A customer stood in front of the Taco Bell counter at 8 a.m. Her head craned upward at the fast food chain’s newly introduced breakfast menu. She hesitated before placing the order.
“I wanted to try more,” Jamie Jacobs, South Bend-area resident, said as she held her receipt. “This is my first time here for breakfast and it all looks pretty good.”
On Taco Bell’s new menu, breakfast standards (bacon, sausage, eggs and hash browns) find their way into flour tortillas, flat breads, and even waffles.
The waffle taco is an intriguing combination of breakfast meat (sausage or bacon), scrambled egg and cheese nestled into a waffle-type shell.
The waffle itself is nothing to marvel at. Its density creates a chewiness that has less appeal than a freezer waffle. While its novelty suggests a prepackaged sandwich from a gas station, the sloppy presentation—splayed half-open inside a long corrugated clamshell—allows the insides to cool rapidly and fails to impress.
The sausage, a common option on most of the menu items, is mildly spicy but adds an unexpected kick that might help start the day, or give you heartburn.
The bacon is crumbly, really crumbly. It’s best described as minced and added to any menu item can create a frustrating, messy situation (think: greasy bacon on your lap).
It seems that scrambled eggs are the one element hardest to get right. They’re easily overcooked and merely getting cold can lend the eggs qualities of foam rubber.
Really, a crapshoot.
The A.M. Crunchwrap is one of the more elaborate menu items. It is layered with a hash brown patty (the crunch), a choice of meat (including steak), scrambled eggs, cheese and sauce fully enclosed within a large tortilla folded over and grilled to create a flying saucer shape.
The grilling of the Crunchwrap’s tortilla not only adds a toasted flavor, but gives more crunch to the Crunchwrap.
Nevertheless, the sauce is of the type that dresses the regular menu quesadilla and is overly rich when applied heavily, which can make the sandwich off-putting, especially for those who look for simplicity in their breakfast.
For a simple meal, the flatbread is a good choice—sausage, melted cheese, and flatbread.
The steak option costs a little extra but is worth the few cents. The tender, firm texture is more satisfying than the bacon-dust and seems to be leaner than the sausage.
Dining on a budget is easy, too. Along with the larger sandwiches Taco Bell introduced a dollar menu.
“The Cinnabon Delights are great. They really are,” Jacobs said after the meal was over.
Two bite-size Cinnabon-brand fried pastries are offered on the dollar menu and as a side with the purchase of a combo. The delicate, crisp surface of the round doughnuts are dusted with cinnamon and sugar. The warm gooey frosting is extraordinarily sweet, which, nevertheless, contrasts well with the saltiness of everything else.
Jacobs, though enamored with the pastries, was not as impressed with the other things she had ordered.
“It was all really cheesy. I like cheese, but it was too much,” Jacobs said. “I ate every bite, though. So, it couldn’t have been too bad.”
Coffee, coffee, coffee. What is breakfast without the bean? While aficionados might balk at the middle-of-the-road coffee, as a whole it works for a quick breakfast at Taco Bell. Simply put, the brew is unchallenging, yet un-offensive.
Taco Bell’s late entry into the fast food breakfast business is one that could very well rival its competitors. The unique interpretation of morning cuisine differentiates itself from pack while holding true to Taco Bell’s business model—fast, in a tortilla and covered in cheese and sauce.