This post is not affiliated with Taco Bell. Please read below for Taco Bell’s Mexican Pizza Hype!
What’s the big deal about Taco Bell bringing back their Mexican pizza? And why are vegetarians so excited about it? Isn’t Taco Bell just a crappy fast food spot?
On May 19th, Taco Bell brought back their Mexican pizza, which was a victory in so many ways. I will note that Taco Bell is part of the exploitative fast food industry like many other chains so I am very well aware of that. But sometimes you are traveling, under the influence, or are desperate to eat something after midnight and Taco Bell is there to save you.
The South Asian/Vegetarian Connection
Taco Bell has been an institution for South Asians and vegetarians in the U.S. for decades. It has been and still is one of the few fast food chains in the past 20 years that has legitimate vegetarian options! I can’t remember being able to eat anything other than fries when I was on the road 10 years ago. Way before Burger King incorporated the Impossible burger on their menu and before chains like Chipotle/Qdoba showed up (yeah I’ve been on this earth for a minute), Taco Bell had their bean burrito, quesadilla, and other items that could be made vegetarian.
Vegetarians, South Asian immigrants and their children who don’t eat beef or are plant-based have barely had options at fast food chains (other than fries that may have been fried in animal fat – yeah I am talking about you Portillo’s). Even if one does not eat fast food or Taco Bell that much, it’s still really comforting to have that anchor.
According to a recent NPR article, the Mexican pizza (or at least a version of it) has been around since 1985! This is way before vegetarian food became more mainstream in the U.S. In addition to Taco Bell being a haven for South Asian folks and vegetarians who could just substitute beans for beef, Taco Bell emphasized spice and flavor compared to other fast food chains, which in my opinion were always a bit bland. And spice and flavor are essential components of South Asian cuisine.
My Discovery of Taco Bell
I did not grow up vegetarian nor was I immersed in South Asian culture but I felt the gravitational pull of Taco Bell throughout my childhood and adolescence. I loved how flavorful and crunchy everything was and it was the cool place that my vegetarian friend in high school would take us to when we could leave campus for lunch. So when I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons at 19, my adoration for Taco Bell was intensified. I always loved eating their simple, yet satiating bean and cheese burrito with crunchy raw onions, swapped out the beef for beans with their Mexican pizza and did the same thing with their Enchirito – a glorified enchilada (hey Taco Bell, can you bring this back please?).
As a half-Indian person who chose vegetarianism, I found solidarity with other South Asian vegetarians who also have an attachment to Taco Bell. So when Taco Bell took off the Enchirito AND the Mexican Pizza, I was devastated and joined my fellow Taco Bell lovers in our shared disappointment. I was now limited to my glorious bean and cheese burrito and never have been a big Crunch Wrap person/hate sour cream.
On a glorious day in April, Taco Bell announced that they are bringing back their beloved Mexican pizza on May 19th and South Asians/vegetarians all over America rejoiced. On May 19th, I joined my fellow Mexican pizza lovers for a Mexican pizza feast in the park. It was a beautiful day outside and I felt so hopeful about eating something that is nostalgic for me.
Here is how it went
The Mexican pizza was just as delicious as it was before! I give it 4/5 stars!
But there were a few changes made:
- Less sauce – I love sauces and the Mexican pizza seemed to have a lot more cheese and less tomato sauce on it, which made it slightly less flavorful for me. Good thing my friend brought the Taco Bell Fire hot sauce that we poured all over our Mexican pizzas.
- Black beans – The vegetarian Mexican pizza usually comes with refried beans but in addition to the refried beans, they added black beans, which added more of dynamic texture to the pizza filling. I absolutely loved this addition.
I have made a vegan Mexican pizza at home because I love it so much – I even have a recipe for it. But nothing compares to the crunchy flour tortilla shells and impeccably melted cheese blend (I don’t cook dairy at home so it’s a treat to eat cheese). I am elated to have another delicious vegetarian option for those rare occurrences when I am on the road or need something past midnight. Please don’t take this off your menu ever again Taco Bell!