“Consumers said that's more than just interesting, it's like 'where have you been my whole life,'” Taco Bell's chief marketing and innovation officer Brian Niccol told Forbes recently, about the public's reaction to the Doritos Locos Taco. This taco concoction is exactly what you might think it is: A regular Taco Bell beef taco with one giant Nacho Cheese Dorito chip that serves as the shell. Indeed, the Doritos Locos Taco successfully filled a void we didn't know existed; its sales led Taco Bell to a successful quarter, and there are plans to roll out Cool Ranch-flavored shells this year.
Our initial taste test of the Doritos Loco Taco, however, was decidedly underwhelming. This led us to wonder whether the deconstructed version — a taco, a Dorito — is greater than the sum of its parts. And so, for this Food Fight, we grabbed a bag of Doritos from a liquor store not too far from our local Taco Bell, and went in to find out.
The Doritos Locos Taco is about 30 cents more than a regular Crunchy Taco and comes in a Doritos-decorated sleeve. The sleeve, you'll quickly realize, is useless: No matter how hard you try to contain the taco in its paper shell, you will end up with a trail of fine orange powder on your fingers and, later, on your steering wheel. The actual taco shell was as vividly neon orange as a Dorito chip, yet it disappointingly tasted more like Taco Bell's regular hard shell with a dusting of orange cheese powder than anything else. The “seasoned” beef and other fillings muted the flavor even more. The shell also got soggy and crumbled more readily than the regular taco.
Next, we turned to a plain and simple Crunchy Taco and popped open the bag of Doritos. Separating the two indeed turned out to be better. The shell held strong and crisp to the last bite, and we got all the bursts of Doritos flavor we needed from the chips alone. Like Shaq and Kobe, then, the taco and the Doritos work better when they're each allowed to shine as separate entities, rather than when they're mashed together in the same unit.
Generally speaking, there are better hard-shell tacos in town — Tacos Por Favor in Santa Monica, for one — but if, for any number of reasons, you find yourself headed to a Taco Bell for such a snack, hit the liquor store first and grab some Doritos. Together with the taco, they really are all that and a bag of chips.