Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Taco Bell 2005–2011


jhlurie
 Share

Recommended Posts

Ironically, Taco Bell is one of the few FF joints that I find passable in a pinch.

Taco Bell? Shudder.

Sorry. It's just that many of the worst food experiences I've ever had were at Taco Bells. Including 2 cases of food poisoning. And beans from a gun (or is it a hose?) scare me.

Is your evaluation that it's passable based on liking most of their menu items, an observation of consistent quality between locations, both, or something else entirely?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I kinda fear putting my toes in the pool here, but have never had a problem with Taco Bell, and it is the only fast food place I have been in for at least ten years.

(OK, OK, eight years or so ago we were in London and had an appointment shortly after lunch. All the pubs and restaurants were full, and there was a Burger King right across from the hotel, we were starving, and we caved. Enough full disclosure.)

About once a year or so we get a craving for Taco Bell and drop about $40 or so; it takes about a week for the two of us to go through it and that sates us for quite a while.

Mostly just buy the usual burritos and tacos, but always get a few of the new items. If it has cheese and beans I like it.

When I was younger went to Taco Bell all the time, and have never had a problem.

Perhaps some of their franchises have gone downhill, don't know.

As far as the rest of the fast food world, would rather eat at home or go to a real sit down restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worked at Taco Bell when I was 16, and it wasn't really bad at all. It was a little lower tech back then. There were no computers in the restaurant, and I wrote the orders on a blackboard over my head, so that cooks behind me could construct the burritos and tacos as ordered, and I had to memorize all the prices so that I could add them up on an old fashioned cash register.

Anyway, our food prep back then was a lot simpler, too. When we made the refried beans, we started with whole, dried beans and cooked them for hours until they were soft enough to puree. I guess they have a different process now, but the recipe for their beans must be really different, too, because back then a pot of beans called for 2 great big sticks of lard. Nowadays, they really wouldn't be able to do it, because of vegetarians and people who are scared of pork fat.

But I guess I don't have a really bad opinion of Taco Bell. Some of the food is kind of tasty, even, though it is all pretty simple.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Anyway, our food prep back then was a lot simpler, too. When we made the refried beans, we started with whole, dried beans and cooked them for hours until they were soft enough to puree. I guess they have a different process now, but the recipe for their beans must be really different, too, because back then a pot of beans called for 2 great big sticks of lard. Nowadays, they really wouldn't be able to do it, because of vegetarians and people who are scared of pork fat.

I've actually cleared things up a bit with google and found an interesting Taco Bell testimonial. This page has a lot of info.

Among other things, it claims:

  • The whole bit about guns are caulking guns, and that's for the sour cream and guacamole, not beans.
  • The beans apparent come as a dried powder and are reconstituted.
  • Ditto for most of the sauces.
  • Meat and nacho cheese come in pre-portioned boil-in-bags.
  • Lettuce arrived at the store pre-shredded
  • Tomatoes were peeled and sliced on-site.

Mind you, this one person was talking about when they were 16, and they don't say how old they are now.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've actually cleared things up a bit with google and found an interesting Taco Bell testimonial.  This page has a lot of info.

Among other things, it claims:

  • The whole bit about guns are caulking guns, and that's for the sour cream and guacamole, not beans. 
  • The beans apparent come as a dried powder and are reconstituted. 
  • Ditto for most of the sauces.
  • Meat and nacho cheese come in pre-portioned boil-in-bags.
  • Lettuce arrived at the store pre-shredded
  • Tomatoes were peeled and sliced on-site.

Mind you, this one person was talking about when they were 16, and they don't say how old they are now.

Interesting details, and as I'd figured, they certainly did change their bean procedure. I was surprised that it's a powder, and not a canned bean product, but I'm sure they did analyses to determine what would be most cost effective, and produce the best tasting product, within reason.

When we used to make the beans, and this was 21 years ago, I thought the weirdest thing about it was that, after cooking the pot of beans, we'd whip them with a rotary beater attached to the end of a power drill. "Drilling" the beans was actually really tiresome, so employees bigger and older than I usually did that.

Both beans and meat were cooked in huge pans, meant to hold 40 pounds of product, each. For the beans, this was the second "frying," and for the hamburger, raw meat was cooked with the seasoning this way, and we used large rakes that looked like oversized potato mashers.

We did chop tomatoes with a wall slicer, and there were grates of different sizes for onions and tomatoes. Cheese was shredded in house, and we fried all the taco and taco salad shells, the pizza shells, and they had a fried flour taco shell at that time, too. They usually didn't make me do fryer detail, as they made male employees do it instead. I'm not sure why, because other fast food chains didn't distinguish between whether it was a male or female working the fryer.

