We Tried Taco Bell's Secret Menu (and Lived to Tell)

Rachel Tepper Paley
April 8, 2014

Photo credit: Taco Bell, illustration credit: Jen Fox

Behind the counter of a Taco Bell nestled in the subterranean labyrinth of Penn Station in New York City, cashier Ian Murphy looked confused. Very confused. “You want to order what exactly? A ‘Superman?’” Murphy asked warily, repeating the secret menu order we’d placed moments earlier.

"The Superman," we explained, is one of the many off-menu items listed on the fascinating web site Hack the Menu, a virtual encyclopedia of glowingly reviewed, unofficial fast food items that both the companies and enterprising patrons have created over the years.

Good thing we’d brought cheat sheets for several items—”The Superman,” “The Incredible Hulk,” and “The Quesarito”—which broke down each item’s ingredients and preparation method.

"We’ll figure it out," Ian said, seeming invigorated. By now, a small crowd of employees had gathered around him, a distinct giddiness in the air. "I’ve never heard of these until you showed up. Crazy!"

Several minutes later, we were hunkered down in a red pleather banquette with the three secret menu items spread across the table before us. Could they be as good as Hack the Menu suggests? Here’s how they stacked up:

The Incredible Hulk ($5.69)

Photo credit: Rachel Tepper

What it is: Essentially Taco Bell’s Five-Layer Burrito with the standard nacho cheese swapped out for guacamole. (Although the picture on the site sure doesn’t resemble the dish we ordered.)

What Hack the Menu says: “Guacamole is a healthy ‘secret menu’ item that adds so much creamy depth and flavor to any dish.”

Our verdict: We’re usually huge fans of guac, but here it added one too many layers of creaminess: the layers of beef, beans, Cheddar cheese, sour cream, and guacamole melted into a spiced slurry barely contained by the tortilla. Also, we think it’s a stretch to call guacamole a “healthy” option in this context. Pass.

The Superman ($5.69)

Photo credit: Rachel Tepper

What it is: A burrito stuffed with extra potatoes, sour cream, guacamole, tortilla strips, sour cream, a double portion of ground beef, and nacho cheese.

What Hack the Menu says: ”This monster Superman burrito will fill you up for sure. Why order a wimpy little burrito when you can show off to your friends how you can take down the Superman burrito in one sitting.”

Our verdict: This dish should be named “The Incredible Hulk,” as opposed to the “Superman.” It wasn’t all that “super.” It was, however, the largest item we ordered by far. Although it fared decently in the taste department, we felt queasy halfway through eating it. Few people need to eat a burrito this big. (We’re looking at you, too, Chipotle.)

The Quesarito ($5.69)

Photo credit: Rachel Tepper

What it is: A cross between a quesadilla and a burrito. Cilantro-spiced rice, ground beef, nacho cheese, and sour cream nestle together inside a nacho cheese–slathered tortilla. Taco Bell started testing the item in Oklahoma City back in January.

What Hack the Menu says: “The Taco Bell Quesarito you say? Looks like Taco Bell can’t wait to get into the quesarito game. If you haven’t heard of the Chipotle Quesarito, then you either live under a rock or have never gone on the internet. Either way, you have to check it out! Now only time will tell if Taco Bell can compete or even compare to the Chipotle Quesarito.”

Our verdict: The Quesarito gets points for its name being a clever portmanteau—the best of two fast-foody worlds—but Taco Bell really needs to step up its nacho cheese game, which smacks of that fake cheese flavor you find in gas station nachos.

If you’re a Taco Bell fan, you’ll likely be tickled by these dishes and their funny names. (The staffers who helpfully constructed these dishes certainly were.) But if Taco Bell isn’t your bag, these secret menu items won’t change your mind. They might, in fact, make you swear off Taco Bell forever.