Ah, I return to the place this all began, in a way. I used this Taco Bell back in 2011 as a test subject to see what my blog posts would look like as I started work on Eating Through Roseville. More than 270 posts (including this blog) later, here I am again. Like most places in Rancho, timing is everything for lunch. I arrived right at about 11 and had a perfect view of the building, with no cars in the drive thru, and there were just two others inside once I sat down. Fast forward a few minutes and there is a line to the door.
I didn’t really look at the menu before coming here so I had to rely on the menus there above the register (which as I’ve found more and more recently, often just show the highlights and whatever Mark from Marketing is pushing that month). What I found was a pretty typical looking Taco Salad (A crispy tortilla bowl filled with marinated all-white-meat chicken, and loaded with chunky beans, real cheddar cheese, premium Latin rice, crisp shredded lettuce, diced ripe tomatoes, red tortilla strips, reduced-fat sour cream and served with Cantina salsa on the side.), but also something they called the Cantina Chicken Power Bowl (100% marinated and fire-grilled white meat chicken, crisp romaine lettuce, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, flavorful avocado ranch dressing, real cheddar cheese, and cool reduced-fat sour cream, all served on a bed of premium Latin rice and slow-simmered black beans)[$4.99]. I decided to go with the Cantina salad and added a medium soda for $1.89 to complete my order. I was barely done snapping the lid onto my drink when my name was called out from the counter (well, it was something resembling my name, but I’ve heard them all). I grabbed my tray, collected a couple napkins, a fork and took a seat.
While the size was not that impressive, at least the price matched. What I was surprised by was how nice the guacamole looked. It was definitely not your run of the mill fast food guac. Hell, it looked better than a lot of taquerias’ guac. Nice work, Taco Bell, very nice work. It has been said by many, and is for the most part very true, that Taco Bell is the master of taking a handful of ingredients and making dozens of different items with the same ingredients in different configurations. All their food kind of tastes the same. In this salad it was no different. Somehow, I swear I thought I was tasting their signature seasoned beef, but I believe, after some experimental bites with only specific ingredients, it was just actually the dressing. Either way, even though that was kind of a strange thing to think you’re eating, the salad was overall quite good. The rice and black beans were both very warm, almost hot and the chicken was warm and tender. The guac was as good as it looked, thick and flavorful. The cheese, although not in great quantity, really came through each bite in terms of flavor. To be honest I’ve never really had anything that I didn’t like here. I guess that statement still holds true. I think Demolition Man had it right, Taco Bell will win the Franchise Wars. I’d totally have this again.