Okay okay. We finally got around to reviewing this place. Finally.
Why did it take so long? Well, it appears that the first few weeks were a little…difficult. To call it hectic would be an understatement. It was pure pandemonium as innocent civilians witnessed people camping out on the lines before opening hours ready for their tacos. Reports indicate that the shop had first aid on hand just in case.
It was still bustling when we went in, but we managed to pull through.
So placing an order here requires picking your choice of taco/burrito/chalupa and then choosing your filling, sauces etc. Keep in mind that you might need to tell them to hold the sauce, though.
The Crunchy Taco with Crispy Fish and Smokey Chipotle sauce (Rs. 300) was yum enough to get nods of approval from all of us. It was a basic taco shell stuffed with a piece of excellently fried fish, bits of cheese, and oodles of chopped lettuce. The fish was the clear winner here as the crunch from the crust amplified the overall crunch from the entire taco, and the fish inside the batter was soft and well-flavoured.
The Classic Burrito Meal (Rs. 800) comes with a huge burrito with a filling of your choice, a soft drink and a side of either nachos or Mexican fries. The fries weren't available so we settled for the nachos by default.
We got the chicken fajita filling to go with the burrito and after one bite we went 'que?' because we couldn't taste anything beyond the sauce.
Looking past the excessive sauce I could visually detect lots of rice, huge chunks of chicken and vegetables. This would've made an excellent meal if only they went a little easy on their sauces. In fact, we tried some of Rajeev's 7 layer crispy fish burrito and it was pretty great (and larger than its US counterpart).
The Assorted Chicken Platter (Rs. 950) is an excellent portion for sharing because you get about five strips of crispy chicken, a chicken quesadilla (buried underneath in the photo) and a portion of nachos with cheese.
The chicken was a treat. It's got this magnificent crunch and tastes really good too. As expected it's a little on the oily side but it's certainly better than some other fried chicken outlet we know.
The quesadilla was good and had a rather large helping of melted cheese, but unfortunately featured that same ubiquitous chipotle sauce. The meat was scarce but if you're sharing this with a few other people you won't notice.
I feel like this deserves a little section of its own because there's a lot to talk about here.
Taco Bell is doesn't claim to serve up authentic Mexican food – but you'd expect a franchise that's trying to replicate Mexican cuisine to get the very basics right. While our nachos were cripsy, it lacked the distinct flavour of corn and savouriness that we expected.
The nachos that came with the platter had sprinklings of onion, green and red bell pepper bits. There was quite a generous amount of liquid cheese but por favor, give us the guac.
The fully loaded nachos were a bit better though, and came with liquid cheese (again), bits of pepper, onion, and minced chicken.
The Chocodilla (Rs. 200) was a mini-quesadilla, a little bigger than a pasthol, with a chocolate filling that tasted similar to Nutella. This is good for dessert, if you're going to have just one slice.
It's like you mixed water and apple flavour with a splash of Bitburger to feel like a badass. It makes for a good refreshment or a palate cleanser, but if you want real beer (and you're above 21), the Floor by O! is literally just a short walk away.
Service & Ambience
The outlet is quite pretty, with a bright and colourful theme. They've got an interestingly decorated wall outside (graffiti, of course). The interior is a little cramped with an unusually low ceiling, lots of soft lighting and incredibly loud music (maybe we're just too old). Of course we had to listen to Despacito on full blast and after the nachos all we could think of was despaci-don't.
Service is quick and efficient. Our food got to the table in about 5 minutes and we were checked on regularly. They messed up our drinks but it was only a light mishap- they were brought to us as soon as we informed them.
It seems like Taco Bell is going to thrive here in Sri Lanka. They've got an interesting range of flavours and lots of hot sauce. Go with a group and
maybe take a bat with you or something to fend off the crowd make sure you go during off-peak hours. When? We don't know, but good luck amigo.
Editor's Note: I checked out Taco Bell a day later and observed a few more things:
- The taco shells, chalupas, soft taco shells, and sauce are all brought down frozen from the closest supply chain, India. The chicken, fish, and vegetables are locally-sourced.The chalupas were delicious but could do with more meat filling.
- The drinks (the Strawberry Mojito & Irish Coffee) are tooth-achingly syrupy sweet but cheap at Rs. 200.
- There's no pork or beef, and there won't ever be – which is pretty different for anyone who is used to the US Taco Bell.
- It's halal (all meat is from Gill's).