Hangovers. Road trips. Thursday. For whatever reason, even into the most sustainable, organic life a little grease must fall. At the risk of destroying any and all professional credibility, Seattle Met's editorial staff graciously confessed to their favorite fast-food pleasures. The one caveat: No one was allowed to talk about In-N-Out. We know you like In-N-Out. There's no shame in that.
In a surprising twist, it turns out we have a number of Taco Bell apologists in our midst, particularly when it comes to the Doritos Locos Taco, a creation that has even enthralled a former New York Times food editor. Read on, and feel free to share your own torrid confessions, or haughty judgements, in the comments.
Erica C. Barnett, News and Politics Editor, PubliCola
The Dorito Loco taco—basically, a regular Taco Bell beef taco (beef, shredded iceberg, chopped tomatoes, and shredded cheddar; sour cream optional) coated with finger-staining Dorito "cheese" powder—is the kind of brilliant, 3am stoner mashup that makes you think, "Whooooa. Why didn't I think of that?" It's also damn tasty. Despite the branding, the Dorito taco isn't exactly a taco wrapped in a Dorito—it's more like a more assertively cheese-flavored version of Taco Bell's (frankly boring) regular hard taco. I'm not ashamed to say that Taco Bell's got my number. Me, and 100 million other people in the product's first 10 weeks alone.
Laura Cassidy, Style Editor
I'm totally against the idea of a "fourth meal." The very notion is a crystal clear metaphor for what's wrong with America, but I nonetheless find myself eating light on nights when I know we're going to be out late because I'm saving room for Taco Bell's not-dinner, not-breakfast sweet spot. I'm also against eating non-Portlandia meat (you know, cows who have no name and have never been petted or loved) so I didn't try that weird Dorito taco thing, but fake cheese? I might pretend to have morals in that department too, but come 1:28 on a Sunday morning, I am in the drive-thru ordering the Bell's cheese quesadilla. Sometimes I get two. The gooey, Velveeta-esque cheese product is striped with some weird hot sauce product (taco mayo?), and the flour tortilla—bigger than the next morning's hangover and folded in half by some ace geometry student working his way through grad school—is crispy-doughy perfection.
Ariana Dawes, Managing Editor
Chipotle is sort of my secret shame; I tend to get two tacos a la carte, which makes it pretty affordable and edible in one sitting. Late lunches tend to mean I'm starved enough to order a barbacoa burrito the size of my head. The staff always overstuffs both tacos and burritos with free-range, local meats, and moves the out-the-door lunch line with admirable efficiency. The guac is to die for! I've [also] been going to Specialty's Bakery almost daily for the last couple weeks, mainly for fresh salads packed with healthy greens and bean mixtures and soups and chilis—though the sandwiches and pastries are pretty good as well. What I love most is the online-order feature that allows me to avoid all personal interaction; it's just grab and go back to wolf my lunch over my keyboard or, when I have the time, stay in to eat at the cafe.
Laura Dannen, Arts Editor
I have the eating habits of a 12-year-old boy, so my addiction to Wendy’s is only the tip of a very unhealthy food pyramid. Without fail, I pick up a Value Meal every time I enter and/or leave Sea-Tac, which is often enough that I have a Pavlovian craving for fries and a Frosty whenever I board an airplane.
James Ross Gardner, Senior Editor
They appear like two cartoon suns on the horizon, the top curves of the golden arches coming into view. By then the radio reception has usually given up the ghost—or dwindled to a solitary Christian broadcast, the preacher testifying about salvation even as the static threatens to swallow his voice whole. Maybe the billboards have heralded its approach for miles, but in your heart you’ve dreamed of this moment for hours, days even. Then there it is. The M. The magic yellow consonant that stirs in you the yen for two beef patties, for the guilt-free consumption of a sesame seed bun slathered with secret sauce. Is it your fault there aren’t healthier options out here in eastern Oregon? Or upon the Martian landscape of southern Utah? Or in DeathValley? No, it is not. And so you steer towards the off ramp, towards the repast—with fries and a Coke—that is your just reward, to a place where not even a radio preacher can deny you your pleasures.
Kathryn Robinson, Restaurant Critic
The thing about Chipotle is that you can design your own big fat burrito and feel somewhat good about eating it because there’s genuine effort made to stay real on the ingredients: meat from responsibly raised livestock, local—sometimes even organic—produce whenever possible. All that truly makes a difference on taste. The rice is made with cilantro and limes and the salsa actually tastes like something. It would be the perfect fast-food except for the fact that the burrito has something like 1,000 calories.
Seth Sommerfeld, Assistant Arts Editor
While some will call the following statement blasphemous, I contend that the burgers at Five Guys Burgers and Fries are consistently as far better than almost all of the lauded local burger joints. I'm a borderline Five Guys junkie (it's a long story involving Syracuse, New York's horrible food scene and more-frequent-than-weekly trips to Five Guys) because the chain has perfected simplicity; the juicy burgers are made quickly, with quality ingredients, exactly to my specifications, and go great with Five Guys' ridiculous large "regular" order of fries and a Coke. I could go on, but I'll defer to the true expert.
Allecia Vermillion, Food and Drink Editor
Sadly, the nearest Steak 'N Shake is 1,137 miles away in Las Vegas, but I can still taste the Frisco Melt, two "steakburger" patties slip-sliding around in between butter-drenched toasted sourdough with Swiss and Amurrican cheese slices that got me through many a late night in college. Shocking revelation: I'm pretty sure the Frisco sauce is just Thousand Island dressing. But "steakburger" just sounds classier than "patty." The one drawback is the overly thin shoestring fries. Back in school in St. Louis, my roommate and I would solve this problem by having one of us drive to Steak 'N Shake to load up on Melts and dubiously delicious liquid cheese sauce, while the other one hightailed it to Jack in the Box to acquire better fries to dip in it. Yes, I realize this is horrifying.
Chris Werner, Senior Web Editor
Skip the fries—they're soggy—and fill up instead on the Culver's Deluxe butter burger. Indeed, the bun glistens with butter—it's "lightly" applied, claims the menu, but greasy fingers suggest otherwise—then toasted and topped with a pickle slice. Finishing with one of the Concrete Mixers (candy bars and cookies mixed with thick-as-molasses custard) is never a bad idea.
Allison Williams, Senior Editor
Sonic Drive In doesn't really capture much of the rockabilly flavor of original drive-ins, but that stuff's cheesy anyway. Their car-hop service is about as fast as a drive-through, and you usually end up eating your meal while parked. Lives have probably been saved because they discourage returning to the road to mow down innocent pedestrians while dipping fries in ketchup. The closest Sonics are in the Tacoma area, so they're a road trip guilty pleasure; I'll admit to digging the ridiculous bacon cheeseburger on fat toast with an onion ring inside. It's death on toast, and it's delicious.
Amanda Zurita, Assistant Style Editor
I honestly think the Dorito taco at Taco Bell is the answer to some drunken prayer I once had.