Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One man's experience with Volcano Tacos: A guest column

My friend Dan turned me onto Volcano Tacos via twitter. Though I have since become quite the VT enthusiast (I once ate five and a large Baja Blast in one sitting) I felt that it was only fair to let him review them. Here it is, with only one word changed.

When Nate, an old college friend, asked me to do a guest piece for the distinguished Nate’s Plate, I was honored, but not entirely surprised. I’ve been somewhat of a connoisseur of Taco Bell for most of my life, and considering the fact that 25% of the blood that flows through my veins is Mexican, Nate would be hard-pressed to find a more qualified reviewer.

I stumbled upon the Volcano Taco by accident while making a routine “run for the border.” Advertisements for the new menu item were plastered in every window as I pulled into the drive-through, and there was no question: I absolutely had to try one.

Although the prospect of yet another Taco Bell menu choice had me rock hard, I had almost no idea what to expect. I had yet to see a commercial for the Volcano Taco, and the drive-through posters merely displayed a large taco with some kind of colored shell. I was immediately reminded of the Big Taste Taco (a recent fourthmeal invention released with the new and improved value menus), which I found to be rather lackluster and somewhat of a gimmick. Thus, not entirely unwary, I placed my order, crossing my fingers that this wouldn’t end up being just another Bacon Club Chalupa.

My first impression upon unwrapping the Volcano Taco: it looks exactly like a regular “crunchy” taco, except it's fucking red. I knew there had to be more to the picture, however, so I fervently took my first bite. As I masticated that first mouthful, I still detected nothing setting it apart from a standard taco. But then I examined the taco’s innards. The bite I’d taking allowed me to view a vivisection of sorts, all the layers of ingredients laid bare.

All of the typical makings were present: shredded cheddar cheese on top of shredded lettuce and about a half-inch of Taco Bell’s famous seasoned beef. At this point I was sure I’d been had, until I noticed something else. Just above the beef, there appeared to be some sort of cheese sauce which had been hidden too deeply inside the taco to be included in my first sampling. Knowing this must be the secret of the Volcano Taco, its one defining characteristic, I took another bite.

The cheese sauce, or “cheesy lava sauce” as it is referred to on the restaurant’s web site, was very similar to the standard nacho cheese sauce featured in other menu items, but with a little bit of a spicy kick at the finish. Hardly comparable to sensation of putting a tablespoon of actual molten rock on my tongue, but still enough to add a bold and zesty twist.

I applaud Taco Bell for continuing to at least attempt to innovate the fast food industry. In an unstable economic climate where the trend has been rising prices and shrinking portion sizes, Taco Bell has flown in the face of convention by introducing bigger and better things at an absurdly low cost to the diner.

That being said, the Volcano Taco does not have a whole lot to offer in the way of innovation. Although not quite a gimmick, it’s certainly one of the more novel additions to the Taco Bell menu. It’s an interesting new take on the tried and true crunchy taco, and at just $.89*, there’s really no reason not to try it.

The new Volcano Taco is also currently available as part of the promotional “Big Bell Box Meal”, which includes the taco, a burrito supreme, a crunchwrap supreme, cinnamon twists, and a large drink (Baja Blast of course being the only choice for serious fourthmealers). My local Taco Bell prices this deal at $4.99, but this may vary from location to location.

* Prices may vary by location. They cost $.99 in Ferndale. -Nate


Amber said...

i was originally worried that the volcano taco was going to give me cancer due to its red shell. because how does one make anything red? by adding cancer to it - of course. however, i risked certain death and tried this masterpiece. if the rumors are true, and this taco is made of delicious cancer, then i welcome you, life-threatening disease, with open arms. the sauce must be glorious nacho cheese + fire sauce with a dash of heaven. good review guest blogger and good move, T-Bell.

Unknown said...

amazingly good and long review on such a seemingly small item.