ByS.G. Howe/May 23, 2023 12:46 pm EST
When the hankering for a greasy brown bag full of marginally acceptable but still a bit suspect Tex-Mex-adjacent fast food sets in, which chain are you pulling up at? Taco Bell, with its commanding nationwide presence, is certainly the easier brand to find and establish loyalty with for most Americans.
But in about half of the states in the U.S., the Live Más chain has to face some stiff competition in the form of Taco John's. This smaller Midwestern chain is known for more than being notoriously stingy with its "TacoTuesday" phrase trademark. Fans will likely rave about Taco John's' famous crispy potato rounds known as Potato Olés, or its yummy cinnamon-sugar Mexican donut bites.
Is the reputation surrounding this taco slinger from America's heartland well-earned, or a bunch of bloated hype? Between Taco John's and Taco Bell, the better chain depends on what you're looking for. Is your goal to find the best tacos, the best value, or the most easily obtainable food? In this review, we pit the two chains against one another in a battle of the breakfasts — is Taco John's or Taco Bell better at morning grub? Here's what we learned.
Who makes the better burrito?
A good breakfast burrito is nothing less than the holy grail of breakfast food, so it needs to be done right. As we saw when we bisected burritos from each chain, we're dealing with some very different construction approaches here. The Taco John's burrito was assembled in such a way that all of the bites on the left were full of egg, while the bites on the right were 100% bacon. The distribution needs some work. Perhaps the burrito from Taco Bell could lead by example with its much more homogenous mixture of fillings.
In terms of taste, the burritos are nearly identical. The ingredients in each are apparently the same, except Taco Bell's grande toasted bacon breakfast burrito has tomatoes. Those weren't in big enough pieces or great enough abundance to contribute much flavor, though. Since the taste was a draw, neither brand won points there.
When we looked at burrito size, it's clear that the Taco John's product is a fatter 'rrito. But the Taco Bell burrito is toasted on the grill, so the tortilla does have a nice crunch. That means just one point for TJ's and two for Taco Bell — winner, winner!
Who has the better potatoes?
It's a very poorly-kept secret that the Potato Olés from Taco John's are nothing short of iconic. If you aren't familiar with them, these little discs of starchy heaven are deep-fried, then tossed in seasoned salt. It's also a common Midwestern custom toorder a cup of nacho cheese alongside the Olés. For many, the only acceptable way to enjoy these bad boys is by immediately giving them a dunk in the hot cheese, then popping them in your mouth while the fryer grease inside is still sizzling (the burns are worth it). Potato Olés come in three sizes, but even in a small order, you are given a miniature mountain of potatoes.
Meanwhile, at Taco Bell, you can get a standard hash brown patty that's similar to what you'd get with breakfast from other fast food drive-throughs. Our Taco Bell patty didn't appear to be seasoned with anything other than salt (although we thought it was the perfect amount) and was a bit on the soggy side. Taco Bell does also have nacho cheese sauce available, which in our experience is a bit more viscous, less flavorful, and more artificial-tasting than the nacho sauce at Taco John's. In the category of potatoes, Taco John's easily takes the win.
Who makes the better quesadilla?
We compared the new meat and potatoes quesadilla, made with steak, from Taco John's to a steak breakfast quesadilla from Taco Bell. The most significant difference is the lack of egg in the Taco John's quesadilla, but the bites of steak were also quite distinct. There needed to be about four times as much beef in the Taco Bell quesadilla, but what steak we did get was way more tender and flavorful than the same sort of meat found in the Taco John's 'dilla.
On the other hand, it could be the blend of cheese that drowned out the TJ's steak. The cheeses — which are a blend of Monterey jack, cheddar, asadero, and queso fresco — were tasty. Yet they were also pungent and intense enough to steal the spotlight on the palate, overshadowing the steak. The Potato Olés in the quesadilla were too sparse, as well, and with the lack of egg, inadequate potatoes, and overwhelming cheese, the TJ's quesadilla just didn't stand a chance against the equivalent menu item from Taco Bell.
Who makes the better breakfast sweets?
