LYT's Fast Food Review: Beefy Crunch Burrito at Taco Bell

Being from the South, I am well familiar with the phrase, “It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity.” Indeed, 104-degree temperatures are easier to take in Los Angeles, CA, than they are in Chapel Hill, NC...though “easier” is a relative term for some people. I can dig heat, and in fact enjoy laughing at those who can’t, because for years and years they have found it endlessly amusing that I have trouble with cold. All I’ll say is you can catch cold, but being in heat is a good thing. Quad erat demonstrandum (look it up).


Dry heat is preferable when it comes to weather, but less so in the context of burritos. Burritos should be as wet as possible, within the confines of a tortilla that can maintain relative impermeability. You can experiment with this yourself at places like El Pollo Loco that offer tortillas on the side. My experiment this week involved something called the Beefy Crunch Burrito.

I need to run down the year in fast food sometime, but suffice it to say that 2010 was the year Taco Bell pretty much gave up the ghost of fake-Mexican and veered into full-on white trashitude. The combos with Doritos on the side were one thing, but now we get a burrito with Fritos inside. When I saw the picture above at first, I thought the item in question contained the Bell’s version of potatoes, which crumble like ashes in your mouth. But no...they are Flamin’ Hot Fritos. And yet the company is afraid to own that fact, it seems...because why on earth else would you call this the Beefy Crunch Burrito, a name that describes about eight other items at Taco Bell?

You’re not gonna go with the rhythmic “Frito Burrito”? Really? Too reminiscent of the dubious Frito bandito? Remember, Bell bosses, your company was never more popular than when it had a Mexican-accented mascot, in the form of the late Chihuahua. Yo Quiero Nostalgia. If you want to actually win those franchise wars predicted in DEMOLITION MAN, you’re a long way away.

But what of the burrito itself? At 99 cents, the price is right, and it comes wrapped nicely, with both ends tied shut. The tortilla, it seemed to me, was more gummy like a street tortilla, rather than the floury, break-y thing most commonly found in the hizzy. This was a plus. I also like the inclusion of nacho cheese, the Bell’s best and least overused staple ingredient. And what follows may in part be due to my stubborn insistence on omitting sour cream (oops, beg pardon, I mean COOL sour cream, just like it’s always WARM nacho cheese), but I mentioned dry heat above for a reason – once you get into the Fritos part of the burrito, it has a nice burn, but suddenly gets dry as my mouth when I wake up in the middle of the night after passing out following twelve beers and three aspirin (blame Mr. Bradley J. Fikes for that one; I, as a true liberal, am never responsible for anything I do).

If ingredients actually equated to “layers,” as the deceitfully named “Seven Layer Burrito” would have it, perhaps the burrito would be more uniformly composed, and my issues null and void. However, it seemed as though they inhabited separate compartments in the tortilla train that was my burrito, where I would have preferred a mixer with some full on hot and wet integration.

Fritos in burrito: good idea. Beefy Crunch Burrito: subpar execution.

Luke Y. Thompson is an actor, writer, and film critic living in Hollywood.

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