First look: Cool Ranch Doritos Tacos Locos launches in Denver
Are they as good as the hype?
When was the last time you've uttered these words: "Thank effin god for the Colfax Avenue Taco Bell?" Probably never, and I'd never said them myself -- until yesterday, when I learned that this location at 1775 East Colfax was one of the rare locations that actually had the new Cool Ranch Doritos Tacos Locos.
While other stores across the country were being bombarded by customers who'd been told by Taco Bell's Facebook posting that the Cool Ranch Doritos Tacos Locos were available everywhere, I was hurrying to Colfax, where I grabbed hold of my first Cool Ranch Doritos-shelled taco.
Did it live up to the year-long hype?
Look at the Cool Ranch magic dust on the shell!
I had been over-eagerly anticipating the Cool Ranch tacos to the point of immature foot-stomping, and more than once I'd given in to my frustration on Facebook, all-caps screaming things like "GIMME THE DAMN TACOS!" and "JUST TAKE MY FUCKING MONEY ALREADY!" -- tired of Taco Bell's turbo-hyped advertising and extended delay of the release. And apparently I wasn't the only one -- I dunno if I should feel better or worse about that -- who wanted them right the hell now.
Taco Bell introduced its Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos last year, and they were a runaway hit, according to Taco Bell CEO Greg Creed, with sales of the specialty tacos accounting for about a quarter of all taco sales. A Doritos Locos Taco costs $1.39, while a regular taco costs 99 cents, but fans were willing to pay the differential -- and maybe even more for a Cool Ranch taco.
And yesterday Taco Bell finally made the Cool Ranch flavor available, touting the release on Facebook -- but failing to tell folks it only applied to certain stores. The outrage was so loud that Taco Bell -- which is owned by Kentucky-based Yum Brands -- finally apologized, saying it was "humbled by the overwhelming response" and promising that Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos will be available everywhere today.
And a new Mountain Dew Baja Blast freeze to wash them down.
But thanks to a friend who who actually hid in the bathroom at work to tip me off to the tacos' appearance on Colfax, I've already tried them. When I phoned the store about 2:30 p.m. yesterday, I was told, "Oh, yeah, we got 'em, come on in!," and was out the door even as I was still yanking on my clothes.
The four-minute drive seemed endless, but the store was mercifully un-busy, and I ordered three Cool Ranch Doritos Tacos Locos and one of those new Mountain Dew Baja Blast freezy/slurpy things to go with them.
Biting into the first CRDLT was a lot like the first time I ate Taco Bell as a child. It wasn't like having tacos at home -- just unwrapping the paper to get a lapful of lettuce and stray cheese shreds was a thrill that couldn't be reproduced. And these new tacos were absolutely everything I hoped they'd be: the same delicious, greasy, mostly-meat filling; the same unwieldy lettuce -- but the shell was an exercise in fast-food technology perfection, light, crisp and powdered with the red- and green-colored magic dust that coats Cool Ranch Doritos.
These are much better than the regular nacho cheese-shelled tacos, which I like well enough. But the unmistakably harmonious pairing of Cool Ranch Doritos and taco filling is what really put these tacos over the top. It's the best idea Taco Bell geniuses have ever had, aside from putting refried beans in a Styrofoam cup and making them sexy with red sauce and cheese.
The Baja Blast freeze was pretty good, too, even though it's no more special than what you get from the machines at 7-Eleven. The characteristic slightly flat, sea water green, too-fruity Mountain Dew is spun with ice and whets the appetite for more tacos.
After stuffing down three tacos and ordering another three to go, I asked the nearest employee if the Cool Ranch taco shells were made in-house or came already made, and he confirmed it was the latter.
"Awww...that's too bad," I replied. "I was hoping for a Cool Ranch tostada or nachos at some point."
He laughed and promised, "We'll get there."
I hope we get there faster than the endless span it took to release the new DLTs. But in the meantime, I'll be satisfied just eating these until I die from high blood pressure, in a Taco Bell parking lot, with EMTs prying the remains of a Cool Ranch Doritos Tacos Locos from my cold, dead mouth.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.