I went to Taco Bell for the first time. The food was cheap but mediocre, and I don't feel like going back.


Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to a Taco Bell in Newcastle, northern England, to try out the chain's famous foods.

  • I went to Taco Bell for the first time and tried out a range of tacos, burritos, and desserts.
  • I loved the churros and the Volcano Burrito but was disappointed by the Crunchwrap Supreme.
  • The food was cheap but compared with other Tex-Mex restaurants, the flavors were bland.
It's only in the last couple of years that I discovered I love burritos and tacos. The pandemic made it hard for me to satisfy my cravings, although I tried burritos from a few local restaurants. I decided to finally go to Taco Bell for the first time to see how it stacks up against other Tex-Mex food I'd sampled.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Taco Bell I went to is in Newcastle, north England. The chain came to the UK in 2010 after failed launches in the 1980s and 1990s and now has nearly 90 restaurants across the region. The Newcastle restaurant opened in 2018.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Sources: BigHospitality, Taco Bell, The Chronicle

The restaurant is popular with students. With two large universities nearby, it wasn't a surprise to see an ad for a 15% student discount.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The restaurant seemed quiet, but I wasn't surprised given it was a Monday lunchtime.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

There's a row of digital ordering kiosks in the center. More and more restaurants have been rolling them out during the pandemic to encourage contactless ordering and help ease staff shortages.

Taco Bell Newcastle order kiosk
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Source: Insider

I was encouraged to download the Taco Bell loyalty app.

Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk order
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Of course, you can also order from a cashier, but I decided to use a kiosk.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Most of the tacos and burritos have a choice of three fillings – beef, grilled chicken, or black beans.

Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk order
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

It's very easy to customize dishes using the kiosk – which also makes it very easy to add to your order total. It wasn't quite the same as going to the other burrito bars in Newcastle, where you can watch your order being made and choose from a range of rice flavors, salsas, and salad fillings.

Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk order
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

While I waited for my order I looked at the decor. The store had some wall art and decorations that made it seem somewhat like a bar, like this neon lettering…

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

…and these pictures (can you guess what they spell out?).

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Some of the decor paid tribute to Taco Bell's California origins.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The fact it sold beer made it seem more like a bar. So I was surprised to hear Christmas songs being blasted out when I visited in late November. The music made it feel more like a family restaurant than the edgy eatery I'd thought Taco Bell was.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

These was a small waiting area for delivery drivers with a chair, table, and bucket.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I'm not sure what the bucket was for. During my time at the restaurant, I noticed lots of Uber Eats and Deliveroo drivers collecting orders.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

My order arrived in just under 10 minutes. This is slower than I've found with Burger King and McDonald's but I'd ordered lots of different items, so I wasn't surprised. I shared everything with a friend and saved some to eat the next day.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Most of the items were wrapped up, which would make it easier to eat on the go, but the Cinnamon Twists were packed in a box.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Some dishes, like the Quesadilla and the Crunchwrap Supreme, had their own special packaging.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

A lot of the wrappers had pictures on them with check boxes. I wasn't sure what they were for because none were marked.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I started off by trying the Cheesy Roll-up, one of the cheapest things on Taco Bell's menu at just £1 ($1.32).

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

It's a soft tortilla wrap containing Taco Bell's three-cheese blend. But the cheese hadn't melted, and I was disappointed.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

It wasn't just in the roll-up that the cheese hadn't melted. Most of the items I ordered had grated cheese in them that hadn't melted, which messed with the texture of the dishes.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I was intrigued by the Crunchwrap Supreme, which I'd ordered with grilled chicken. It had been heavily recommended by one of my friends and is known as one of Taco Bell's flagship items.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

There wasn't much chicken compared to the other ingredients. A lot of it seemed to be lettuce and sour cream. Pictures on Taco Bell's website show it bursting with protein filling and melted cheese, separated from the salad by a wall of nachos, but it didn't look as impressive in real life.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I was surprised that they had nachos for the Crunchwraps…

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

…given that signs stuck to the kiosks said the restaurant was out of nachos. Perhaps they only had a few left and wanted to prioritize the Crunchwraps.

Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk order
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Chalupa I had was overflowing with fillings, though there was much more lettuce, cheese, and tomato than black beans.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Chalupa tasted good. I liked the flavor of the black beans, and wished there had been more. It was quite small, and was basically a taco with a chewier shell, but at only £1.99 ($2.64) it's hard to complain.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I also tried Taco Bell's Quesadilla, which cost £3.99 ($5.28). It came cut into four slices and was a good size for the price.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I ordered mine with beef, and it was one of the few items where the cheese was gooey and melted. It didn't look good on the inside, but tasted great.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Unlike some of the other dishes I ordered, it wasn't bulked out with salad. It was supposed to contain creamy jalapeño sauce but I couldn't taste this at all.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I also tried two burritos. They weren't as big as burritos I'd got elsewhere, but were considerably cheaper.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Seven-Layer Burrito is still on the menu in the UK, even though it disappeared from US restaurants during the pandemic. The layers were hard to distinguish by eye, but it tasted good. At some burrito bars I've been to I've had to pay extra for guacamole, so I'm glad it came included with this one.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Source: Insider

The main thing the burrito was lacking was a bit of a kick, such as using salsa rather than diced tomatoes. At Taco Bell in the US some burritos are available in two versions, with one described as "spicy," but this wasn't the case in the Newcastle restaurant.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Volcano Burrito had plenty of kick, though. It's still available in the UK despite being axed from the US menu back in 2013, to the disappointment of fans of the chain's spiciest dish.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Source: Reddit

The Volcano Burrito cost £3.99 ($5.28), slightly more than the Seven-Layer Burrito (£3.29; $4.36). I ordered mine with chicken. It was delicious and had a lovely squidgy texture. Of everything I ordered, it definitely had the most flavor, and quite a strong aftertaste. I can't handle spice very well, but I smeared some guacamole on mine and was just about able to handle it.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I tried Taco Bell's fries, too. The chain isn't known for its fries and I was expecting them to be bad.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

But I was pleasantly surprised. The fries were really good. Taco Bell makes it clear that its Mexican Fries aren't meant to be like French fries, and to me they tasted like cheese and onion potato chips.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The fries were only £1 ($1.32) for a portion similar in size to what you'd expect at McDonald's – and they came with a small pot of Nacho Cheese Sauce, too.

Taco Bell fries
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I love cheese but the Nacho Cheese Sauce didn't hit the spot for me.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

It tasted artificial and though it was melted it was wet, thick, and gooey rather than stringy when I dipped my fries in. The guacamole was good but nothing exceptional.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

We tried some desserts, too. Taco Bell sells churros in the UK, which aren't currently available in the US. These are available in either two- or six-packs. I ordered a six-pack to share with friends, and was surprised that they still came individually packaged in pairs, and in a nacho bag.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The churros were delicious. They were beautifully soft and sprinkled with the perfect amount of sugar and cinnamon. And at £1 ($1.32) for a two-pack, they were really well-priced. I wouldn't be surprised if people popped into Taco Bell while out and about just to pick up some churros.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Each two-pack came with a small pot of dulce de leche, though these were less than half full. It tasted really good but I was surprised they didn't just give us one pot filled a bit higher.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

We ordered a large pack of Cinnamon Twists, which came in at £3.99 ($5.28). The portion was huge.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The Cinnamon Twists had a similar flavor to the churros – both were sugary and cinnamony – but an airy, crunchy texture that reminded me of a brand of potato chips I used to eat as a child.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I also took home a Crunchy Taco Supreme, which cost £1.99 ($2.64). Most other tacos I've bought were sold in threes. On its own, Taco Bell's taco was quite small and definitely not filling, but I liked how you could order the tacos separately and mix and match between fillings.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Inside, the taco was very similar to the Chalupa, and was the same price, too. Compared to a regular Taco Bell Crunchy Taco, the Supreme version cost £0.50 ($0.66) more but the only difference was that it came with sour cream and tomatoes.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Taco Bell was ultimately a mixed bag – some of the food like the Quesadilla, Volcano Burrito, and the desserts were delicious, while others didn't have much flavor. I'd expected more zest and spice from most of the dishes.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

I'd been very excited to try the Crunchwrap Supreme but it disappointed. Clearly some diners do love it, though, and the dish has become one of the brand's flagship foods.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

As for the cost, Taco Bell wasn't bad, with quite a few items available for £1 ($1.32) or £1.99 ($2.64).

Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk order
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

The restaurant offered 20% off your next visit if you gave feedback online.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Bottom line: I'd rather pay a little more elsewhere for food that has more flavor.

Taco Bell Newcastle
I went to Taco Bell for the first time.

Read the original article on Business Insider



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