Fast Times

New Taco Bell Smothered Chicken Burrito (Okay, and a Fiery Doritos Taco Loco)

At the intersection of "hung over" and "empty fridge," we recently took a hard right-hand turn into Taco Bell. It seems like there are different kinds of hangovers: McDonald's hangovers, Taco Bell hangovers, plain-pasta-all-day hangovers, and so on. A Taco Bell hangover is the "creeper." You wake up feeling better than you thought you might, you get through your first cup of coffee without incident and then, BOOM! You hit a wall, and the next thing you need to encounter is a drive-through serving the fastest (if not the most Mexican-est) food possible.

A creeper hangover needs smothering -- in cheese, in salt, in carbohydrates -- so what better item to order than the New! Smothered Chicken Burrito? Shredded chicken, "premium Latin rice," beans and creamy chipotle sauce all buried beneath "red sauce," melted cheese and sour cream. And just to make sure we swept out every corner of the hangover, we also ordered a Fiery Doritos Taco Loco. For dessert!

The burrito is total fast-food comfort food -- it's very warm, and very gooey from the cheeses and the sauce that work to disintegrate an already-soft flour tortilla. The Smothered Chicken Burrito is absolutely HUGE, and comes in at a somewhat reasonable 650 calories (28 grams fat, 34 grams protein, 2230 mg sodium). There are a lot of soft textures here, and there is really no "bite" to anything, but the total effect is more "comfort food" than "retirement home entrée." A generous application of hot sauce made the burrito more interesting. The chicken gets a little lost among the rice and beans, so the steak or ground beef options may be more successful in asserting their flavors.

The Fiery Doritos Taco Loco was the perfect dessert, and a real counterpoint to the burrito. Crispy, crunchy, tangy, spicy, salty and with just a little hint of freshness from the lettuce and tomato, the taco was a delightful, 200-calorie way to end the meal. We experimented with crumbling some Fiery Taco Loco shell on top of the last few bites of our burrito, and we loved the way the crunch and the heat improved the texture and flavor. It will take another run through the drive-through, but it's possible that combining these two could result in a single, perfect, hangover-vanquishing dish (with some assembly required).

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Christina Uticone