Nacho cheese and guacamole came in cans. I'm not keen on the canned guacamole, and I don't think many other folks were at that time. We didn't put the guac in guns, because I don't think we sold that much of it, but we went through 8 or 9 cartridges of sour cream on a shift.

That pretty much covers everything that I know about the Bell. I have absolutely no idea why I wrote this, by the way, as I'm sure no one could possibly find it interesting. :wacko:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have absolutely no idea why I wrote this, by the way, as I'm sure no one could possibly find it interesting.  :wacko:

don't be so sure about that, Food Tutor ... I, for one, find it quite interesting! Thanks! :biggrin:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Food Tutor, when you worked there did people call up wanting to have a phone put in? I knew a guy who moved to New Mexico and honestly made that mistake.

Oh, now that's funny. :laugh:

I never heard that one, but I guess we did see some strange customers from time to time. I lived in Ohio, which is where I was raised, and we used to charge sales tax only on food eaten in the restaurant. Sometimes, people would order food "to go," and then sit in the dining room and eat it out of the bag, to avoid paying the sales tax. Doesn't that sound strange?

And I remember the lard was in one pound sticks, and I think it was 2 pounds of lard per every 40 pounds of beans. And it seemed like we used a healthy dose of salt for the beans as well, but no other seasonings that I remember. They tasted pretty good, though.

And we served the "BellBeefer" when I was there - basically a sloppy joe sort of thing. Doesn't BellBeefer sound like a derogatory name for an overweight person? Maybe that's why they don't serve it anymore. :hmmm:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting details, and as I'd figured, they certainly did change their bean procedure. I was surprised that it's a powder, and not a canned bean product, but I'm sure they did analyses to determine what would be most cost effective, and produce the best tasting product, within reason.

When we used to make the beans, and this was 21 years ago...

And one has to assume that things have changed (probably to become even more automated, cost effective, idiot-proof, and leaning towards off-site preparation), since the person who reported that information worked at Taco Bell. The general tone of the post sounds a bit older, and the person says the info was from when they were 16. Plus, on top of that, the post I linked to (here it is again) was from 2001.

The worst Taco Bells that I've seen, by the way, seem to be the ones which are combined with other chains into one location (most often KFC, from what I've seen). Those places don't do ANY of the food well.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I worked in a Taco Bell for about 6 months, the "drunk shift" (5pm-3am). We were one of the few places open after the bars would close in town, and the Taco Bell also was on the way from downtown back to campus.

The bad: because of residential neighbors, our drive-thru closed at midnight and it was the dining room we had to keep open until close. Yeesh.

The good: it was a "manager training" location, meaning those moving their way up the chain would get temporarily moved to our store and hone their Taco skills. What this meant is that every food safety practice was followed to the letter. Time consuming, yes, but getting food poisoning was a near impossibility.

The rest: it wasn't bad. I would still eat there (though I don't just out of lack of time due to going to more interesting restaurants). I have always had a soft spot for the cutely named Chilito (chili cheese burrito) and the meximelts. When they had fajitas I liked those, and the bean burritos and quesadillas are not bad. The guilty pleasure menu item for me was mexican pizza. VERY greasy. I used to like the 7 layer burrito but I doubt I would anymore. I worked pre-gordita and chalupa. The fanciest item were the double-decker tacos.

Our beans were dehydrated, the meats in bags, and yes we had the caulking guns. When I started the transition was underway to stop chopping lettuce and tomatoes by hand and instead get them all pre-prepped.

The cinnamon twist things look like rotini pasta before they are fried. In fact, they probably are rotini pasta. :blink:

Not a horrific place overall, you could certainly do worse things to your GI tract.

Andrea

http://tenacity.net

"You can't taste the beauty and energy of the Earth in a Twinkie." - Astrid Alauda

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Food Lovers' Guide to Santa Fe, Albuquerque & Taos: OMG I wrote a book. Woo!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ironically, Taco Bell is one of the few FF joints that I find passable in a pinch.

Taco Bell? Shudder.

Sorry. It's just that many of the worst food experiences I've ever had were at Taco Bells. Including 2 cases of food poisoning. And beans from a gun (or is it a hose?) scare me.

Is your evaluation that it's passable based on liking most of their menu items, an observation of consistent quality between locations, both, or something else entirely?

Now I'm not a big fan of any fast food joint even though my first job 30 years ago was at a Burger King in Brooklyn (at the time the busiest in the country). Nevertheless Taco Bell is passsable, because I don't find the product to be particularly offensive. I have never been sick from it. While I would never choose it over a decent Mexican Restaurant, I would choose it over almost any other fast food joint if fast food was my only option.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The worst Taco Bells that I've seen, by the way, seem to be the ones which are combined with other chains into one location (most often KFC, from what I've seen).  Those places don't do ANY of the food well.

