Review: Qdoba Knockout Tacos, The Nosh Show Ep. 68: The Dark Side, & Eating Food In the Grocery Store?

JFG Nation……ZUUUUUUUUUP. Question: Have you ever been shopping at a grocery store, and then just opened something up and started eating it before paying for it? And I’m not talking about stealing food (I’ve definitely seen people eat grapes in the produce aisle YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE HEATHENS). I’m talking about fully intending to buy, say, a bag of Doritos and you just preemptively open the bag and start chomping on those delicious triangles.

Is this Ok? And if you’re on the YES side of this question, how far would you take it? Can you just show up in the checkout lane with a half empty bottle of Coke? A partially eaten bag of chips that you’ve already Chip-Clipped? What about just an empty banana peel – is this kosher?

Let me know in the comments below if you’ve ever done this, and what you think is socially acceptable. Because I’m not sure – I think if you’re gonna do this, you have to have some ability to seal the package before you go pay for it. For example, an open box of Cheez-Its that is closed and fastened before you pay for it? Sure. But a bag of chips is NOT ok, and I don’t CARE if you have Chip Clips IN YOUR BAG YOU WEIRDO.

I mention this because we discussed this in last week’s Nosh Show….which reminds me: EPISODE 68 OF THE NOSH SHOW IS HERE!

For you new arrivals, The Nosh Show is a podcast started by Marvo from The Impulsive Buy, featuring Ryan from GrubGrade, Dubba from On Second Scoop, and, of course, me, your friendly neighborhood JFG. Today marks the release of The Nosh Show, Episode 68: The Dark Side.

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Last week, “we discuss Kellogg’s Jif PB&J Strawberry Cereal, new McDonald’s burgers available on in Chicago, 7-Eleven Oreo Hot Chocolate, and Star Wars Ice Cream. Plus, we go on a tangent about eating food in the store before paying for it.” You can listen embedded here:

You can subscribe to The Nosh Show using various services: iTunesStitcherTuneInRSS, or, you can also download the episode.

Today’s Review: Qdoba Knockout Tacos!!

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Qdoba reached out to me in mid October to talk about their new rollout of Mexican style tacos called Knockout Tacos! The box they sent me above was full of fun promo toys, like the rubber chicken I posted on Instagram a while back.

Time to take this drunken chicken to @qdoba for some #KnockOutTacos

A photo posted by @junkfoodguy on

Fun stuff! I have no idea what to do with the rubber chicken but I knew what to do with the Patron. Anyways, Qdoba’s new taco menu is part of their move to give all of their restaurants a new look, starting with putting flavor first, according to them. The pitch:

The brand new Knockout Tacos will feature a variety of six flavor-packed tacos, with equally-bold names like the Drunken Yardbird and The Two-Timer (which entails a soft taco tortilla and a hard taco shell joined together with mouth-watering queso).”

Well, I’m sold. Where’s my nearest Qdoba?

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Ah, there you are! Now I’ll admit – the reason why this review took so long is because, in addition to the recent lifesh*t that has prevented this blog from running consistently/smoothly, this Qdoba in downtown DC is ALWAYS FULL AT LUNCHTIME. ALWAYS. This photo you’re seeing is me rolling up to it at like 7:00pm, when FINALLY I can order some tacos and actually get a table.

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See, you have to understand – if I’m going into these establishments to order six tacos and a ton of other food, I need a full table and maybe them some to take photos and nosh properly. None of this crammed in a corner trying to take odd angle pics with my cellphone BS. I NEED SPACE.

Since I knew I couldn’t eat six tacos by myself in one sitting (well, I COULD but I shouldn’t), your friendly neighborhood Junk Food Gal tagged along. The above was my attempt to take a picture of the menu. NOPE. Time for some stock photos:

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MUCH better. The Junk Food Gal and I stepped up to the counter and I told the lady, “I’d like one of every Knockout Taco please.” She blinked at me. “Uh…yeah, one of every flavor. Please.” She turned to her co-worker, who asked me what I wanted. “Uh..one of every Knockout Taco?” They looked at each other, then up at the menu, then at me again, then back to each other. They shrugged and THEN STARTED CHUGGING.

