Haute-N-Ready: TacoTime for Chili

The local Mexican chain adds house-made chili, jams Fritos-like chips into burrito.

Welcome to Haute-N-Ready, in which John Locanthi, Willamette Week’s trencherman of leisure, tastes the hastily made, modestly priced food of the common man.

Eugene’s own TacoTime

I wouldn’t describe any of these special house-made chili menu items to be objectively bad—although the burrito is damn close—but I do have a few questions. With the green chili items, including a sauce now in packets, TacoTime seemed to be positioning itself as a fast casual Mexican joint. Their sweet pork burrito is one of the best value menu items I’ve found in my year as a professional fast food eating guy. Chili is fine, but why devolve into nacho cheese? Replace it with the basic cheddar and jack blend you can find in grocery stores, and you’d have some perfectly cromulent chili cheese nachos. The Chili Crunch Burrito feels and sounds like a half-baked Taco Bell idea from five years ago.

Chili is great. Nachos are great. I can make better versions of both at home. That’s the trouble with adding chili or nachos to any menu. There are relatively simple things, and everyone has their own special recipe to get them just the way they like it. None of mine—and hopefully none of yours—involve Velveeta or whatever it is that goes into nacho cheese. I just don’t have much interest in driving out to TacoTime to get some fries covered in so-so chili and nacho cheese. It may be football season, but I’m not trapped in a ballpark.

WWeek 2015

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