There is no better way to wrap up that greasy, cheesy mess of drive-through breakfast food than with a carby sweet treat. At TacoBell, those would be the Cinnabon Delights, little doughy spheres injected with cream cheese frosting and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Meanwhile, at Taco John's, there are the Mexican Donut Bites, which are similar to sopapillas but served with cream cheese frosting instead of honey.
This was a tough call to make because the truth is that we had two fine dessert specimens in front of us. But there were some key distinctions. The primary issue is that Taco Bell's menu board image of the Cinnabon Delights fooled us. These Cinnabon Disappointments aren't bursting with a core of cream cheese at all, and we found that the pea-sized dollop of icing in ours was a massive let-down. The Taco Bell sweets were also a bit doughy.
The Mexican donut bites, on the other hand, were light, airy, and came with a generous pour of frosting. The Cinnabon Delights cost around a dollar per dough ball (we purchased the two-pack for $1.99), while the Mexican donut bites were less than 40 cents each at $2.29 for six donut bites.
Who has the bigger menu?
Let's look at the TacoBell menu first. There are two burrito types, cheesy and grande, both of which are grilled for a toasty tortilla. The cheesy burritos contain egg, a protein of choice (bacon or sausage), and cheese, while the grande adds tomatoes and potatoes, the option to upgrade to steak, and more filling overall. Then there are the Taco Bell breakfast crunchwraps, which come in California, bacon, and sausage varieties. There are three quesadilla flavors, too: sausage, bacon, and steak. Taco Bell also serves hot or iced Cinnabon coffee.
At Taco John's, there are more burrito varieties, namely the Scrambler, meat and potato, and spicy chorizo. The Scrambler is filled with eggs, cheese, Potato Olés, tomato and onion, a protein of choice, and poblano peppers. The meat and potato burrito is all of the above, minus tomato, onion, and peppers. In the spicy chorizo, you get, of course, spicy chorizo sausage, jalapeños, nacho cheese, and salsa. There's no burrito even close to that at the Bell. All of these burritos can be made into a smaller "junior" version.
While the TJ's quesadilla options sort of fall short — there's a double beef and potato quesadilla — the chain wins redemption with the Potato Olés Scrambler, a bowl of potatoes topped with eggs, tomato and onion, poblano peppers, meat, and cheese.
Burrito variety is Taco John's' strength, but Taco Bell has more unique items, so we yield the win to the latter.
Whose breakfast is better for you?
It isn't likely that anyone rolls up to a Taco John's or a Taco Bell expecting to make sound nutritional decisions. But how bad can a brown bag full of West-Mex (as Taco John's calls its food)breakfast goodies be? At Taco John's, the answer may make you cringe.Admittedly, the Sausage Potato Olé Scrambler from TJ's is a bit of a calorie bomb, clocking in at 1,140 plus 79 grams of fat. Nutrition information for the whole Taco John's menu shows similar trends — although few other breakfast items break 1,000 calories, the regular-sized burritos all easily surpass 300, and that's without drinks or sides.
Meanwhile, nothing on the Taco Bell breakfast menu will cost you more than 1,000 calories on its own — well, unless you eat a 12-pack of Cinnabon Delights all by yourself. Items such as quesadillas and burritos tend to bounce around in the mid-300s to high 500s range for calories, while Crunchwraps will run you a bit more thanks to the inclusion of a hash brown patty.
Taco Bell caught attention several years ago when it worked to strengthen the nutritional component of its products, even going so far as to get its vegetarian menu approved by the American Vegetarian Association. It also reduced its overall sodium content by 15%, opted to use only cage-free eggs, and axed artificial ingredients. While neither chain is the epitome of health food, Taco Bell emerges as marginally healthier than Taco John's.
Which chain has the better breakfast hours?
There's nothing worse than rolling up hungry to a drive-thru, only to discover that the greasy heap of breakfast food that you've been craving all morning is no longer available. That's especially true if you've missed the buzzer by just a few minutes and are so close to that steak burrito that you can practically taste it.
In the category of breakfast hours, our two competitors are tied. Fortunately for cheap West-Mex fast food fans, the breakfast party at both Taco John's and Taco Bell lasts all morning.
At Taco Bell, most locations fire up the griddles at 7 a.m. and sling quesadillas until 11 a.m. Taco John's fans needn't fret, either, even if they wake up a bit late. The smaller Midwestern chain will serve you the most important meal of the day from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. at most locations, too.
