Beyond may have disappointed me with continental cuisine, but perhaps a trip south of the border bodes well…
I had about one meal total at a Del Taco before I found out that Beyond Beef was offered there. Before then, I was barely impressed by the chain, really it seemed to be a Taco Bell that offered fries, which is fine, but I don’t really eat fries and Taco Bell always suited me fine anyway.
Coming from the Midwest, there’s always this weird envy for the West Coast fast food chains that get talked up by West Coast folk. In-N-Out Burger is the most famous of these, which is funny because that’s, like, a pretty solid burger place. Shake Shack gets it too, I guess. My theory behind this is that they’re better than the average fast food chain and people from the West Coast love the hell outta where they live.
However, I’m more interested in that middle-tier fast food that we don’t get in the midwest, a tier of fast food that is of comparable quality to fast food anywhere else but simply doesn’t make it out there for whatever reason. Jack-in-the-Box, Rubio’s Coastal Grill, El Pollo Loco, that sort of place. Del Taco is firmly placed in that middle ground.
When I went veg back in 2015, Mexican fast food started to take up a vast chunk of my fast food budget. I could find food that sat well with me at Taco Bell and Chipotle that I couldn’t have found at McDonald’s or Wendy’s or wherever else. I have favorites on those menus that entered into Bad Food Decision Canon, and those restaurants are here as well.
For those reasons, I have had little reason to get Del Taco, even judging by the poor reasons that have me going to a Quick-Service Mexican chain in the first place. However – In the style of the time, Del Taco has chosen to supplement its already-ahead-of-the-curve selection of non-meat proteins with a fake meat protein.
Del Taco offers two dishes with Beyond Meat – the Beyond Taco, and the Beyond Avocado Taco. These are also only available in the greater Los Angeles and San Diego metros right now so uhhhhh Eat Shit, Phoenix. This is payback for the 2007 MLB Season. I also enjoyed these with a nice Modelo Especial, which seemed fitting for the occasion.
The Beyond Taco
Turns out that I did not take individual photos of both tacos. The Beyond Taco is the one absolutely covered in that neon yellow cheese.
So the first thing to notice about the Beyond Taco is that it’s absolutely covered in that neon yellow cheese. It spills out, and it falls out of its fragile shell, on to the plate, on to the carpet, where it would remain forever in the same color and shape and consistency. They’re heavy on the lettuce as well. The jalapenos caught me off guard, too, they’re… uh… not from a jar.
The meaty bit I could absolutely taste, though, and it felt… well, meaty. It felt right, I guess, and it looked right, too. One aspect of the Beyond Taco that I think could screw with people is the sort of dissonance that Beyond meat looks a hell of a lot like beef, has the mouthfeel and texture of beef, but just tastes a little bit off of beef. It’s not quite an impossible burger in terms of flavor match, though I haven’t eaten beef in a while so my taste profile is likely compromised a bit.
This was an average fast food taco, which, I suppose, is fine. If you want an average fast food taco, this is the place to go.
The Beyond Avocado Taco
Before moving here, the first thing that I knew about Del Taco was the name of the restaurant, followed by a person mispronouncing the phrase “fresh avocado”. The ironic thing here is that my taco contained a fairly old avocado, unlike what the sign in the vine would’ve led me to believe.
Fast food & the avocado are a dangerous combo. Fast food is built on relatively long term-storage (as far as food production goes) and the avocado is perhaps the vegetable that shows its age the quickest. This avocado was mostly brown, which does not mean that it was bad, just… like, aesthetically displeasing. I wasn’t pumped to bite into a big ol’ bite of brown ‘cado.
Nevertheless, I got through it and y’know what? That wasn’t too bad. Taking that mound of bright yellow government cheese out of the equation significantly changed this experience, and on the rare occasion that I got all five ingredients to the taco – shell, beyond beef, lettuce, tomato, and avocado – together, the flavor and textural profiles of each ingredient actually complemented each other.
I doubt that the folks at Del Taco are splurging for the highest caliber avocados but the creaminess of the avocado really fit well with the typical taco experience. The Beyond meat really kinda fell by the wayside in my experience, which I kinda consider a good thing. It didn’t feel special, and to a certain extent, it probably shouldn’t have. If the goal is to emulate a ground beef taco, the Beyond beef does just that, acting as a sort of meaty base rather than taking the reins of the experience
Well, y’know what? If you’re lookin’ for a veggie kick to your fast food goings-on and you live in the Los Angeles or San Diego metropolitan areas… Then the Beyond Avocado Taco is an excellent option. The Beyond Taco is fine, also, I guess. You could also just do the same thing you always do and substitute beef for refried beans at most of these Mexican quick-service restaurants.
But whatever. Del Taco took the shot with Beyond Meat, and for the most part, they made it.