I have noticed that. I think I was in a Taco Bell/KFC combo about 7 years ago, and I tried to order a chicken soft taco, and they said that they didn't have any chicken.

Umm. No chicken? Well, OK, then. I mean, I know that the Taco Bell product is different from the KFC product, but I also understand that, to the average consumer, that doesn't make sense.

I think it's probably best if fast food establishments just try to do one thing correctly, if they can do that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My first job was at a Taco Bell in '93. I think they lost something when the Cinnamon Crispas went from triangles to twists. Though some locations do sell the Choco Taco for dessert. Ummmmm!

Edited by afn33282 (log)
Frau Farbissma: "It's a television commercial! With this cartoon leprechaun! And all of these children are trying to chase him...Hey leprechaun! Leprechaun! We want to get your lucky charms! Haha! Oh, and there's all these little tiny bits of marshmallow just stuck right in the cereal so that when the kids eat them, they think, 'Oh this is candy! I'm having fun!'"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

About once a year or so we get a craving for Taco Bell and drop about $40 or so; it takes about a week for the two of us to go through it and that sates us for quite a while.

I'm totally taken aback by that statement. How does it keep that long? Even in the fridge?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taco Bell is a guilty pleasure of mine, several times a year. I generally only do fast food when on the road, but then Taco Bell is what I look for.

Does anyone else remember (and crave) the Chicken Club Burrito? Chicken "breast" meat, bacon (!), sour cream, guacamole, and I forget what else. It was basically a gut-buster wrap before wraps became big.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taco Bell is horrifying food. The chain FAILED in SF. They could not compete with the many great burrito and taco places. Tacos and burritos are NOT made with ground meat. Salsas are so good and so important to Mexican food- they don't exist at Taco Bell. I ate there once- and even as a child , I could not eat ground mystery meat in a raw flour tortilla.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taco Bell is horrifying food. The chain FAILED in SF. They could not compete with the many great burrito and taco places. Tacos and burritos are NOT made with ground meat. Salsas are so good and so important to  Mexican food- they don't exist at Taco Bell. I ate there once- and even as a child , I could not eat ground mystery meat in a raw flour tortilla.

It should fail in a place like San Francisco and many other places in this country as well! Unfortunately, not every place is fortunate enough to have even decent Mexican restaurants. That is certainly one of the culinary weaknesses of where I live. While I do not find the food horrofying, instead reasonably palatable, I would be very happy indeed, if the chain failed everywhere for the reason you mentioned.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it's my understanding that it's very difficult to prove claims of food poisoning. my general rule is to not throw speculation like that around because it can hurt a restaurant and perhaps for no good reason.

that said, i've eaten at taco bell perhaps 100 times. it doesn't always "agree" with me, but i do like it every now and again. but only the hard tacos. supremes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was one of my few cravings while pregnant. Crunchy taco supreme and a bean & cheese burrito, hold the onions.

Taco Bell was just about the only fast food I ate growing up in California (other than McDonalds when they still fried their own burgers). I was surprised to learn they were not a national chain when we moved East in 1980.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, too, like Taco Bell. There are only a handful of fast food places (McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, and Taco Bell) where I live. It's a nice alternative to the burger bit.

In my experience, the best TB around here (there are only 2) shares its space with KFC. It is always clean and the food from both are far superior than the food at the stand alone TB in another area.

Having said that, I lived a number of years in Texas (Austin and Houston) and would LOVE to be able to indulge in the Mexican fare I enjoyed down there.

Fat chance of that in central MA.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Taco Bell is horrifying food. The chain FAILED in SF. They could not compete with the many great burrito and taco places. Tacos and burritos are NOT made with ground meat. Salsas are so good and so important to  Mexican food- they don't exist at Taco Bell. I ate there once- and even as a child , I could not eat ground mystery meat in a raw flour tortilla.

Failed? Taco Bell is all over the place in San Francisco and they are busy. I had a couple of tacos at one on Market St. just the other day. I count nine locations in the Yahoo Yellow Pages.

San Francisco has strict zoning ordinances that prevent chain restaurants and fast-food places from freely opening throughout the city. When they do open, they compete quite successfully with the local businesses.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I, too, love Taco Bell. My kids hate it, so I get it when I'm alone. I live in an area that has fantastic Mexican food, but Taco Bell is its own category! I never think of it as Mexican, that would be silly!

As for the way the food is prepared, I was watching Dateline or 60 Minutes a few months back and Taco Bell has the fewest health code violations of any of the major fast food chains, due to the fact that everything is prepped at a main site and just heated at the restaurant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...