Sunday, May 17, 2009

Del Taco Review: A Step Above Rival Taco Behemoth

Del Taco is back. After pulling out of the Orlando market in the 80s, the California-based chain is back and ready, willing, and able to take on its chief rival, Taco Bell.

I visited their newly-opened Red Bug Road location in Oviedo and was immediately impressed. From my experience, I’d say Del Taco is serious about taking market share from its rival fast food taco behemoth.

The location, in a remodeled Fazoli’s, has a spacious, comfortable, and contemporary interior. It’s one of the nicest looking fast food interiors I’ve seen. The tables are large enough to accommodate larger families, and there is a nice play area for children. Unlike most fast food dining rooms, I wouldn’t mind spending more than a few minutes in the attractive space.

The menu was full of typical Mexican fast food staples: tacos (with various shells and fillings), burritos, nachos, and the like. Unlike Taco Bell, however, the Del Taco menu featured a few American fast food staples like burgers and fries. It seems weird at first, but the inclusion of fries with the combo meals was a welcome addition.

I ordered a #11 ($5.39), which included a Del beef burrito, regular taco, fries and a drink. The fries were great, in fact, my favorite kind: crinkle cut. The beef burrito was smallish, and filled with generic seasoned ground beef. It was no better than one you might heat up in a microwave at home or enjoy at the local 7-eleven. The menu claimed cheddar cheese and red sauce were also ingredients in the burrito, but I didn’t see or taste anything but mushy ground beef.
The taco was better. The shell was crunchy, with a nice corn taste, and the lettuce and sprinkle of cheese was fresh tasting. The taco meat, however, was no better than the burrito meat: gummy and tasteless.

My amigo chose combo #8 ($6.09), which included two “Big Fat” tacos, fries and a drink. The “Big Fat” tacos were larger than the regular tacos, and were served on flat bread. To my eyes, they looked much better than the burrito and taco on my tray.

After our combo meals, we were still a little hungry, so we split a Macho Nacho ($3.79). Larger than what you find at Taco Bell, the Macho Nacho included a large pile of crispy nacho chips piled with refried beans, that gummy taco meat, sour cream, diced tomatoes, and jalapenos. The nachos were much better than what you find at a typical bowling alley, and a step above Taco Bell, but well below anything you’d find at even the worst sit-down Mexican restaurant.

When I visited Del Taco, the restaurant was packed. My order number was 58, and they were serving 24. The dining room was full, and people were circling about with trays, an eye out for an open table. Service was friendly, but not exemplary. I saw the manager on duty in the kitchen, and she was hustling orders, obviously overwhelmed with the customer count.

Will the people be back? Hard to say, but I don’t think they’ll be back for the food.

Wait, sure they’ll be back for the food. What other choice do they have, Taco Bell?

3 Fast-Food-Taco-Behemoth Slayers out of 5

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akeorlando said...

I ate at a Del Taco in Las Vegas a couple of years ago, and they are YUMMY! I'm excited we now have one here, although I wish it were located a little closer to downtown.

Minor-Gross said...

Del taco was around years ago. Much better than Taco Hell. Well it used to be. I will have to check this out.

Anonymous said...

this blog is punkin yours