I'm going to tell you one of the more awesome things I have done since I've graced you with my presence on this earth: I starved myself for a week and then went to Taco Bell.
I shouldn't say starving because I totally ate like a TON of dressing-less salad and brothy soup. I wasn't trying to lose weight; I was trying to save up my carbs. All of them. For the end all, be all of taco excursions.
So, my friend and I are like World's Number One and Two Taco Bell fans. She was getting married. I was making her cake. We didn't need no cake tasting. We needed a Taco Bell tasting. I think the original conversation went something like this:
You know how people save up money and go out to a nice restaurant for a special occasion?
We should just use all that money and go to Taco Bell and order one of everything off the menu.
When should we go?
So, back to the starving. I don't know if you know this, but Taco Bell has quite a few menu items. Half of them you can order with chicken or steak or Meximeat or plain or supreme or THERE'S A LOT OF OPTIONS, OKAY. Which means you are not allowed to take in more than 10 calories a day for the week leading up to the big event.
Now, since we aren't completely crazy, we realized it was impossible to taste one of everything because A) That is a beautiful idea but you'd have to be like Michael Phelps and B) The Cantina Bell menu will bankrupt this venture before it's begun. No, we had to narrow it down and we narrowed it down to Meximeat. One of everything with Meximeat, not just because it's the cheapest, but because it's the original. You wouldn't go to a McDonald's tasting and leave out the hamburgers, would you? Or maybe you just wouldn't go to a McDonald's tasting.
Okay, we have decided to order one of everything that has ground beef, except for taco salad because pfft. And at my friend's insistence, no taco labeled "Fresco" because...it's Taco Bell. We're not kidding anyone. But everything supreme, because this is a special occasion. You know it's a big deal when you pay the extra ten cents for them to break out the sour cream gun.
That left us with twenty-one menu items. OHMYGOD ARE YOU AS EXCITED AS I WAS? First things first, how to order? We decided to write down each menu item we would be ordering on a slip of paper and put into a bag where we could blindly draw three items at a time. Three would be the most we would order so we wouldn't end up with soggy food. Soggy food is a big ol' sad face. We would just repeat this process seven times.
I brought some appetite stimulant along in case I hit my wall. Enter peach gin. We picked up some Sprite Zero because I have this thing that I don't drink caffeine and I don't drink sugar and I don't drink liquor straight and I really don't drink soda unless it's a mixer. Taco Bell doesn't offer anything to accommodate my needs so we figured they would be okay if we brought in our own drinks since we were going to be ordering twenty-one items off the menu. Also, most people who work at Taco Bell are sixteen and if they even tried to care, they would get distracted by some text from their best frenemy that is written in capslock sans vowels. My friend said if anyone asked, we should just tell them that there are no caffeine-free, low-calorie offerings at the soda fountain so we had to bring our own. I like that logic. It is the logic of someone who desperately needs something to eat.
My friend wondered aloud if we should tell the cashier what we were up to, and I said no, we should just wait to see how many times we would go up and order before they started to recognize us. So, of course my friend decided to tell the cashier exactly what we were doing, and I'm not sure if this was a straight out bride-to-be veto or if her blood sugar was getting low on account of a week of no carbs.
Hi, Haley. We are going to be...
Why did you call me Haley?
Umm, it's on your name tag.
Oh. My name is Leah.
I like the fact that Leah was just randomly wearing Haley's name tag. I guess it makes sense because if anyone calls to complain about bad customer service, it's that bitch Haley who is going to get in trouble. Also, apparently no one at Taco Bell is ever worried on missing out on a call about excellent customer service because this ain't Chick-fil-a. In addition, I think it's interesting that when my friend called Leah Haley, no bells went off. She's going to get herself into some Three's Company-type scenario when she hits the college nightclub scene and starts giving guys fake names.
While waiting for our first three items, we came up with an official score sheet for the big taco tasting. Each item would be scored 1-5 on taste, texture, and appearance. This was highly scientific and would basically prove to be the Zagat survey of Taco Bell. In La Plata, Maryland. From the night shift. After varying amounts of peach gin. This is some scientific shiznit.
I was so dedicated to the tasting that I didn't even cover the food in hot sauce so I could actually taste all the love and attention that went into my meal. I instead saved the handful I always snag with the napkins (muscle memory) and stored them in my purse. Because I read once that there was a woman who ran off the road and was trapped in our car and survived for days on packets of taco sauce until she was found.
We eventually got to the point where this turned into a fancy meal because the trays were being brought out to us, kind of like Chick-fil-a, which by this post appears to be my standard of fine dining. I have to say, this is one of the more impressive Taco Bells I've ever been in. The food was spot-on and it was new and clean and so unlike one Taco Bell in Cary, North Carolina which manages to make the tacos taste like band-aids and has an atmosphere like Epcot's Maelstrom. No one ever wants to eat a taco in there.
As the trays were delivered, the guy bringing them would smile and say, "Have a good night!" To which he heard in reply, You don't have to keep telling us that. We're not going anywhere. We were serious food critics and demanded to be taken seriously.
I have to say that there were a few surprises, among them a new Doritos Locos Taco. I have said it before and I'll say it again: I find the Doritos Locos Taco just the sum of its parts. The regular and the Cool Ranch are just okay. The taco doesn't seem to be as crunchy as a regular taco and it gets your hands all messy. I came into the great taco tasting with this bias. Turns out, I felt the same way when I ate those two tacos. UNTIL THE FIERY DORITOS LOCOS TACO. Sweet momma, this thing was amazing. So I take back one-third of everything I said about Doritos Locos Tacos before. I think this is the one to try if you haven't already.
Also, the volcano nachos were a huge surprise, which seem to be disappearing off the menu recently. Get them while you can. Neither of us could figure out why we had never tried them before and now I'm sad that they are increasingly harder to find. Just don't go to that Taco Bell in Cary. They will serve you volcano sauce that smells like death. Still tastes like band-aids, though.
So, after 1 hour, 32 minutes, and 9 seconds, we managed to spend $56.37. I knew you could get a lot for your money at Taco Bell, but you go in there with anything more than a twenty and you eat like a king. A very, very fat king with a tape worm. Who is eating his feelings. And has the peach gin munchies.
The results are in: on the night of August 29, 2013, there was a tie for best Meximeat item: the Chalupa Supreme and the Cheesy Beefy Potato Burrito. Both can be yours for less than five dollars. I have confirmed the results a few times since the tasting and can tell you these are also very delicious even if you don't have access to peach gin.
I have to say, I have sort of an iron-clad stomach but even I was afraid of what so much Taco Bell would do to me. Turns out, I was worried about the wrong thing. I didn't poop for three days. I don't care, though, because it was totally worth it. Plus, I packed elastic-waisted pants.