee was great. It's nice and hearty.
And the hash brown was hot and crispy, and only moderately greasy.
Bang for the Buck
I paid $4.29 for a breakfast combo with one Waffle Taco, a hash brown, and coffee. A second Waffle Taco was another $2.29. So you can pack in a lot of calories for your dollar.
However, if you're going to do serious damage to your cardiovascular system, you may as well pay another buck or two and get a superior meal from a deli or diner -- the Waffle Taco just isn't worth it.
Bacon and Eggs on a Donut? Really?
Time will tell if Taco Bell sees success in its breakfast rollout. Its marketing is certainly on point.
But going forward, Taco Bell had better watch out, because Dunkin Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN) is testing a bacon-and-egg breakfast sandwich served on a glazed freaking donut.
Yes, that sounds crazy, but crazy is the point. There is no room for normal in the wide world of fast food remixes.
Now excuse me. I've got a date with broccoli.
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