SF Weekly Tastes the Naked Chicken Chalupa (And It Wasn’t Garbage)

Spoiler alert: it's pretty fantastic.

The fanciest Taco Bell in the city is near AT&T Park, San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, February 2, 2017. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

It’s a taco made of chicken. Not a chicken taco. Now that we’ve made that clear, is it any good?

The unironically named Naked Chicken Chalupa (picturing it now) exploded onto the national food scene Jan. 26, taking up screen time during the Super Bowl’s commercials and even garnering a review from longtime food critic Michael Bauer. 

At SF Media Co., the home of the Examiner and SF Weekly, we’re always up for trying out the latest weird food trends. And so one rainy Thursday we hopped on Muni and paid a visit to the fanciest fast food location to grace San Francisco’s borders: the Taco Bell Cantina on Third and Townsend streets. 

The team gets to work. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner) 

Marnie, a fast food trend expert, was pleasantly impressed. “I’m actually surprised it wasn’t complete garbage like a lot of other fast-food oddities (looking at you,  Whopperito),” she said. “The chicken was juicy, and the avocado ranch was pretty good too. It was kinda spicy to me, but I can’t handle anything remotely hot, so it’s probably fine for anyone else. All in all, I didn’t hate myself after eating it, so 7/10 would eat again.”

Nuala grew up eating organic peanut butter sandwiches on whole wheat bread and is a newbie to the fast food scene. Her gateway meal was the Crunchwrap Supreme, though the Chalupa has now taken first place in her heart. 

“It’s basically a salad wrapped in protein, so it’s totally healthy,” she said while licking grease off her fingers. “The one thing that would improve it would be a bunch of New Mexican green chile.” 

The new Naked Chicken Chalupa taco recently released at Taco Bell seen in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, February 2, 2017. (James Chan/Special to S.F. Examiner)

 

Pete, who writes about food for a living, was into it. “At $5.49 for the Naked Chalupa plus a couple of tacos and a drink, I can see why this is popular. It’s way, way less greasy than a Double Down. I second Marnie’s call on the avocado sauce, but it needs more heat to counteract something so creamy and cooling. And the cardboard exterior is a little off. I get that it’s meant to keep you from scorching your fingers on hot chicken, but it looks like the chalupa wants to stand up on its end (which it doesn’t).”

But for Pete, the drinks were really the winner at Taco Bell that day. “I definitely had more fun mixing various Mountain Dew flavors together than eating. Baja Blast — which apparently is no longer exclusive to Taco Bell — was vaguely blue-green like the hot tub at a disreputable motel, and has a slight Dr. Pepper quality, but I’m always put off by things that don’t reference some tangible flavor. So put me down as firmly in the Sangrita camp.”

While we’d love to send you off with good news, Taco Bell announced Thursday that a mere two months after launching their deliciously spicy 440-calorie chalupa, it’ll be taken off the menu in March. So if you’re hankering for a quick snack, you’d better hustle to your local fast food joint. 

 

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