Thursday, January 2, 2020

Steveats: Burger King (and Jack in the Box) tacos

This is a BK taco.
This feature went away for a while, but now... IT'S BACK! I tryout questionable food items so that you don’t have to in… Steveats. (Note: Title developed in about 10 seconds of brainstorming.)

My consistent nemesis on this blog, Burger King, has been hyping yet another one of their culinary flailings lately – the $1 taco. Now, I'm not as fundamentally opposed to this as one might think! It is a low price point, and hey, it's not like Taco Bell is using grade-A meat in their offerings, which scratch at my lizard brain in a delightful way. Burger King's products theoretically are made of meat, so the King offering a taco doesn't strike me as too outlandish.

However, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Frankly, the product was nearly a 1:1 copy of another disappointing food item I tried during my first week in Texas, when I was desperate for some cheap fast food – The Jack in the Box taco. In fact, I'm going to describe BOTH of them at the same time in this entry, because I'm almost positive they were created by the same culinary master.

Firstly, the shell. It basically tastes like a Frito, and I don't mean this as a positive. I mean that the taco shell is oddly crispy and crunchy, like they double fried the thing or something. Until tasting the Jack taco, I didn't even know a shell could be “too crunchy.”

Secondly, the “meat,” quote usage intentional. I don't know what this sludge was, but it didn't really taste like any normal ground beef. Both Burger King and Jack use a type of meat I would classify as a slurry. It tastes highly pureed, which probably causes all of the good stuff in the batch to sink to the bottom of whatever disgusting urn they're using to cook it in. (I'm picturing something akin to a witch's brew pot.) Jack has a squirt of some red, tomato-y kind of sauce in there, which basically tastes like watered-down ketchup.

My other bulletpoints here: I give the slight edge to Jack, because while the tacos are awful, their version is priced better at two-for-$1. Both had a decent amount of lettuce, but too little cheese, which would have helped to cover up the awfulness of the meat. At both places, I got some other items – mozzarella sticks at BK (very meh, but OK for $1), and the double burger at Jack (standard burger, not bad, but behind the cheapo burgers available at McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King).

As I've noted here, it seems like BK has been casting about for successful items for years now, mostly with limited success, except for the Cheetos mac and cheese items that probably require a hefty licensing fee. According to Restaurant Business Online, BK is in a kind of weird spot. The chain is closing around 200 to 250 low-volume stores a year, but it is also opening 1,000 stores a year. The article notes that the company is growing in Russia, China and Latin America; I'd be shocked if much of the growth was in the U.S.

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