Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Taco Bell Breakfast Menu Part 1: The A.M. Crunchwrap, Waffle Taco and more!

A few months ago, word spread like wildfire among the internets when Taco Bell announced it would soon be serving breakfast. I checked our local TB and found out that they wouldn't be carrying breakfast until June- only test markets would have it until then. THE FURY! SORRY NEW HAMPSHIRE ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU, TACO BELL!

But luckily, I stay in Mass sometimes and the Bell near me had a nice shiny sign on their window advertising some badass breakfast. Truthfully, I've never been a breakfast guy- in fact, I probably eat breakfast 3 times a year. Even though I wake up at 7/730 every day for work, I don't even start to feel hungry until 11. I never want food in the morning. I also don't like waking up early on my days off. Yes, I'm an adult and should be getting up early and making the most of the day, but nope. It's my day off and I want to sleep in. 

I should also mention that I've probably eaten Taco Bell 4 times in my life. I've never really liked Mexican food and only in the last year realized how delicious burritos are if you get them without those damn beans (which is probably true of a lot of Mexican food). Plus, Taco Bell doesn't really have a reputation for great food. So here I was, taking on the duty of getting up early and force feeding myself Taco Bell. Would it be worth it???

Attempt 1 involved me getting up at 10:30, then realizing I never looked to see what time breakfast went until. Yup, it goes till 11. Ok, so let's try again! The next week, I got up at 10 and crawled my way out of the house. I looked awake and ready to go:

I was HORRIFIED at how many items there were. 

13 total new items!

I only knew about the AM Crunchwrap I'd seen advertised with those Ronald McDonald commercials. I figured they'd have a few other items, but 13 possibilities?? Daaaamn.

By the way, that commercial- seriously? There are that many asshole parents in the world who named their kid RONALD MCDONALD? Why would you ever do that to your child? Mcdonalds is like the 2nd most recognized brand in the world. EVERYONE knows who Ronald Mcdonald is. I feel sorry for those kids.

ANYWAY. I ordered a good chunk of the menu in an attempt to cover the most important stuff first, then realized I'd have to do this again. There was simply too much to get. 
So, now that I've gone to Taco Bell for breakfast 4 times, I've tried nearly everything, or at least what was most important (they have bacon and sausage versions of pretty much everything). So let's get to reviewing. 

First up, Taco Bell's first big breakfast creation: The A.M. CRUNCHWRAP:

very artistic fold

This thing had some weight to it and I didn't mind the size of it, but boy did these look a lot bigger in the commercials.

Hey Ronald, aren't you embarrassed by your tiny hands?

like a tiny-handed deer in headlights!

This thing was pretty much the size of my hand. Time to bite in.

I went with sausage, as I find fast food places rarely get bacon right, and I think sausage works better in stuff like this. So, an AM Crunchwrap is a hash brown, sausage (or bacon), scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and a creamy jalapeno sauce (the one Taco Bell uses in other stuff) all stacked nicely inside this artfully constructed tortilla case.

And it was actually very awesome. The eggs were pretty tasteless (let's be fair- they always are- people just use them to put sauce or cheese on), but the sausage was the good patty kind and was juicy and delicious, there was a good amount of cheese, and the jalapeno sauce was fantastic. In fact, it was what made this so awesome. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to breakfast stuff (I put nothing on my eggs other than cheese, salt and pepper and maybe crumbled bacon), but the just-enough spice of this sauce gave this what it needed while making it less dry. It really helped this sandwich. My only problem was the hash brown, which was cooked too much and made this overly crunchy.

I got another one on trip #2, this time with bacon. 

The sausage was better, but they got the hash brown right this time, and solidified what I already knew- that when made correctly, this was something worth getting up early for. 

I'd recommend the sausage or steak (haven't actually had the steak version yet) though, as the bacon is the crumbled, bacon-bits variety that I don't think really tastes like bacon. I mean, obviously it does, but it's more of a ham flavor than the greasy, salty goodness that comes from perfectly cooked strips of bacon. Get those in this thing and we'll talk. Until then, make mine sausage.

they certainly put a lot of bacon

Rating: A (as long as they don't burn the hash brown)

Next up was a dollar menu item, the AM Grilled Taco. It looked about right for a dollar item.

Ok, maybe not.

I went with bacon on this one too, and yea, I'd skip this one. What you get for a dollar is pretty damn good, but still, it's just eggs, (too much) bacon (only too much because it's not very good bacon) and cheese, sandwiched by a soft tortilla that's grilled to melt everything together. 

It wasn't bad, but it wasn't really anything worth getting excited about. I even tried to un-blah it by dipping it in maple syrup.

But it was still pretty blah. 

Not bad, but not really worth getting. I guess that means it gets a C-.

Next up, another dollar menu item- the always exciting hash brown.

I didn't have ketchup, but at least that means I tasted this for exactly what it was. Unfortunately, they cooked mine way too much again. Look at the crunch!

Which may excite you until you realize how thin that makes the hash brown. 

This was a crumbling mess that I didn't even finish. But they clearly can make good ones (as evidenced by my revisiting of the AM Crunchwrap), but either way, a hash brown is mostly just that- a hash brown. Did Taco Bell make a good one? Yea, as long as they cook them correctly. But still, I'm not sure I'd ever get one on its own. This is just kind of a prerequisite for a breakfast menu, and a very necessary part of the AM Crunchwrap. Get one in there or get a side if you really want one, but they're pretty standard. 

Lastly, the other big item I was excited to try- the Taco Bell Waffle Taco.

Well, no, Taco Bell, unless I hold the empty box in people's faces when I'm eating this, I'm ABOUT to eat a waffle taco, and since I'm the only one looking at the box, you can't really tell me I'm not going to eat it!

I appreciate the hell out of Taco Bell for trying this out. I'm sure they took inspiration from their BFF KFC (who created the Doubledown) for this one. It's sausage or bacon, and cheese (tons) in a "taco" made of waffle, with a side of maple syrup. Alright, now things are getting interesting.

more like a shell than a taco

Sadly though, that's where the interesting ended. There was lots of cheese, a good amount of eggs, and that awesome sausage patty again. Where could they go wrong? Sadly, the most important part- the waffle. 

Everyone loves waffles if they're cooked correctly. They end up being crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. This was dry and spongy the way only terrible pancakes can be. It was just annoying bread that was sort of like a waffle, but oddly more like a bad pancake. Even dipped in maple syrup, it was just a major bummer of an item- a real gutterball of a creation.

It just falls apart and doesn't really work. I like waffles and sausage in maple syrup, but eggs and cheese in syrup are weird. Maybe if the waffle was better, I wouldn't even think about the eggs and cheese, but I found myself trying to find ways to like this when it just wasn't good.

Taco Bell: Don't make a waffle taco and have the waffle be the worst part of it. 
Thanks for trying, but I have to give this hard-to-eat-without-it-falling-apart mess of an insult to waffles an F. Maybe the professional chefs at Taco Bell were having an off day (not only did they burn the hash brows, but I paid for Cinnabon Bites, and they were nowhere to be found in my bag!), but I can't imagine these waffles would be much different on a different day. It's cheap and a fun idea, but it just wasn't good.

But that AM Crunchwrap... that's enough to keep me going back. 

Stay tuned for part 2, featuring the Sausage Flatbread Melt, breakfast burritos, and Cinnabon Delights!

-review by Mike

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