I know you have been waiting for over a week for this, so without giving too much away up-front, let me just say this trip was a real surprise. Let's get started.
Today's Taco Bell: NW 21st & Burnside
I used to go to this Taco Bell when I briefly lived in the Pearl, and I have to say, this is my least favorite location. It's a small building right off Burnside and the sign is obstructed by trees and it's really easy to miss. You might think you're headed to Taco Bell only to realize blocks later you're headed away from Taco Bell. I'm not sure there's anything sadder than an unvisited Taco Bell in your rearview mirror. You really gotta be on your game with this one.
Secondly, the drive-thru pushes you right back out onto Burnside, so there's no option to eat in the parking lot like a lady. A Taco Bell lady. The Lady of the Bell, if you will.
Service-wise, the woman on the other end of the intercom didn't hear me when I said "Grilled Stuft Burrito" and asked, "What?"
Not "Pardon me?" or "I didn't quite catch that -- could you kindly repeat your order?" Just "What?" So I repeated my order: Grilled Stuft Burrito with beef (NO guacamole or avocado ranch), side of chips & cheese, and a small Pepsi.
"That'll be $7.37 at the window please."
I'm sorry... what? (See what I did there? She said "what" then I said "what" -- that's what we in the business call a plot twist.)
Seriously though. I have never in my life paid $7.37 for this meal. In fact just last week at the Taco Bell across town, I paid $6.77 for this exact same meal. I'll be darned.
Did I ask about the price? No, I didn't want to interfere with the study. But you bet your sweet ass I'll be filling out the survey using the 16-digit survey code provided on my receipt as soon as I'm done typing up this blog post!
Location: Strike one. Price: Strike two. Only one strike left -- let's see about the food, shall we?
You remember how last time I said a bit of ingredient disparity is to be expected? Well even *I* have standards when it comes to burrito fillings, and this burrito did not meet those standards.
Look at this:
That is 95% beef. Where's my beans? My rice? My sour cream mixed with onion and tomato cubes? Hm? I was only three bites in before I had to turn this sucker over and look what I found on the other end:
That's right, 95% rice. Tortilla and rice does not a burrito make, my friends! So then I end up with this unmanageable pile. It was like trying to eat yogurt out of a toilet paper roll.
I threw that thing back in the bag and snacked on a few chips w/cheese as I drove home.
Bad move. A few minutes later I look down and notice burrito grease has seeped through the foil wrapper, past a napkin, through the protective paper bag and onto my dress.
That really chaps my hide! If that stain doesn't come out, I don't know what I'll do. I wear this dress on average once a week because it feels like pajamas but looks like a work outfit. How often does one come across such a precious item of clothing? Oh you know, just every ONCE IN A LIFETIME.
I bet you think this review can't get any worse. Well what I tell you next will make you flip a lid (foreshadowing):
I think they gave me a Diet Pepsi.
Now, I can't prove it. (There should be a thing where you can prove it!! A little dipstick or something. Science?) But you know how that very last second of a swig of diet soda tastes like weird chemicals, canceling out any sense of refreshment and basically ruining the soda experience entirely? Well that's what it tasted like. Strike three! Or four depending on if you counted the grease stain as a strike. I'm on the fence as to whether that's my fault or Taco Bell's fault.
Anyway, I ate about half my burrito pile, finished off the chips & cheese (no complaints), and this "Pepsi" is going down the sink.
Portland's rating: 3.0 ("Great place to go when your in a taco mood" and "tacos")
ambericaonline rating: 2 stars. Honestly, when I started this series, I thought I was going to give every Taco Bell 5 stars. I love Taco Bell! But this Taco Bell really let me down, and now that I've proven that I am not affected by research bias, this project has taken on a whole new level of seriousness and I just hope you all appreciate the gravity of what I'm doing here. This isn't just about burritos. It's about burritos with a side of chips & cheese. It's about integrity.
It's about burritos.
Well, see you in another week or so!