Taco Bell go-tos

This has been a long-time source of some shame for me, but I really haven’t visited a Taco Bell since childhood. Last night, I was staring at a late-night dilemma out in suburban Long Island where I continually pushed off grabbing something for dinner until my only options were fast food. I thought this would be a good time to foray back into Taco Bell, as I don’t really care much for your McD’s, KFC, etc. of the world. However, when I got there, I realized I had LITERALLY no idea what to get. I was holding up the drive-thru line for an awkward amount of time as I stumbled through the entirety of the menu until finally I gave up, knowing that I was not likely to come to any true consensus in my mind and just grabbed a 3 Taco Supreme combo meal.

It was satisfying, but I couldn’t help feel like I left something out on the table there. As I know you are the expert on all things TB, and feeling completely unfulfilled by my this effort and knowing that I NEED to make another trip soon to scratch the itch that now exists, can you give me a Top 3 “Go-to” items on that menu to either narrow my choices down to next time I get on that line, or simply order all 3 to sample, when I get there again (likely tonight, lets be honest)?

Bill (but not the same Bill from before), via email.

OK, it all depends on where you’re planning on eating it. If you’re going to sit in the dining room (perhaps because you’re at the Rockville Centre, N.Y. Taco Bell and abiding by the town’s draconian anti-late-night-drive-thru law) or take it home, there’s one set of recommendations. If you’re going to eat it in the car as roughly 97% of all the world’s Taco Bell is consumed, there’s another.

Note: I don’t get these same things every time, or every time I’m driving or anything like that. But I do almost exclusively order ground-beef items at Taco Bell. Sorry, but the chicken doesn’t do it for me. If it’s your thing, great, and feel free to swap in chicken items where they correspond to those below.

Dining room only:

1) Volcano Taco: For me, the rare opportunity to eat Taco Bell while sitting means I am certainly getting a Volcano Taco, the best new menu item of the last five years. Sometimes I even get Volcano Tacos while driving and just deal with the inevitable Lava sauce stains on my shirt and jeans. They’re that good. They’re built like regular crunchy tacos, but they come in a red shell — which is novel — and they’re swimming in cheesy, fiery hot Lava sauce, which is incredible.

2) Baja Beef Gordita: I’m not even sure if the Baja Gorditas are technically on the menu anymore, but I’ve never had a Taco Bell employee balk at the order. Gorditas from Taco Bell, you may know, are Taco Bell stuff in pillowy, pita-like flatbread. Baja means it comes with Pepper Jack sauce instead of “Supreme,” which everyone knows is Taco Bell Spanish for “with Sour Cream.” It’s sort of floppy and messy, so driving while eating it is only for seasoned experts. I usually order mine with no tomatoes, as is the case with all the tomato-bearing items listed here.

For mobile users:

1) Crunchwrap Supreme: To date the only Taco Bell menu item that has inspired me to write poetry, the Crunchwrap Supreme is basically all of the Taco Bell stuff — lettuce, beef, nacho cheese, sour cream, and crunchy tortilla — wrapped up into one soft tortilla and grilled. It’s the ideal way to cram all the best Taco Bell flavors into one package, keep it crunchy and make it portable, and it’s among the greatest innovations in the post-Glen Bell-era of Mexican-inspired fast food.

2) MexiMelt: A MexiMelt is like a soft taco, only there’s no lettuce, they use the melty tri-color cheese that’s in some items, and they seal it all up so it’s perfect for driving. Also, the name “MexiMelt” will never not be funny to me. Taco Bell!

All situations:

Cheesy Gordita Crunch: The Cheesy Gordita Crunch is my favorite thing to order at Taco Bell. It’s an awesome carb bomb featuring a gordita shell affixed to a crunchy taco shell by melted cheese, filled with ground beef and covered with the Pepper Jack sauce. And it’s a feat of engineering: The taco-shell skeleton provides support for the soft flesh of gordita on the outside, so it has the strength the gordita lacks but doesn’t crumble like a crunchy taco when you bite into it. Sometimes it’s not on the menu but they’ll always make it for you.

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