I got so caught up in another new sandwich-style product from a Yum! Foods restaurant that I almost forgot to write up Taco Bell’s new Bacon Ranch Tortada.
Still, I purchased a Bacon Ranch Tortada with tempered expectations. While Taco Bell products with bacon sound amazing in abstraction, they’ve never entirely hit the mark. Remember the Bacon Club Chalupa? Disappointing.
It seems Taco Bell has never really nailed the preparation of good bacon. I mean that as no disrespect to Taco Bell or bacon, naturally, but I think this gets overlooked pretty frequently in discussions of the merits of fast-food restaurants: Wendy’s is the only major national fast-food joint that makes truly delicious bacon.
McDonald’s bacon just kind of tastes like everything else from McDonald’s, only with a slight aroma of bacon. Burger King bacon is thin and soggy. The KFC bacon on the Double Down was overpowered by the fried chicken flavor, and totally extraneous to the sandwich — probably just thrown on there for the sheer Rex Ryan bravado of it all. (Also, probably thrown on there to tempt Rex Ryan, gastric band or no gastric band.)
Wendy’s bacon is legit. The Baconator is the showpiece of Wendy’s bacon package, but even lesser offerings like the Value Menu’s Junior Bacon Cheeseburger provide a decent slice of crispy, tasty bacon — albeit a small one.
Perhaps the secret to preparing decent fast-food bacon died with Dave Thomas though — rest in peace, brother — because even Taco Bell’s bacon is nothing special. Taco Bell chops its bacon up into small bits which bear a decent amount of bacon flavor, but are a bit too salty and entirely lack bacon crunch.
As for the rest of the Bacon Ranch Tortada? Color me unenthused. I should say that another reason I wasn’t expecting much is that I generally avoid chicken products from Taco Bell that aren’t the long-gone Chicken Caesar Grilled Stuft Burrito, a limited-time promotional item most notable as the debut showcase for the Crunchy Red Strips.
Straight up? And again, no disrespect, but Taco Bell chicken has just never done it for me. I’m here for the beef, baby.
Anyway, all that said I thought maybe the Bacon Ranch Tortada would at least be marginally interesting, since the tortada itself appears to be a new development. And I mean really a new development. I’m not sure such a thing as a “tortada” exists in actual Mexican food, as there’s no Wikipedia page for “tortada” and I can’t find any Google returns for tortada that are not about the Taco Bell products.
Still, you have to hand it to Taco Bell for at least improving their ability to come up with more realistically Mexican names for their new products. A tortada sounds way more like something I’d eat in Guadalajara than a MexiMelt, although now that I’ve had both I’d probably opt for the MexiMelt if it were available, because MexiMelts are totally delicious.
The Bacon Ranch Tortada? Less so. It’s not really even a new thing; it’s basically just the tortilla from a Crunchwrap Supreme filled with extant Taco Bell ingredients, plus the disappointing bacon. It’s like a Crunchwrap Supreme without the Crunch, and I guess without the Supreme since there’s no sour cream in there either. Oh, and it’s sliced in half, since that’s what makes it a tortada apparently.
Now look: I don’t begrudge Taco Bell its right to repackage familiar Taco Bell ingredients in new ways, plus I appreciate the use of the delicious avocado ranch sauce here, but it’s my responsibility as a journalist to call Taco Bell out when it misses the mark, and that’s what happened with the Bacon Ranch Tortada. Dry chicken, uninspiring bacon, no crunch. Still delicious, mind you, but not something I’ll ever order again.
Plus, if Taco Bell’s going to keep rolling out new products without actually incorporating new ingredients, they should probably consider my innovative and interactive flash-driven interface idea.