Fast Times

Taco Bell Loaded Grillers Deliver Varying Degrees of Success

The only reason I was interested in checking out the new Taco Bell Loaded Grillers is because I find the commercial for them completely puzzling. In it, Taco Bell promises you will never have to share your appetizers again -- grrr! sharing! -- with their single-serve "loaded grillers" that deliver the taste of potato skins, beef nachos or spicy Buffalo chicken to starving, selfish appetizer-hoarders.

Isn't half the fun of appetizers like potato skins, nachos and Buffalo wings sharing them with your friends? Apparently not.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken

Taco Bell is two-thirds right here: There is chicken, and it is spicy. Unfortunately, "Buffalo" these are not. Whether the hot sauce flavor is obscured by the sour cream or it's just not there is hard to tell, but when I think "Buffalo," I think of that distinctive Frank's Hot Sauce flavor that came on every wing I ever ate between the ages of zero and 30 (and approximately 100 miles east of Buffalo, New York).

Also, the chicken was super-gristly. Gross.

Loaded Potato

Now we're talking! The potatoes tucked inside the flour tortilla are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. They are covered -- nay, smothered -- in hot nacho cheese sauce and bacon, and a bit of sour cream comes through here and there. I think a sprinkle of green onion would go a LONG way toward making these more like a true potato skin, but this Loaded Griller is far more accurately named than its predecessor from the great state of New York. Pick this if your default option is MORE CHEESE, PLEASE.

Beefy Nacho Griller

Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! The Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller is the strongest of the bunch -- dare I say it is perfect? If you put this in front of me without telling me what it was supposed to taste like, I feel confident that I would identify it as "nachos." The beef is perfectly seasoned -- not even too salty, but just right -- and mine had the perfect ratio of cheese-to-wrap-to-beef. The Web site says the little red things are "crispy red strips" but doesn't specify "strips of what," so I can only assume they are fried red tortillas -- at least that's what they tasted like. Taco Bell should stick to this stuff and leave the Buffalo flavors to our neighbors to the north.

A couple of notes: These are much larger than they look in the commercial. In fact, they don't look anything like they look in the commercial -- when I received my order, I actually thought the drive-thru had gotten it wrong. The Loaded Grillers are just a buck apiece, and are quite large; as long as you skip the chicken, it's one of the best fast-food values I've seen in a long time.

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Christina Uticone