Whose breakfast is the better value?
At each location, we purchased one bacon burrito, one steak quesadilla, one potato side, and one sweet side. The price for all this at Taco John's was almost double the price at Taco Bell, at roughly $22 compared to $11. However, the TacoJohn's burrito was a bit bigger, there were tons more Potato Olés than there were Taco Bell hash browns, and we got six donut bites compared to just two Cinnabon Delights.
The quesadilla at Taco John's that we purchased is frankly overpriced at $6.99, especially compared to the much better quesadilla that cost only $4.29 at Taco Bell. Taco John's combos are a bit expensive, too, with a burrito combo (that comes with a small order of Potato Olés, plus a drink) being over $10 even for a small.
Over at Taco Bell, the value of the Bell Breakfast Box really can't be beaten. For $5.49, the box includes a medium drink, a breakfast Crunchwrap, an order of hash browns, and a couple of Cinnabon Delights. There really isn't any sort of combo at Taco John's that compares to this, and since most items at Taco Bell are generally cheaper than their equivalents at Taco John's, this category's win goes to the Bell.
Whose breakfast is more widely available?
Statistically speaking, you are much more likely to run into a Taco Bell than you are a Taco John's. Currently, there are a whopping 15,638 Taco Bell locations across the United States. That means that no matter what state you're in, there's a Taco Bell — especially for the residents of California, Texas, and Florida. These three states host most of these fast food restaurants compared to the rest. Houston, Texas boasts the most Taco Bell locations of anyAmerican municipality, with an incredible 128 Taco Bells within the city.
Taco John's locations are decidedly more sparse. There were just 374as of late April 2023.Minnesota alone claims 16% of that number, followed by Iowa and South Dakota. You are simply out of luck if you live in many other states in the U.S. and hope to get your hands on some Taco John's.
Overall, which restaurant has the better breakfast?
It's tough to make a final call between these two fast food restaurants since each brand's food was tasty enough to order again.In tallying up all of the points, we found that Taco Bell has better quesadillas and burritos, more availability, a more diverse menu, better value, and healthier ingredients. Taco John's only took the win in our potato and sweets competitions. While it has a loyal following for its delicious, salty potato rounds, Taco John's lacks the core elements needed for a strong breakfast.
Yet, to make a verdict based on taste alone, TacoJohn's would win. Its cheese is superior, its potatoes are well-seasoned, and its quesadilla was intense yet flavorful. The Mexican donut bites, when hot and fresh, are divine.
But when aggregating all of the points we've covered, it's clear that Taco Bell has the better breakfast. The chain's food is cheaper, with more abundant locations, and can give you enough breakfast food for under $20 to feed a small army — or a minivan full of kids.
Why is Taco Bell apologizing for its previous breakfast menu? ›
Taco Bell is apologizing for its breakfast menu. In recent years, it has been littered with questionable foods, such as the Naked Egg Taco or even the Waffle Taco, that have since been discontinued. Turns out, people just want the basics and the chain is finally accepting that.Why do some Taco Bell not have breakfast? ›
Taco Bell had limited its breakfast hours, particularly because individuals were not on the roads commuting to work due to the pandemic, meaning breakfast sales declined, according to Nation's Restaurant News.Is Taco Bell apologizing for its breakfast menu? ›
(CNN) - Taco Bell is apologizing for its old breakfast menu. The chain said it appears people want basics for breakfast, and menu items like the naked egg taco or even the waffle taco were anything but. Those order options are gone, and the company has a new ad campaign promising it won't go that crazy again.Is Taco Bell or McDonald's breakfast better? ›
Taco Bell came out on top with its budget-friendly and delicious burritos, while McDonald's fell short with a small, artificial-tasting, cheese-filled tortilla.What was Taco Bell sued for? ›
The lawsuit, filed last week in federal court in California, claims calling Taco Bell's filling "seasoned beef" is false advertising. The suit alleges the meat mixture has binders and extenders and does not meet federal requirements to be labeled beef.Why is Taco Bell giving away free breakfast burritos? ›
