Now, I like gringo-style Mexican tacos. I've had my share of crunchy shelled Taco Bell and Del Taco ones. Their serviceable versions go down fine for drive-thru dining. Mitla Café, in San Bernadino, is believed to have first developed the hard-shell Americanized version: spiced ground beef topped with lettuce, tomato and shredded American cheese. Glen Bell operated a hamburger stand nearby and copied this recipe when he launched Taco Bell in 1962 in Downey, California.
For my own fast food version, using low-fat and cheaper ground poultry, (of course, you can use ground beef,) just click here to see the recipe.
I've been working right around the corner from a Jack in the Box in Santa Monica, and have dined on their 99 cent Chicken Sandwich and Jr Jack (for just over a dollar) every month or so, but I have to draw the line on the 2 Tacos for 99 Cents from their Value Menu. It's been years since I had one and now I remember why.
I guess you could say I really decided to get Jack in the Box's tacos to test the limits of my new video series, Cheap$kate Dining. The rating system is 1 to 9, 9 being best -- with any entree that's rated 5 or higher worth a try. There is an upcoming Cheap$kate Dining episode that will rate a perfect 9, so keep checking back. And now I have one that rates near the bottom.
After paying 99 cents (plus tax) I bellied up to the counter and noticed the cook with a fry basket tray holding a row of folded meat-filled tortillas that she dunked into a vat of hot oil -- not a good start..
I made sure to load up the to-go bag with taco sauce, just in case. Back in the office dining room I unwrapped one taco and dug in. The first thing you hit is the crunchy shell, then soothing American cheese and shredded lettuce -- not a bad start. With the second bite I got to the meat of the problem.
The middle of the taco was soggy from the mushy protein mixture. Unlike other American-style tacos with real gound meat, this version had no textrure - it was just a beef-flavored paste slathered with a bland taco sauce. (I found out later that the 99 Cent Tacos are a mixture of beef and soy - which is fine, expect that the tast is off.)
Well, the best thing I can say is you do get 2 Tacos for 99 Cents, but that is also the problem. Now I had to finish the second one -- good thing I packed extra taco sauce!
Things did not get better. Compared to Taco Bell or Del Taco, Jack in the Box's are scraping the bottom of the fast food barrel. But perusing some of the comments on my YouTube channel (click here to read them) they are liked. (No problem with that, we all have our guilty pleasures - one of mine is McDonalds Filet-O-Fish sandwiches; especially when they go on sale during File-O-Fish Fridays.)
Jack in the Box 99 Cent Taco - VIDEO
Play it here, video runs 2 minutes, 22 seconds.
99 thanks to Chad Reder for his camerawork.
To view or embed from YouTube, click here.