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Bell breakfast missing ‘mas’

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published May 1, 2014 at 2:47 a.m.

taco-bells-breakfast-burrito-wraps-scrambled-eggs-a-little-cheese-and-a-choice-of-sausage-or-bacon

Taco Bell’s Breakfast Burrito wraps scrambled eggs, a little cheese and a choice of sausage or bacon.

Taco Bell’s erstwhile slogan “Run for the Border” provided fodder for comedians for a long time. But we suppose it’s no sillier than its current one, “Live Mas!” (And just what language is that, we wonder?)

It’s really too easy to scoff at Taco Bell, because, on the one hand it puts on a Mexican accent (remember that talking Chihuahua?) and on the other, it shies away as hard as it can from anything that could actually be identified as Mexican food.

(Favorite case in point: Some years ago the Bell offered what it called a “Quesarito,” basically some melted cheese rolled up in a tortilla. That must have sounded too authentic to somebody, because they subsequently changed it to “Cheesearito,” which was really embarrassing to order. The item is back on the menu, by the way, now “properly” identified as a “Cheese Roll-up.” Not bad, really, if you don’t mind paying more than a buck for a tortilla and less than 2 ounces of cheese.)

In typical Taco Bell fashion, the chain has gone into the intensifying fast-food breakfast business, serving not traditional Mexican breakfast items like Huevos Rancheros or even an attempted facsimile, but a menu of a Ameri-Mexican stuff that falls short on the flavor front, and doesn’t stand up particularly well to its fast-food chain competition.

It does have some inventive items we haven’t seen before - and a couple we hope we won’t see again.

Most of what we tried was bland, flabby or both.Our Sausage Breakfast Burrito ($1.79) was also ugly, although, as is far too common everywhere, nothing that came out of the “kitchen” looked nearly as appetizing as the pretty pictures on the menu board.

The only two advantages we can see to breakfasting at the Bell: It’s all designed for grab-and-go, with almost all the items consumable using one hand while driving to work if you can get ’em out of the boxes or wrappers. And it’s served until 11 a.m. - McDonald’s, for example, shifts over to burgers and fries at 10:30. (By the way, not all outlets serve breakfast. The TB/KFC hybrid on West Markham Street across from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences doesn’t.)

That burrito, the only true one-on-one menu comparison to McDonald’s, consisted of Taco Bell’s typically slightly rubbery tortilla, very mild sausage crumbles, a “double” portion of bland scrambled eggs and much less than the “lots of warm, melted cheddar cheese” the Taco Bell website (tacobell.com/food/menu/breakfast-menu) promises. Hopefully the bacon version packs a little more punch.

The most inventive thing on the menu is the Waffle Taco ($1.99), which isn’t nearly as good in execution as it sounds - a chewy, taco-shell shaped waffle, half-folded around either bacon or a large sausage patty, topped in turn by scrambled egg and a light layer of melted cheese. Unlike the copious glass jar of syrup you see on the menu board, we got a small plastic syrup cup, and we really needed it to combat the blandness. No mas, live or otherwise.

One thing had enough flavor to try again: the A.M. Crunchwrap (bacon or sausage, $2.69, steak $2.99), a tortilla shell folded into a purse-shape around, in our case, chopped bacon, scrambled egg, a visible amount of cheese, a hash brown cake and what the online menu says is “creamy jalapeno sauce” but looked, and tasted, more like a dollop of salsa. Anyway, it gave the package enough of a boost that we can recommend it.

Most breakfast items are also available as part of a combo with coffee or orange juice, choice of hash browns or a pair of little “pastries” coated in cinnamon and frosting that Taco Bell is calling Cinnabon Delights.

The coffee, by the way, is “Premium Rainforest Alliance certified” and “made with 100 percent Arabica beans,” according to the website, and it’s pretty good. You get a good-size insulated cup for $1.49.

Taco Bell breakfast

Address: Everywhere, but not all outlets serve breakfast Breakfast hours: 6:30-11 a.m.

Cuisine: Quasi-Mexican fast food Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V Alcoholic beverages: No Reservations: No Wheelchair accessible: Yes Carryout: Yes tacobell.com

Weekend, Pages 31 on 05/01/2014

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