Amalgamating the flimsy glory of the quesadilla and the hearty fortitude of the burrito, Taco Bell launched its latest hybrid item today. Behold the Quesarito.
The Quesarito arrives for no particular reason at all. There wasn't a massive launch or an intense marketing campaign, simply an idea that takes little goading for the mind of the American consumer to get behind. Think a joining of unlikely friends.
Here are the specs:
Don't forget that there is rice and low-fat (ha!) sour cream involved to create volume and a binding.
Now, the Quesarito is hardly a new idea. It's actually the acknowledged version of a secret menu item from Taco Bell's arch-foe Chipotle. It even shares the same name.
If Chipotle will only keep it on its secret menu, Taco Bell will capitalize. The Quesarito: http://t.co/8RSJhtwZAc— Tal Kopan (@TalKopan) June 9, 2014
According to Businessweek, Taco Bell offered a version of this item in the past. But that was in the darker days, certainly not during the heady triumph of the Doritos Locos era.
I ordered one of each of the three new Quesaritos — steak ($3.29), shredded chicken ($2.99), and beef ($2.29) — and brought them back to a skeptical Wire office.
(Note: Prices are slightly higher at the Taco Bell in Manhattan's Union Square.)
And though some of us had just eaten a ton of Indian food left over from the fantastic launch of Quartz India, a few of my peers obliged.
Here's how each Quesarito stacked up:
Though delicious, the steak in the Quesarito doesn't quite assimilate. It resembled the way any kind of protein stands out in a salad; whether you mean to or not, you cannot help but aimlessly guide your fork (or in this case, your maw) in the direction of the steak. You know that it's more gratifying. And, in this case, you'd be right.
My colleagues quickly mentioned that the Steak Quesarito was surprisingly spicy, neither a common trait of the Taco Bell burrito or the quesadilla. That wasn't a bad thing though.
I am not ordinarily a shredded chicken fan. There seems to be something defeatist and diffident about meat that means to hide itself in a mélange. However, within the confines of the Quesarito, the chicken offers unanticipated unity of taste and texture. It's reassuring, especially if one fears hand-held comestibles that groan with asymmetry.
It also seems obvious, at least to me, that chicken options went through the test kitchen enough times to determine that shredded chicken made more sense (taste and texture-wise) than its more prevalent grilled companion.
My Wire colleague Lucy Westcott, who hails from a country from which Taco Bell was chased, noted that it was obviously good. She added (as a positive) that it "tastes slightly like something you'd get at a outdoor music festival."
With rival Chipotle dead in the middle of its three-city outdoor musical festival season, this will be a welcome sentiment at Taco Bell HQ in Irvine, California.
Were this fish, the Beef Quesarito would be like a salmon returning to its home. After all, it's the beef taco that put Taco Bell on the map. Before he introduced the taco to much of America, Taco Bell founder Glen Bell (that's right) rode the rails looking for work, served in the Pacific during World War II, and hauled adobe bricks out of an army surplus truck.
Taco Bell started as a Southern California roadside stand serving ground beef tacos for a young, hungry country on the move. There will be few innovations made in the Taco Bell orbit (breakfast notwithstanding) that doesn't involved the rib of Taco Bell's Adam. Ground. American. Beef.
In the Beef Quesarito there are no astonishments lurking. You already know what it tastes like. And that'll do.