To ensure that no one is sleeping on its breakfast menu, Taco Bell is giving consumers a craveable reason to celebrate in the form of a free Toasted Breakfast Burrito at Taco Bell restaurants nationwide on October 21 from 7-11 AM (local time), while supplies last*.What's the most popular item at Taco Bell? ›
Outside of the relative dominance of the Crunchwrap Supreme and Quesarito, there was a wide variety among many U.S. states. Eleven states had unique favorite menu items that no other state chose, like Michigan and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch, or Mississippi and Cinnamon Twists.Can you get normal food during Taco Bell breakfast? ›
According to its website, Taco Bell's breakfast is not available outside of its designated time frame. Whether you want breakfast or regular menu items, the good news is you don't have to leave the comfort of your home.Did Taco Bell discontinue breakfast? ›
Taco Bell was among the chains that has limited their breakfast service (among other items) over the past year-plus. But for anyone who has been craving breakfast burritos, good news: The Tex-Mex chain announced today that breakfast is being restored at the majority of their locations.Why am I still hungry after Taco Bell? ›
According to The Washington Post, eating at a fast-food chain like Taco Bell causes our insulin to spike while our blood sugar drops. This quick dive in blood sugar makes us feel that extra hunger, even after we eat a ton of tacos. Here are 9 Warning Signs You're Not Eating Enough Fiber.
What did Taco Bell remove from its menu? ›
Starting on April 19, Taco Bell customers will no longer be able to purchase the Quesarito which has been a menu staple since it debuted in 2014, The Takeout reported.Who is the Taco Bell breakfast guy? ›
Known for his night owl days on Saturday Night Live, Pete Davidson is now embracing early mornings — and tasty breakfasts. On Thursday, Taco Bell unveiled a new commercial with Davidson in which he plays a "toned down version" of himself named Peter Davidson, all while promoting the new California breakfast crunchwrap.What fast-food sells the most breakfast? ›
Somewhat unsurprisingly, McDonald's all-day breakfast is No. 1 by far, taking the top spot in 49 of the 50 states. No one can resist hitting up the drive-thru for McDonald's egg McMuffin, hashbrowns or McGriddle.What percent of Taco Bell meat is real? ›
We use 100 percent USDA premium beef in our seasoned beef. We prepare it much the same way you prepare taco meat at home: after simmering, it is drained of excess fat and pre-seasoned with our signature blend of 7 authentic seasonings and spices.Why are people boycotting Taco Bell? ›
In 2001, the CIW launched the boycott of Taco Bell, calling on the fast-food giant to take responsibility for human rights violations in their supply chain, to improve wages and working conditions by passing on a penny-per-pound pay increase to the workers, and to buy only from Florida growers who passed this penny per ...Did Taco Bell get caught using horse meat? ›
Fast food giant Taco Bell said Friday it has taken beef off the menu in its three UK outlets after tests on ground beef from a European supplier revealed traces of horse meat. The discovery of rogue horse meat in a wide range of beef products has thrown the European meat industry into disarray in recent weeks.Can you get anything free from Taco Bell? ›
It's Taco Bell's customer loyalty program. It's pretty simple – when you make eligible purchases through your Taco Bell account, you'll earn points to unlock free items and special offers. You'll also gain exclusive and early access to new products and other surprises along the way!Does Taco Bell give workers free food? ›
Free snacks, drinks and bagel & donut Fridays. Onsite childcare through Bright Horizons. Onsite dining center and game room (yes, there is a Taco Bell inside the building) Onsite dry cleaning, laundry services, carwash.Did Mcdonald's get rid of their burrito? ›
Launched in 2007, the burrito included eggs, sausage, skillet potatoes, cheese, peppers, onions, and salsa roja. The McSkillet Burrito was quietly discontinued in 2010 never to be seen again.
One of Taco Bell's most expensive items was also a bowl with extra steak. The brand's Power Menu Bowl, which I ordered with extra steak, light black beans, light guacamole, and light avocado ranch sauce, cost $10.78.
What is the cheesiest thing at Taco Bell? ›
The Quesalupa brings cheese to every bite
The phenomenally cheesy phenom has returned. Simply put, this is the cheese-per-bite perfection Taco Bell fans have been waiting for.
