Taco Bell's Crispy Chicken is a Fast Food Revolución
Photo by Ryan Cady
By now, dear fans, I'm sure you've read my glowing review of Taco Bell's new Biscuit Taco breakfast items, and, trusting my dietary expertise, you've bought at least 4 of them. But what you probably don't know is the story behind the story, and the Grand Crispy Chicken Prophecy that emerged from my breakfast adventure.
When I heard that Taco Bell was bringing in Crispy Chicken for one of their breakfast tacos, I knew it was only a matter of time before the delicious, golden-fried goodness invaded other aspects of their menu. When I drove through Taco Bell at 7 a.m. on the morning of Thursday, March 26, I saw no promotional material for the new breakfast items, but my faith was rewarded. I chowed down on my Crispy Chicken Biscuit and wrote another culinary epic, I remarked to my editor - "You know, this changes everything. The Crispy Chicken Revolución has arrived."
I posited an imminent utopia, a Golden Age of Taco Bell where every dish had the option for deep-fried poultry goodness, and I prayed that such a future would come within my lifetime. After all, this is the world of Chicken Fries and Double Downs...why shouldn't we have chicken strip burritos? I didn't pass by another Taco Bell until 3 days later, in which I discovered that, somehow, within this limited field, I was capable of predicting the future. For in the same increment of time it took our Lord Jesus Christ to rise from the dead, Taco Bell too had fashioned a miracle, though perhaps a far less holy one.
Crispy Chicken had come to the Bell, and, dear friends, within a week, I had taste tested every single Crispy Chicken item on the menu.
Now, I'm certain a number of you have questions - How do I eat like this without dying? Is there anything I won't eat? Why on earth would I subject myself to such base indignities? The answers are thus: I have no such petty concerns. I live for the feast. If that makes me a grotesque shell of a man, so be it, but at least I have tasted of the crispy gilded nectar of the Taco Bell gods, and found it beyond compare.
Now this is the winner
Photo by Ryan Cady
Heading up Taco Bell's new poultry pantheon are the Crispy Chicken Grillers, which, let's call a spade a spade, is just a chicken strip in tortilla. Granted, that still sounds delicious, so of course I gobbled all of them. My favorites were the Spicy Ranch, which offsets the savory warmth with some zest, and the Mango BBQ, which brings a unique smoky tang to the Taco Bell family. The other two flavors are the Chipotle, which is weakly spicy and lacking in the creamy department, and Jalapeno Honey, which, oh honey, let's just stick with breakfast, okay? Honey plus tortilla makes for a wholly strange, albeit not altogether unpleasant, combination. Now, granted, I love these Grillers, but come on, Taco Bell - just a chicken strip and sauce? No cheese, or lettuce, or some kinda garnish? I guess they've just accepted that their target audience is the manchild, and we manchildren really don't care for vegetables.
The latest abomination to the Taco Bell family is the "Chickstar," and yes, that is possibly the worst item name in fast food history. The Chickstar is the uninspired cousin to the Crunchwrap - several chicken strips laid to rest beneath a blanket of cheese, lettuce, and tomato, garnished with either the impeccable Mango BBQ sauce, the all-time favorite Bacon and Ranch Combo, or the utterly blasé Chipotle dressing. While the Chickstar looks weird, sounds weird, and is assuredly overpriced, if you grab the Mango BBQ, it's a serious improvement over the classic Crunchwrap in terms of flavor diversity. If, like me, you love the taste of smooth, creamy ranch dressing, feel free to grab the Bacon Ranch Chickstar - just don't expect it to change your life. In our Crispy Chicken Revolution, the Chickstar is Leon Trotsky - it sounds groundbreaking and really tries to sell itself, but ultimately it will be overthrown by superior menu items and eventually assassinated while trying to hide out in Mexico.
No, in this beautiful deep-fried ballet, the real MVP of Taco Bell's new dishes is the Double Crispy Chicken Quesadilla. Mounds of evenly chopped, perfectly fried white meat chicken nestled among gobs of perfectly melted cheese, bathed in the Bell's signature Creamy Jalapeno sauce, all resting on warm pillows of flour tortillas, this blasphemous polymerization of two cultures triumphantly displays the sheer genius of Southern California cuisine. It's the culinary equivalent of people who are attractive enough to walk around Downtown Huntington Beach in bikinis or boardshorts and still get served in the bars away from the shore - douchey and offensive, sure, but you're not gonna say no to it.
Because ultimately, good food is all about id, hindbrain pleasure. If two things taste good together, you should eat them; maybe not everyday, but within reason. Are chefs the world over grinding their teeth at the notion of chicken strips carelessly shoved into tortillas served alongside Starburst-flavored slushies?
Sure, but let's be honest, if it tastes good, who gives a shit what they think?
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