Everyone, and I mean everyone, wants to be part of the chicken sandwich war. Even those better known for their burritos and tacos, want a part of this action; case in point, Taco Bell and their latest update to their changing menu. After an apparently very successful limited test back in February – Taco Bell have now rolled out their Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos to locations nationwide.
The unusual menu addition completed it’s roll out as of the start of September 2021 and, yep, you guessed it – I had to try a few out as quickly as possible. Because, well, science right.
Initial impressions weren’t mind blowing. The tacos were thrown together in a basic bag, in various states of impromptu wrapping covered in sauce. The visual appeal was of a sloppily thrown together item. Onto the unwrapping then…
Is this a taco? Is a sandwich? Well, frankly, it’s neither. Taco Bell’s latest creation is really a mini pita bread, wrapping a fairly regular chicken tender. It throws caution to the notion that a chicken sandwich, needs to be, well a sandwich. Gone are the mayo and pickles that decorate so many fried chicken sandwiches, here you’ll find chipotle mayo – and optionally pickled jalapeños on the Spicy branded version.
I have to admit I thought I was going to hate these. The concept is a relatively wacky one and out of line with the regular Taco Bell menu – what could go right? Well, quite a lot actually. The pita bread wraps are soft and doughy. They’re comfortingly dense and not overtly sweet like so many fast food burger buns. For once it’s a pleasure to not have to work through yet another brioche bun. The self styled “puffy flatbread” is the perfect size to snugly enshroud the chicken inside. The chipotle mayo does what it says on the tin, it’s creamy with a modest amount of smoky heat. Of the two versions, I preferred the mildly spicy bite and acidic zip of the jalapeño laced Spicy version. It adds that extra dash of interest to the dish.
The chicken itself is a decent enough chicken tender. It’s not processed completely to reformed and rubberized oblivion. It noticeably tears and shreds and has a very, ‘one more bite’ quality to it, though it is slightly mealy. While it doesn’t ever muster more praise than, “sure thats an ok tender I guess”, it definitely beats out Del Taco’s listless crispy chicken release from last year.
The tacos however are salt bombs which likely goes some way to explaining their moreishness. The regular and spicy versions manage 650mg and 710mg of sodium respectively. While those who live in fast food land should be no strangers of salt, for their relatively modest size these tacos can add up. I knocked back two with ease – they’re no more than three to four bites in size. I could have happily devoured another two but probably shouldn’t. Four of the spicy tacos come close to a heart palpitating 3000mg of salt.
For their part Taco Bell recognize those levels are high and they don’t shy away from them. Check out their online menu, where the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco Box option is labelled with a “Sodium Warning” flag; that means the menu item packs in more than a whole days worth of sodium – 2300mg per day.
The ala carte pricing is solid enough at $1.49 per crispy taco. It’s low enough to suggest you could and should order these by the fistful, and while I wouldn’t say don’t try one, do keep an eye on the salt if you decide on more.
Overall, it’s an interesting but flawed addition. In the safe and homogenized world of US fast food however, it’s quite the oddball creation and you have to at least give Taco Bell some credit for the curveball effort.
Hi, I’m Stuart, nice to meet you! I’m the founder, writer and wrangler at Gastronomic Salt Lake City, and a former freelance restaurant critic. I’ve worked extensively with local, regional and national food and drink organizations. I’m a multiple-award winning journalist and have been writing about food and drink for more than fifteen years. I’m largely fueled by a critical obsession with rice, alliteration and the use of big words I don’t understand. I don’t mind admitting to a certain secret obsession with fast food as well – and that’s where Menu And Price comes in…