As I’m sure most of you are aware, Taco Bell has recently introduced a breakfast menu, available from about 7:00 AM until 11:00 AM at most of their restaurants. You might be thinking “oh, that actually sounds cool. I wonder if they’ll adapt actual Mexican or Latin American breakfast dishes into something that can be easily reproduced in a fast food setting?” You’re right, dear reader, that would be cool. It’s also almost the opposite of what they did. Rather than adapting Mexican breakfast food into a fast food context, they adapted standard fast food breakfast fare into vaguely Mexican shapes and formats. This isn’t a super new idea, as evidenced by even McDonald’s having breakfast burritos, and the majority of their menu is pretty standard breakfast burritos and tacos. The signature ones, though, are the AM Crunchwrap, a variation of their standard Crunchwrap full of breakfast meats and cheese and an entire hash brown, and the Waffle Taco, which is you guessed it, a waffle folded over like a taco, full of eggs, sausage and cheese. It also comes with syrup to drizzle across it.

Oh my God... I'm back. I'm home. All the time, it was... We finally really did it. [falls to his knees screaming] YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! (camera pans to reveal the half-destroyed Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand)

Oh my God… I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was… We finally really did it. [falls to his knees screaming] YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! (camera pans to reveal the half-destroyed Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand)

If it sounds like I’m angry about this, I’m not. This is basically the kind of thing Sandwichtalk lives for, and my only regret is that it took me so long to try it and report back. A lot of it had to do with putting in the effort to get out to a Taco Bell before noon, to be honest. But enough chit-chat. Is the Taco Bell Breakfast menu worth it?

Actually yeah, I’d say so. I’m a fan of fast food breakfasts in general, with the McGriddles being my favorite, and it’s pretty standard, in terms of ingredients and quality. The AM Crunchwrap comes with choice of meat between steak, sausage and bacon, and I went with sausage, the most breakfasty of the bunch. It was all surprisingly competent, with the eggs, hash brown and sausage being pretty tasty and the right consistency. It also had a tangy sauce, which may have been the normal Crunchwrap sauce (I’m not overly familiar with the Crunchwrap) but reminded me of their quesadilla sauce. All in all, it was satisfying, and easier to eat than I remember Crunchwraps as being.

The little lumps on the left are Cinnabon Delights. They're kind of beyond this blog's purview, but they're delicious little doughnut holes filled with icing and served warm. They might be the best part.

The little lumps on the left are Cinnabon Delights. They’re kind of beyond this blog’s purview, but they’re delicious little doughnut holes filled with icing and served warm. They might be the best part.

And now, for the main event. The Waffle Taco. Unfortunately for this blog, the Waffle Taco is both not as bad I might have feared, nor as good as I might have hoped. The waffle itself is alright, but much more akin to a thick flatbread than an actual waffle. It’s soft and a bit soggy, where I was hoping for a texture if not quite as still as a hard shell, then at least a little crispy. The sausage and eggs are fine, and the addition of syrup is a nice touch. This all probably sounds like damning with faint praise, but it’s really not a bad breakfast. It can be a little messy, so I’d probably go with the Crunchwrap in general over the Waffle Taco, but the WT is worth trying at least once.

It’s odd to say I was disappointed by the Taco Bell Breakfast, because it’s actually much better than I expected. Everything about it was tasty enough, and competently executed. It’s just that McDonald’s and Burger King have had the breakfast game locked up for years now, and without something truly revolutionary, Taco Bell can’t compete. But there’s nothing wrong with being acceptable, so if you’re looking for cheap breakfast (around $5 per meal) and a Taco Bell is nearby, give it a shot.

Anyone who’s stopped by Taco Bell recently has noticed something upsetting. There’s been some rather insidious price-gauging going on, and nearly everything’s been moved a price-point. That’s an increase of about 20-50 cents, depending on the item. This has thrown my usual meal (Crispy Potato Soft Taco, Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, and Chicken Burrito) into disarray. As a partial solution to the problem, Taco Bell introduced their Loaded Grillers line, a series of small, grilled wraps for 99 cents apiece. Are they enough to fill the hole in my heart?

Oh man, I forgot about this. They're also trying to market these as a viable alternative to classic Game Day food. Seriously?

Oh man, I forgot about this. They’re also trying to market these as a viable alternative to classic Game Day food. Seriously?

Yes and no. The Grillers are up and down, depending on their content, but overall they’re not super satisfying or filling. Let’s move into specifics.

  • The Spicy Buffalo Chicken Griller was my least favorite. My disdain for buffalo sauce is well known at this point, but more than that, I felt that the combination of chicken, Lava sauce, and sour cream was missing an essential third element, like cheese or tomatoes or something. I wanted more from it, and I didn’t like what I did get out of it.
  • The Beefy Nacho Griller fared a bit better. It combined ground beef, nacho cheese, and slightly spicy Fritos-style red corn chips into something akin to a Volcano burrito. It comes together nicely, but again, the smaller size leaves me wanting a bit more.
  • My favorite, surprisingly enough, was the Loaded Potato Griller. I’ve said before that adding potatoes to a wrap is a great way to round out the flavor and make it more filling, and indeed, this sandwich reminded me a lot of a Menna’s Dub. The Griller combines potatoes, bacon, nacho cheese, and sour cream into a filling, flavorful meal. This is the only one of the bunch I can see making it into my regular rotation.

All in all, the Loaded Grillers were pretty disappointing. While I enjoyed the Loaded Potato, the other two felt like smaller versions of other items, or at worst things thrown together from scraps, like the ill-fated Chicken Flatbread. Check them out if you want, but you’d be better off resigning yourself to paying a little more at the register.

I mentioned Menna’s Joint in my list of Kalamazoo’s best sandwiches, but I think for some context I should recap it here.  Menna’s is a sandwich joint which serves up a variety of big wraps to the college crowd at Michigan State University and Western Michigan University.  They’re open pretty much around the clock, and they deliver.  Menna’s recipe strategy is generally combining a lot of potatoes, cheese, chicken tenders, bacon and sour cream is a burrito-style wrap.  It’s not exactly inspired, but these “dubs” are hearty, tasty and filling.

Also, this is their mascot, which basically tells you everything you need to know about Menna’s and a lot of their clientele.

But Menna’s seems to have branched out a bit.  Following a tip from a friend, I checked out their latest creation, the Turkey Dub.  It’s a holdiay-themed wrap which includes turkey, potatoes, stuffing and gravy.  It’s not an outlandish idea; the internet is rife with similar recipes for Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches.  But Menna’s doesn’t ever do anything halfway, so I decided to give it a shot.

Trust me, they’re actually really good. Honest.

It was actually pretty good!!  The turkey was of a decent quality, and while the stuffing was from a box recipe, it was filling and flavorful.  Potatoes, which are always a strength of Menna’s wraps, are well used.  The gravy keeps the dub from being too dry, but otherwise doesn’t lend very much to the overall flavor.  I would’ve liked them to take the theme even further by including cranberry sauce, as a way to introduce an opposing flavor, but since they’re already going out on a bit of a limb I can’t really blame them.

The Turkey Dub was a worthwhile meal, all things considered.  Like most of the fare from Menna’s, it’s a little much to eat in one sitting but not nearly enough for two meals.  But it’s a tasty enough exercise in Thanksgiving sandwich making, and worth checking out before it disappears at the end of the year.