French-Kissing with Nacho Cheese

Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

Taco Bell Beefy 5-Layer Burrito

I Paid: 89 cents for a 9-ounce burrito (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

The main innovation that Taco Bell’s Beefy 5-Layer Burrito brings to the table is wrapping a beef and sour cream burrito in an extra-soft tortilla concealing a protective jacket of nacho cheese sauce. That sauce is just about the only thing you’ll taste for the majority of the time you spend eating the burrito; you’ll feel, in fact, as if you’re basically French-kissing industrial-grade nacho cheese sauce. There you go: You’ve been thoroughly warned.

Considering that the burrito offers a pretty amazing cash-to-weight value—you get a 9-ounce pile of foodlike material for less than a buck—it would take a taste catastrophe for me to give this a bottom-of-the-barrel taste rating. But even at its blue plate special price, the Beefy 5-Layer Burrito manages to disappoint. In a nutshell, the dominant nacho cheese sauce is repugnant. It’s a bit slimy, overly salty, and tastes only remotely like actual cheese. Don’t be fooled by the shreds of “real cheddar cheese” that are also inside this burrito. The timeless chemical wonder that is the nacho sauce is all you’ll taste until you hit a large enough mouthful of ground beef to counterbalance its impact.

The Beefy 5-Layer Burrito ends with a salty flavor that will linger in your mouth for a full 15 minutes after you’ve finished the thing. It’s an epic modern tragedy that numerous cows died to bring us this burrito. That said, each 89-cent, 550-calorie burrito does give you 1,640 milligrams of sodium, which is a solid two-thirds of your daily requirement of that valuable nutrient.

If you’d like to read a thoughtful contrary opinion, the blog Epic Portions tasted the same burrito and declared it “the perfect fast food menu item.” Much—no, everything—seems to come down to your assessment of Taco Bell’s nacho cheese sauce formula. If you love it, you’ll love this. If you’ve got functional taste buds, you probably won’t.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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