Westword's Review of Taco Bell's Birria, Plus Local Restaurants For the Real Thing | Westword

Taste Test: Taco Bell Releases New Item Inspired by Birria, and We Tried It

Emphasis on the phrase "inspired by."
Taco Bell's Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco.
Taco Bell's Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco. Katrina Leibee
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Taco Bell introduced its new Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco featuring slow-braised shredded beef on August 3. In trendier terms, it now offers birria — Taco Bell style.

A traditional birria taco involves slow-braised meat inside and cheese cooked onto the outside of the shell. The taco is then dipped in the broth used to cook the meat and a variety of other sauces. Taco Bell's version is filled with slow-braised beef with a blend of spices and jalapeño sauce; cheddar, mozzarella and pepper Jack cheese are grilled onto a white-corn shell. The Taco Bell taco comes with two dipping sauces: nacho cheese and "zesty" red sauce.

Expectations for the taco were low, considering Taco Bell is in the middle of a lawsuit after being accused of falsely advertising its infamous Crunchwrap Supreme. The suit was filed in the Eastern District of New York and claims that the chain overstates how much beef a customer is actually receiving in the Crunchwrap.

While the Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco probably isn't going to get the chain in any legal trouble, its physical appearance is still much different from its online picture.

The slow-braised beef was surprisingly good: spicy, tender and definitely reminiscent of classic birria. The rest of the taco fell flat, unfortunately. While no one expects the authentic flavors of Jalisco, Mexico (birria's home state) at a chain taco joint, the least it can do is fully grill the cheese on a grilled cheese dipper.

Instead, the cheese was reminiscent of the shredded stuff you get in a bag at the grocery store, and most of it was barely melted, much less grilled. Shreds kept falling off as I ate the taco.

While Taco Bell says that there is jalapeño sauce inside the taco, I wouldn't have known it if I hadn't read the description. Some fresh jalapeño would have elevated the taste a lot.

The biggest disappointments, though, were the dipping sauces that came with the taco. The nacho cheese version lacked flavor. As for the "zesty" red sauce, I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be spicy or not — but it just tasted like oil.

This taco might make for a nice cure for the munchies or a handy meal after a night of drinking, but if you're looking for real birria, skip it.

Want to get a taste of traditional birria in the metro area? Here are our suggestions:

Birrieria Y Taqueria Los Tecos, 7353 Pecos Street
Catrina Mexican Grill Burrito, 3454 South Broadway, Englewood
El Consome De Morelos (food truck), 4888 West Colfax Avenue
Hell's Tacos (food truck), 990 Federal Boulevard
Kiké's Red Tacos, 1200 West 38th Avenue
Pancho’s Birria y Mas (food truck), 6401 West Alameda Avenue, Lakewood
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