It's been a while since the last time I've been to Taco Bell Philippines' Gateway Mall branch in Cubao, Quezon City, and I must say there have been a lot of changes in terms of menu offering and their prices as well. I've always been a fan of Mexican foods--I totally love Chipotle, cheesy nachos with jalapeños, guacamole and salsa. And ever since, I feel right at home and comfortable with Taco Bell Philippines' Gateway Mall branch. I guess it has something to do with my being forever partial with all shades of purple/violet and lavender---Taco Bell's trademark color. So when I got invited to one of Zomato's foodie invite, I immediately said yes.
Let's start with the obvious - the décor. Taco Bell's walls are adorned with huge photos of Taco Bell's best sellers such as Steak Quesadillas, Nachos Supreme, Grilled Stuffed Burritos etc. I guess this is some kind of a trick because since it's visually enticing, seeing those yummy Taco Bell goodies would certainly make you want to order and eat them. And yes, they certainly looked so good on your walls that you'd be wanting to have them on your table. I liked the fact that Taco Bell doesn't try to look vaguely Latino or Mexican in theme. Rather, they chose to emphasize freshness on their meals and genuinely interesting fusion combinations in tacos, burritos and squeezing in a bit of American tweaked specifically for the Filipino palate.
Being an old regular Taco Bell-Gateway Cubao branch-goer, I knew that this branch used to have free wifi connection. Unfortunately, during my last visit with them, they no longer have access for guests/customers. I didn't know why they had removed this privilege to their customers, but if I remember right, it was one of the few perks why I used to hangout and dine at Taco Bell's. Being a food blogger, I feel that I should share foodie photos to my followers and readers and give them tips/suggest on what they should try or shouldn't order in a particular restaurant. In this way, I'm given the chance to interact with fellow netizens and social media users, so basically having a free wifi connection is one of the first few things we usually ask when we enter an establishment. But then again, I respect Taco Bell's decision to remove their free wifi privilege to dining customers.
Now, let's move on to the food. I've had a huge bucket of nachos with cheese (Php109). A tub of nachos from Taco Bell is good for two to three persons. This is perfect to munch on while watching a basketball game (there are Taco Bell kiosks inside The Smart Araneta Coliseum) or you're on the cinema. I reckon this is also good to eat as you wait for friends to show up during a Friday gimmick. I liked Taco Bell's nachos because they are flavorful on their own even without dipping them on its cheesy sauce. And unlike other ordinary corn-made nachos, Taco Bell's can maintain its crispiness even if exposed to air for quite sometime.
I've also tried Taco Bell's flagship tacos--the Crunchy Taco Supreme. Composed of ground beef, minced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, cheese, spices and sour cream--it was truly a winner! Taco Bell's sour cream alone is worthy of mentioning, it had the right taste, not too sour nor too bland. Seriously, if you'd want to add some kick into your taco, Taco Bell made sure they've got you covered with three different levels of spiciness: Mild Sauce, Hot Sauce and Fire Sauce. Obviously, mild sauce are good for those who'd just like to try putting on some spice. Hot sauce is for the regular ones while Fire sauce are for those who can tolerate extremely spicy foods.
We've had the Crunchy Taco Supreme with Taco Bell's Margarita Slush in Lime. I was surprised that they seemed to complement each other as the lime flavor from the slush sort of cleanses the palate. Next up was Nacho Supreme (Php89)--generous ground beef, minced tomatoes, onions, creamy cheese and a huge dollop of sour cream on a bed of flour tortillas. Genuine freshness happening here - the ingredients taste real, flavorful, and clean. Eating them looks kinda messy but what I love the most about Taco Bell's is their flour tortilla. It has never disappointed me, despite the presences of creamy cheese and dollops of sour cream, it didn't become soggy. Although if I had the choice, I could've provided jalapeño slices as customer's additional add-ons option.
In my opinion, I'd say that perhaps Taco Bell Philippines had been trying its best to sort of "please" the Filipino market to the point that they've been tweaking their foods to cater to more people. I see nothing wrong with that. But there are pros and cons, of course. While they are constantly tweaking their food to suit the so-called Pinoy palate, they are missing the ones that has made them popular throughout the world--they are supposed to be serving Mexican/Latino-American foods right? So why deviate from the kinds of food you've started out with? Can you believe it that Taco Bell Philippines now serves french fries? Yes, they now serve that in the Philippines! The thing is, so many fast food restaurants have been serving burgers and fries, that some Filipinos would want to give themselves a break and try some other exciting foods such as tacos, burritos, quesadillas etc. So basically, I don't see the point why Taco Bell Philippines would be offering/serving the same thing on their menu. Ironically enough, Taco Bell says their fries are doing good. I suggest that if they really want to serve fries, they should probably introduce or come up with dipping sauces with hints of Mexican/Latino-American. For example, they craft a jalapeño ranch dipping sauce or specialty fries like Philly or Carne Asada--it'll definitely make people come back.
Next up was the potato bites. They are the perfect texture of crispy on the outside and soft on the insides. I'm sure kids will love these cute brown potato bites that come when you order a Taco Bell combo meal.
Then we've had a Crunch Wrap Supreme. Made from a warm, soft flour tortilla with seasoned beef and warm nacho cheese, it easily becomes a comfort food. It certainly offers big flavor and great texture.
Overall, I'd say I'd coming back to Taco Bell for these reasons:
* The ambiance is quite colorful and inviting.
* Taco Bell's variety of sauces have very catchy lines on their sauce pouches, I find them cute.
*I loved their taco, it’s just so crispy and creamy, perfect filling of rice and veggies and sauces on their burritos + oozing quesadillas.
* The topped nachos was simply amazing. The crunch wrap was also very yummy.
* Taco Bell uses reduced fat sour cream so you'll have less guilt when you eat more than you can consume.
*Nachos have some peppery spice, crunch just right and addicting with its creamy cheese dip.
*Mexican Pizza with taco ingredients as toppings was great. I'd like to order it again when I come back to Taco Bell next time.
I wouldn't say they are pure Mexican cuisine but they are customized version for the Philippine consumers.
Taco Bell are located in Trinoma Mall, Gateway Mall (Food Choices and Ground Floor) and with six kiosks inside The Smart Araneta Coliseum. They're going to open up two more branches soon.