Burger Mash-ups: Del Taco

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[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

Most fast food chains regularly launch new products to keep their line-up interesting, and while Del Taco has recently debuted a few new variations on their tacos and burritos, the burgers are still exactly the same as when Damon reviewed them in late 2009. You can get a basic cheeseburger (with lettuce and ketchup), a slightly more dressed up double cheeseburger (with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, and "secret sauce") and a bacon double cheeseburger...and that is all.

Knowing that Del Taco burgers have bland beef and "school lunch quality" veggies, I set off to create new (and more flavorful) burger mash-ups: a tostada cheeseburger and a quesadilla fatty melt.

If there's one Del Taco item that could use some love, it's the cheeseburger. I mean, look at that thing: It's all bun and cheese, and unless you peel it apart, you have to go on blind faith that there's actually beef in there. Actually, even if you do a visual check, that's still necessary. The patty is almost completely flavorless, as is the cheese and the bun. Not a lot to work with.

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My biggest take-away from braving the Jumbaco was that crispy taco shells and taco seasoning can improve a burger, so I ordered a tostada (beans, lettuce, and shredded cheese on a crispy corn shell), hoping it could bring revive the flatlining cheeseburger. Visually, the tostada cheeseburger is a lot more appealing than the standard cheeseburger, but the only flavor that came through was the spice blend on the beans and the salt from the tortilla. It was like eating a giant tostada surrounded by nondescript mush. I didn't make it past the second bite.

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The addition of tomatoes made the double cheeseburger tastier than the original, but I nearly gagged when I hit the secret sauce, which tasted weirdly tangy, like it had gone off. My plan for this burger was to ditch the buns and swap them with quesadillas, kind of like a fast food Mexican take on a Hamburger Fatty Melt.

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Removing the bun had two main consequences: losing the top slice of cheese (no big deal), and getting rid of most of that rancid sauce (a very good thing). Despite being almost comically over-sized, the spicy jack quesadilla brought a lot of flavor and was a huge improvement over the bun. I won't say the quesadilla fatty melt was great, but it was more than passably ok, and for Del Taco, that's a compliment. With a few packets of hot sauce or salsa, it would be even better. For a total cost of $4.88, you could do a lot worse.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her newly-launched San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax

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