Rarely does an item get as much buzz as the latest release from Taco Bell. Granted, I probably spend more time than most people reading about limited Oreo flavors and weird protein concoctions, but the Naked Chicken Chalupa has seemed to permeate through all of the different food and news sources I tend to look at on a daily basis. Aside from the usual spots like Grub Grade or Brand Eating, the Naked Chicken Chalupa has seen hype from The San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and tons of other relevant non-junk food blogs. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, the Naked Chicken Chalupa is a deep fried piece of chicken shaped like a taco shell filled with lettuce, tomato, shredded cheese, and an avocado ranch sauce. I don’t eat tons of fast food but I love Taco Bell and all of their zany ideas, so I have been pumped on this since it was first announced and hope it lives up to the hype. Let’s dig in.
My initial thought is that it is smaller than I expected it to be. The smell immediately reminds me of a standard cafeteria chicken sandwich with a little extra spice. The cheese has melted, which is always a good sign, and considering the decently lengthy wait time in the drive through this bad boy was made fresh. The shell is fried chicken crispy and holds its shape perfectly. The bite has a nice crunch and spice to it with really solid seasoning that is not too salty. Unfortunately the chicken is of the cheaper McChicken/separated variety, but is white all the way through without any weird looking or tasting pieces; I imagine it would be hard to shape an actual chicken breast into a taco.
The avocado ranch sauce is creamy and a touch spicy, but has pooled at the bottom and mixed with the slightly wilted lettuce a bit, leaving an undesirable texture in certain bites. It’s less greasy than the regular Chalupa shell, which I’m happy about as that’s a potentially big issue with a fried meat vessel in place of a standard tortilla
The Naked Chicken Chalupa is good but it feels a bit…naked. The execution on the shell is spot on but an additional meat on the inside would really bring it home. I would love a nacho cheese double chicken Chalupa or supreme beef version. Deep frying the shell when it is ordered presented both negatives and positives – it helped melt the cheese but also got the lettuce to wilt and be flimsier than on most Taco Bell products. The possibilities on this new item are endless but the initial attempt falls short of being a slam dunk.