We Eat It So You Don't Have To: Del Taco's Turkey Tacos

I really don't like turkey, but I have a big soft spot for Del Taco, so when a box full of green and red feathers arrived at our office announcing the debut of some new ground turkey tacos, I didn't really know how to feel.

I was confused and conflicted, torn between my love for a fast food restaurant that — by all standards — is much better than it needs to be and my hatred for one of the worst proteins in existence.

Why would Del Taco do this to us? Is turkey meat cheap right now? Does Del Taco want to cut food costs without going the way of Jack in the Box and using soy protein? Are they really, really trying to be healthier?

All I knew that, as hesitant as I was, I'd have to try the turkey tacos, if only for you guys.


The tacos are meh, just slightly worse than their beef brethren.

It's a boring answer, I know, but when you're buying $1.29 tacos from a fast food chain, meh is all you're going to be getting.

From what I can tell, the turkey tacos are just the standard Del Taco skeleton — tortilla or taco shell, grated lettuce and cheese, some pico de gallo — around a new protein, which isn't a bad thing per se. I'm not even convinced that you'd notice the turkey if someone just handed you a taco on the street and didn't tell you what it was (Note: Please don't eat random stranger tacos.).

If you want to get down to the nitty gritty of it, that's the biggest problem with the tacos — they're kind of gritty. It's most obvious with the hard shell taco, but even the soft taco has a kind of unpleasant, unexpected granularity to the meat. Not something that you notice with beef (or soy protein for that matter).

There's also an issue with saltiness. I expect Del Taco to perfect its ratios once the turkey's been available for a little longer, but the two-and-a-half tacos I had were unexpectedly salty, despite being seasoned basically the same as the chain's ground beef. There's just the tiniest bit of turkey flavor, but you'll only find it if you're scrutinizing (And it's only nice if you're into that kind of thing).

Finally, the reasoning. The turkey tacos (and burritos and tortas) are part of Del Taco's healthier menu push (Turkey options have around 30 percent lower fat than beef). It's not a bad marketing move, especially to grab the people who are still trying to keep up their New Year's resolutions, but come on. If you're eating cheapy cheap fast food tacos, it's not because you're trying to be healthy. Why ruin the experience?

Now back to my Double Del Burgers and macho-sized fries..

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You can also follow Charles Lam on Twitter @charlesnlam. He's less sardonic there, we swear.

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