Breakfast Soft Taco'ish
Sure, it's kind of a taco, but it's also kind of a quesadilla. As a flat, folded breakfast filled with eggs, your choice of bacon or sausage and real cheddar cheese, it's also kind of an omelette, we guess.
Digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.Is Taco Bell the healthiest fast food? ›
1. Taco Bell: Fresco Crunchy Taco. According to TODAY, “[Fresco-style] eliminates the cheeses and sour cream and substitutes tomatoes.” That's why it lands in the top spot for Taste of Home: “Coming in at 150 calories, 8 grams of fat and 370 milligrams of sodium, this is one of the healthiest fast-food items available.What discontinued items are Taco Bell bringing back? ›
In March, Taco Bell announced plans to resurrect one of two items from its not-too-distant menu: the Beefy Crunch Burrito, made with seasoned beef, sour cream, rice and Fritos Flamin' Hot corn chips; or the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco, which comes in a taco shell seasoned with Doritos Cool Ranch flavoring.Did Taco Bell get rid of pintos and cheese? ›
Taco Bell also quietly removed Pintos & Cheese from the menu in 2019 — although you may still be able to order it off menu if you're nice about it.Why does my stomach feel weird after eating Taco Bell? ›
The problem is that the food at Taco Bell is often high in fat and salt, and the ingredients can be difficult to digest. The combination of these factors can cause problems like bloating, nausea, indigestion, and heartburn.Why do I feel lazy after eating fast food? ›
Carbohydrates are generally quickly digested/absorbed into glucose (or energy). This raises your blood sugar and thus, energy. However, because they are so quickly digested and absorbed, your blood sugar will also fall quickly leading you to potentially feel fatigued.Why do I get lazy after eating a big meal? ›
Fatigue after a meal can be a normal response to the energy demand of digestion. Or it can signal dramatic spikes and drops in glucose (sugar) and insulin and/or insulin resistance. Refined carbohydrates and fatty foods are the biggest contributors to post-meal fatigue.What is Taco Bell bringing back in 2023? ›
Taco Bell's 2023 fan vote winner is the Beefy Crunch Burrito, which fans can now expect to head back to menus in August. The Beefy Crunch Burrito received a whopping 60% of the more than 950,000 votes and will return to Taco Bells nationwide for a limited time this summer.
Why did Taco Bell remove potatoes? ›
Why did Taco Bell take potatoes off the menu? Taco Bell took potatoes off the menu for a period of time due to menu simplification efforts in 2020.Why did Taco Bell remove potatoes from their menu? ›
In order to alleviate the pressure on its operations and help get customers through the drive-thru quickly, it made some menu cuts. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare the potato bites, Matthews said, so they had to go.Who is apologizing for Taco Bell? ›
Pete Davidson Apologizes on Behalf of Taco Bell for Going Too Far With Breakfast Innovation.Who is the Taco Bell apology guy? ›
The new advertisement, featuring Pete Davidson, focused on the fast food chain's breakfast menu, where the comedian claimed that the brand went too far with some of the items it offered, which is why they had hired him to make an apology for the same. In the advertisement, Pete Davidson said: “Sometimes we go to far…Who is the Taco Bell mascot? ›
|Born||GidgetFebruary 7, 1994 United States|
|Died||July 21, 2009 (aged 15) Santa Clarita, California|
Eggs Benedict, USA
This classic breakfast dish originated in New York City, and includes a few of Americans' great loves: English muffins, eggs, ham, and rich, buttery Hollandaise sauce. You can now find eggs Benedict served throughout much of the Western world, and it's almost always good.
1. Eggs. A breakfast without eggs is hardly a breakfast at all.What is the most satisfying breakfast? ›
Oats, milk, nuts and dried fruit will power you with hunger-fighting protein, fat and fiber for a busy morning. Research substantiates the important role oats play in digestion, as well as their impact on heart health through lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol.What fast food uses fake meat? ›
- KFC: Beyond Fried Chicken Nuggets.
- Burger King: Impossible™ Whopper.
- Starbucks: Impossible Breakfast Sandwich.
- Chipotle: Plant-Based Chorizo.
- Carl's Jr.: Beyond Famous Star with Cheese.
