THE PRICE: Within the Seattle metro space, Taco Bell’s standard specialty ranges from $5.39 (on the Sodo franchise, amongst others) to $7.99 (in Decrease Queen Anne, aka Seattle’s Most Costly Taco Bell). The lower-case-and-two-separate-words-so-not-trademark-infringing model on the Latona Pub close to Inexperienced Lake will run you $16.
THE TACO BELL TASTE-TEST: Let me confess that I’d by no means earlier than consumed a Crunchwrap, Supreme or in any other case, and possess little life expertise with this explicit fast-food chain. I enlisted a Taco Bell fanatic for analysis help, and it was a very good factor I did, for my first Crunchwrap bites left me baffled as to its recognition.
There was a crunch — on the heart of this handheld food-disc lies a tostada. The opposite fillings gave the impression to be current — seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, iceberg lettuce, tomato and bitter cream make this a kind of reconfigured burrito. Which, after all, requires a wrap — a flour tortilla that, on this case, gave the impression to be the dominant taste, and fairly a uninteresting one.
I ate across the edges, considering the Crunchwrap’s legendary standing, and puzzled aloud: How a lot hashish does it take to search out this compelling consuming?
My analysis assistant gallantly stepped in, taking one chew and announcing this explicit specimen a colossal fail. Peeling the Crunchwrap open, a extreme dearth of beef grew to become immediately apparent; to not solid aspersions on the staff of Seattle’s Most Costly Taco Bell, however somebody was not performing at full Crunchwrap-construction capability.
A Crunchwrap Supreme obtained on the Sodo Taco Bell proved vastly superior. (It additionally value a 3rd much less; franchisees set their very own menu costs, with the Decrease Queen Anne location’s Crunchwrap rumored to have ranged as far up as $11, earlier than outrage apparently brought about one thing of a discount.) Whereas nothing right here sang of artisanal high quality, the creamy cheese sauce, gently seasoned floor beef, crunchy tostada-layer and heat, mushy flour tortilla wrapper held an comprehensible enchantment. The iceberg lettuce, whereas not including a lot general, stayed remarkably crisp. And whereas unhappy, watery, pale tomato-cubes had an disagreeable consistency and nil style, they stayed fortunately minimal.
The place my first-ever Crunchwrap Supreme had a definitive why-am-I-eating-this high quality, this one appeared completely defensible for a road-trip/late-night/stoned state of affairs. It additionally completed sturdy, with additional fillings squishing down into the previous few bites for added savor and a cumulative, if very faint, spiciness.
THE LATONA PUB TASTE-TEST: A few of the variations of this upscaled tackle the mass-market favourite could also be clocked instantly — the place the Taco Bell model’s pale exterior will get a swiftly mottled browning, the Latona’s larger, plumper magnificence appears to be like golden-toasted, and arrives topped with a fairly pile of iceberg shreds, bright-pink pickled crimson onion and recent leaves of cilantro. In the meantime, the inside will get loaded with fajita-style hen, housemade nacho cheese sauce and pico de gallo, a pure good friend to any tostada. Additionally: Full-fat bitter cream is deployed, whereas in an odd nod to healthiness, Taco Bell makes use of decreased fats.
Evaluating it as simply indulgent common meals, the Latona Pub crunch wrap is a convincing success, the medley of flavors and textures working in live performance, with the recent, oozy, salty cheese taking part in particularly nicely off the tang of the pickled-onion topping and the onion of the pico. My Taco Bell aficionado opined that the flavour right here extra intently resembles the chain’s hen quesadilla, which incorporates a three-cheese mix and a creamy jalapeño sauce. A later taste-test of that merchandise within the curiosity of thoroughness confirmed this, and additional analysis reveals that creamy jalapeño sauce is a well-liked (and good) improve to the Crunchwrap Supreme.
As stoner meals, the Latona Pub crunch wrap looks like it might be deliriously scrumptious, probably inducing synesthesia.
IN PRAISE OF THE CONCEPT AND BY WAY OF COMPARISON: I do know I’m extraordinarily late to the get together, however the Crunchwrap thought is genius: all of the greatness of a burrito, plus the tostada’s crunch as a super textural variation inside, with exterior grilling bringing all of it additional heat and visible attractiveness. Whereas the Latona Pub’s model has extra of that eye-candy issue, to carry a toasty, semicushy Taco Bell puck within the hand feels totally nice — with our present chilliness, you type of need to tuck one into every of your jacket pockets.
The Crunchwrap Supreme, introduced in a skinny paper envelope, would make for simple consuming within the automotive or strolling round. The Latona crunch wrap is served on an precise plate and, with its toppings and higher heft, is intrinsically messier — a knife and fork are supplied for good purpose.
When it comes to environment, you’re certainly paying extra for that on the Latona Pub, and there’s a lot extra of it. Open since 1987, it presents a traditional neighborhood-favorite feeling, pleasant and high-ceilinged; a beer nerd-approved faucet choice favoring native breweries; desk service; and, in contrast to each Taco Bells visited in the midst of this report, clear tables all through. Notice additionally that the Latona Pub recurrently hosts dwell music, and that this dwell music varies in fashion and could be awfully loud.
WORTH IT? In a phrase, sure. Each of those variations on this seeming gimmick obtain greater than that, after which some. Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme is cheap, broadly out there, and neat each conceptually and when it comes to tidy, transportable consuming; when made with out error, it’s additionally baseline tasty. Then the Latona Pub takes the idea and expands upon it, actually and figuratively, ending up with a brand new type of pub fare that, in its class, is certainly supreme.
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Meals author Bethany Jean Clement or one other reporter could attain out to you by way of e mail to request extra particulars.