By Robert Barge
My first taste of North American culture was quite welcome after a tiresome nonstop flight from Sydney. Minutes after I stepped off of the plane I was hungry and sore, but in for a real treat: My first taste of authentic North American cuisine — the airport Taco Bell.
As I stepped into the brilliant florescent lights, the delicious tangy smell of 88 percent real meat sizzling from the kitchen overtook my senses. After blinking a few times to get my eyes to adjust, I took in the ambience of the building — relatively small for a restaurant, but not too crowded. The best word to be used is “quaint.” The colorful art on the windows displayed parts of their menu and really gave the place a cheerful attitude — most of the language in the art was very positive and exciting.
There wasn’t a hostess, so I seated myself. Let’s just say that the service at Taco Bell is poor at best. My waiter never came. Instead, I walked directly up to the kitchen and sent my order from the counter. There’s a certain level of quirk about their ordering system as diners must pay for their food before they even receive it. If the staff at Taco Bell wants a tip, they’re going to have to work a little bit harder to win my wallet’s favor.
Poor customer service aside, the food was so sumptuous and divine that I expect I’ll be attending this establishment far more times than just this visit. I started my meal off with an American-infused Mexican classic, “The Doritos Locos Taco.” The taco came coated in a thick dust that was a color that can only be described as “radioactive orange” and a taste that can only be “radioactive delicious.”
The chef clearly knew what he was doing taste-wise, but can anything be so tacky as handing a diner a paper-wrapped meal? I decided to give the plating another chance by ordering their special: a Chili Cheese Fries Loaded Griller. This exceeded all my expectations, as my refined palate was satiated by every aspect of this burrito-like masterpiece. Carefully fried potato “tots” were crammed in a buttered tortilla with molten ballpark-style processed cheese, beany meat and carefully blended “secret” spices. When I asked to speak to the chef about the spices, he himself did not know exactly went into them. Apparently the owners are very covetous of their recipe.
Taco Bell’s drink menu caught my eye after finishing my chili cheese treat. These drinks came in such an assortment of vivid colors that I was surprised I hadn’t noticed them when I first walked in. I asked one of the staff what their signature drink would be and I was told that the “Baja Blast” was a Taco Bell exclusive, so I went for that. The tart slush that I quickly guzzled was so delicious and so sugary that though my vision was starting to blur, I had to drink 3 of them in quick succession.
After finishing my lip-smacking dinner, I decided that I still had enough room for a dessert and looked at the dessert menu to find a treasure trove of delicacies from all over North America. This was the toughest decision of the night — do I go for a classic churro or does my inner diabetic wont for the 4 pack of Cinnabon Delights? I decide to appease the monster within and go for the Cinnabons. These bite-sized pastry morsels are packed full of frosting and rolled in cinnamon sugar reminiscent of my childhood toast preference.
Despite the shortcomings in ambience and service, Taco Bell’s food more than makes up for them. In fact, the food is so good that it even makes up for the bathroom trip you’ll inevitably need afterwards.
9/10 stars, would eat again.
Robert Barge is a clueless Australian, and can no longer smell due to a high school chemistry class explosion.