These things went into my belly on Saturday night: apple cider bourbon toddies topped with whiskey whipped cream. Mulled wine. Absinthe. Old Fashioneds. Delerium Tremens. And, the kicker: Evan Williams pre-mixed egg nog in a bottle. Holiday party, you know?
"Merry Christmas!" was not the first thing on my mind Sunday morning. Not by a long shot. It took two episodes of Battlestar Galactica, a couple gallons of ice water and a raid of the Man O' The Hour's medicine cabinet before my head stopped being on fire long enough to even talk about the possibility of brunch. Even then, the thought of sitting up at a table was kind of exhausting. I couldn't think of any restaurant -- on top of the fact that I couldn't think, period -- where the servers lay you down in a big, fluffy bed and spoon-feed you Bloody Marys and chorizo.
So we went to Taco Bell, because that was the closest thing I could think of to that imaginary bed-and-chorizo restaurant and the least embarrassing place I could think to be in case I had to vomit in public because honestly, the people at Taco Bell are probably like, "Wow, somebody vomiting, alert the press, NOT." I said to the Man O' The Hour, won't it be funny for me to write about Taco Bell as if it were a real restaurant serving real food? And he said yes, that would be funny. We're about to find out if that's true.
The closest Taco Bell to us is the one over on Washington Street by the Clusterfuck Target, and we pulled into the drive-through just after noon to find no line at all -- a welcome blessing to my stomach, which had not taken well to the pot hole-ridden route between the Bell and Deep Ellum. Actually, we almost didn't pull into the drive through because the Man O' The Hour almost missed the turn and didn't hear me croaking "Hey, hey, hey, hey! Hey! Hey!" from the passenger seat because I couldn't find my words. Unlike me, MOTH isn't real familiar with the best way to get to Taco Bell. But he loves me despite this, and we make beautiful music together, and that's not even a fart joke.
Anyway, we ordered some tacos.
I have a pretty standard hangover order, which is a Beef Baja Gordita (the finest of all the gorditas) and, off the value menu, a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito and a Chicken Burrito. Once we got back home and settled on the couch for some more BSG, I kicked things off with the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito because it's the most filling and alcohol-soaking. The five layers are: beans, cheese, reduced-fat (!) sour cream, beef and tortilla. And yes, I've always considered it a bit of a cop-out on Taco Bell's part to count the tortilla as a fifth layer.
Yesterday's burrito was lazily prepared, with a big glom of beans and cheese-goo at one end of the wrap, so that you just got mouthfuls of beef and tortilla at the beginning, then a sour cream shot, and then the beany bit. I didn't finish it and moved immediately on to my Beef Baja Gordita, which is my absolute favorite thing to eat at Taco Bell. Baja sauce is a true culinary innovation, and it was evenly distributed across my grainy meat and gummy shell, bringing out the fresh flavors of diced tomato and cool lettuce. Perfection.
While I was putting away my burrito and gordita, the MOTH worked on his own order: a Double Decker Taco, a Beef Chalupa, and a Beef Baja Gordita on my recommendation. MOTH loves him a Double Decker Taco, which is two tacos sandwiched together and held fast with a layer of beans. "They can keep dreaming up new menu items," he told me later, "but Taco Bell will never top the day they invented the Double-Decker Taco." And then, high praise indeed: "maybe the best new food invented since the Hot Pocket." He wished his chalupa had come in a dozen-item party pack, but even at Taco Bell, we can't always get what we want.
At this point, I thought I might yarf (clearly this feeling was in no way related to the fact that I'd just crammed down a couple pounds of Taco Bell) so I crawled back in bed and took a nap and watched another episode of BSG before moving on to my Chicken Burrito. MOTH, ever the gentleman, held off on eating his final chalupa as well, so that we could enjoy our third courses together. Beautiful, beautiful music, I tell you.
Refreshed, I tore into that Chicken Burrito, which is garnished with a kind of creamy avocado sauce atop the spicy rice and chicken, prepping each bite with a dollop of Mild Sauce. Inspired by my gastronomical resurgence, the MOTH gamely downed his gordita and pronounced it just as tasty as I'd promised.
Generally speaking, the presentation was lacking. Some items were packaged more soundly than others, which left a pile of stray diced tomatoes and lettuce in our rather wilted plastic sack. Each burrito/gordita/chalupa came wrapped in a paper snuggie, some of which were soggier than others, which was unappetizing until we managed to get them away from the snugs and on to a large service platter from which we fed.
And sadly, in addition to the the 5-Layer debacle, Taco Bell faltered in providing the number and variety of sauces we requested. Taco Bell has actually come out with two new sauces -- Verde and Fire Roasted -- and we asked specifically for a couple of each kind of sauce, including the old favorites Mild, Hot and Fire. We ended up with just a couple Mild and Hot packets, no Fire in sight, and certainly no new sauce adventures. I can understand getting a little stingy when the drive-through's packed, but really Taco Bell, don't hold back if you don't have to.
Our entire meal came out to just under $10, so you really can't beat the Bell for value, and the round trip couldn't have taken more than 20 minutes despite what felt like an eternal wait at the window. But I attribute that more to my own warped sense of time in relation to my diminished physical and emotional state than to the staff performance. Overall, Taco Bell succeeded in providing a tasty and satisfying meal at an excellent price, even if everything is basically made up of the same ingredients and tastes roughly the same-ish. Once they start serving Bloody Marys, they'll really be in business.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.