How are McDonald's Eggs Prepared? Good question. Our breakfast menu items are all made with real eggs—they're just prepared a little differently for each sandwich.
Are the eggs at Subway real? ›
Those "eggs" are actually made with egg whites, yolks, soybean oil, water, natural flavoring agents, salt and a mix preservatives and stabilizers like xanthan gum, citric acid and cellulose gum.What billionaire eats breakfast at McDonald's? ›
In his HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffett, the 92-year-old revealed that for the past nearly six decades he has stopped by McDonald's on his five-minute drive to the office every morning to indulge in one of the chain's three signature menu offerings: a sausage with egg and cheese, a bacon with egg and cheese or ...What is the 1 fast food restaurant in America? ›
The largest fast food chain in the US is McDonald's, with a revenue of $23.18 billion and a market share of 43.8%. As of 2021, the US fast food industry has a market size of $366.9 billion. 36.6% of Americans consume fast food every day.What frugal billionaire eats almost every breakfast at McDonald's? ›
Warren Buffett is one of the most frugal billionaires. Here's how he makes and spends his fortune. Warren Buffett, one of the world's richest people, lives a modest life. He drinks five cokes a day and eats McDonald's for breakfast every morning.Why are we boycotting Taco Bell? ›
In 2001, the CIW launched the boycott of Taco Bell, calling on the fast-food giant to take responsibility for human rights violations in their supply chain, to improve wages and working conditions by passing on a penny-per-pound pay increase to the workers, and to buy only from Florida growers who passed this penny per ...Who is the Taco Bell apology? ›
Pete Davidson has joined forces with Taco Bell to be the face of their newest advertisement "The Apology." "We're sorry. We went a bit crazy with our breakfast.What did Taco Bell get rid of on their menu? ›
While Taco Bell has dropped the quesarito from its menus, it's bringing back two other items: the Double Steak Grilled Cheese Burrito and the Bacon Club Chalupa.Why is Taco Bell struggling? ›
Some of the providers of the basic goods that have been able to make food products readily available to consumers have struggled to do so, which is seemingly a lasting effect of Covid-19. The US-headquartered fast-food chain, Taco Bell has been hit by a nationwide shortage of some goods.Why is Taco Bell purple now? ›
The name of the business “Taco Bell” comes from the name of the founder, Glen Bell. The bell icon above the wordmark also comes from Glen Bell's name, while the purple coloring sets the brand apart as exotic and unique.What is the Taco Bell dog controversy? ›
Some Latin Americans accused the dog of being a cultural stereotype. Commercials that depicted the dog as a bandido with a sombrero or as a revolutionary wearing a beret (similar to the one famously worn by Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara) were seen as particularly insensitive.
Which rapper is suing Taco Bell? ›
U.S. rapper and hip-hop mogul 50 Cent sued Taco Bell on Wednesday, saying the restaurant chain made him the star of its hip-hop themed ad campaign without his permission and without paying him a fee.What is the weird Taco Bell mascot? ›
"Gidget" is the name of the Taco Bell dog. Nicknamed the "Taco Bell Chihuahua", was a popular advertising figure and mascot for the Taco Bell restaurant chain from 1997 to 2000.Who was the boiling water Taco Bell victim? ›
The entire incident was caught on surveillance cameras back on July 17. Brittany Davis and her daughter went into the Dallas-area Taco Bell after their $31 drive thru order was prepared incorrectly twice.What is the oldest item on Taco Bell menu? ›
Burritos - Red Sauce
The original Taco Bell menu still offered the basic burrito. This burger was supposed to come with a "red sauce", this sauce was tomato based with spices added to it.
Links. In October, Taco Bell enlisted comedian/actor Pete Davidson to apologize for the brand “going too far” with its breakfast innovation, noting that the morning is no time for such intensity. The campaign was apparently a wild success.What actress loves Taco Bell? ›
Plus, the one thing that gets her upset at the drive-thru.Did Taco Bell refused to serve deaf customer? ›
“This is my Deaf son getting discriminated against in the Taco Bell drive thru ... He was trying to show them his order and they told him it was against company policy to take his order that way,” Becky Rosemont Burch wrote when she posted the video on Facebook on Wednesday.