Seriously, they were a taco-making tornado. I would say it was totally impressive, until at some point the lady stopped, was eyeing my tacos, and then began counting something. Leaning over to me, the Junk Food Gal whispered loudly “SHE CAN’T REMEMBER WHICH ONES SHE ALREADY MADE.”  Babe, she can hear you! I can’t take her anywhere.

Still, we got our grub, and sat down:

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TA DA! HUGE spread – six tacos, one of each, plus the rubber chicken, two drinks, and a big plate of chips and queso. BOOM. Let’s get some close ups of the spread:

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Yeah, I tried to do some fun creative pictures with the rubber chicken, but it was hard to pose the thing, and the diners nearby started to look at me funny. Woops. I threw the rubber chicken back into my bag, and lined up the tacos for sequential chomping. LET’S GET THIS PARTY STARTED.

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The first trio up: The Bohemian Veg, the Drunken Yardbird, and the Two Timer.

First: The Bohemian Veg!

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Qdoba’s description: Shredded cheese, black beans, corn salsa, guacamole, salsa verde, minced onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese. The Bohemian is the perfect option for vegetarians and veggie lovers alike.

My Review: The Bohemian Veg didn’t have any meat, but that didn’t matter. Honestly, of ALL the tacos, this was either my favorite one or my second favorite. The combo of what was on the tortilla – the cheese, beans, guac, salsa, onions, cotija cheese – all of it combined perfectly to give me the EXACT flavor I expect when eating a truly Mexican taco. Like, no joke. The flavor of this taco was SPOT. ON. The salsa verde was nice and bright and acidic because of the tomatillos, and the cilantro punched me in the face. I loved it.

Second: The Drunken Yardbird! 

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Qdoba’s description: Tequila lime chicken, guacamole, salsa verde, cilantro, minced onion, and cotija cheese bring out unexpected flavors with every bite.

My Review: Since this was the rubber chicken’s namesake, I was excited to try this. I liked it – the chicken had a nice grilled flavor with plenty of savoriness because of the nice lime flavor. The texture wasn’t the greatest – I always find Qdoba’s chicken a little chewy – but the flavor profile could not be denied. Great salsa, again, and the onion backing to this taco was on point. Definitely in the top half of all the flavors I tried.

Third: The Two Timer!

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Qdoba’s description: Pulled pork with salsa roja, shredded cheese and cotija cheese, lettuce, and pico de gallo. The Two-Timer combines a soft flour tortilla smothered with 3-Cheese Queso in the center that is then wrapped around a crunchy shell. 

My Review: MY FAVORITE OF THE BUNCH. Seriously, I thought this one was great – sure the inside crunchy shell got wet and fell apart a bit, but overall, how can you beat that hard and soft texture combo? You can’t – it is what makes the Crunchwrap Supreme great, and its what makes this great. Oh, that and that the pork was nice and tender and full of good pork-y flavor. The three cheese queso mix worked well to make the pork sort of creamy, the shredded cheese gave the taco some bite, and then the cotija cheese punched up the more authentic flavor. SO MUCH CHEESE, SO MUCH PORK, PLUS CRUNCH. Honestly, I could eat ten of these right now.

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I took a quick belt-loosening break before I descended on the second trio: The Gladiator, the Triple Threat, and the Mad Rancher.

Fourth: The Gladiator!

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Qdoba’s description: Grilled steak, bacon, pico de gallo, lettuce, cilantro, cotija cheese, and creamy Mexican caesar dressing—The Gladiator is a mashup of a flavor-fueled taco and Qdoba’s take on a Caesar salad.

My Review: Yeah….I don’t think my Qdoba location made this one right. This didn’t have any creamy Mexican caesar dressing, and it didn’t have any bacon. What I got was basically a steak taco with guac and onion and cilantro…now I undertand the puzzled look on my lady’s face. Yikes. Still, this was a good taco – the steak was a little chewy, and the onion flavor sort of overwhelmed everything else, but otherwise the flavor profile was straightforward. I’d label this as “decent.”

Fifth: The Triple Threat!

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Qdoba’s description: A bold combination of grilled adobo-marinated steak, bacon, fajita veggies, pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and 3-Cheese Queso.

My Review: I’m gonna cut through all the BS – THIS WAS A STEAK FAJITA. And that’s not a bad thing at all – lots of beef, lots of cooked red and green bell peppers, and cooked onions, covered in pico and cheese. Was it tasty? YES. Did it fall apart like most steak fajitas you’ve gotten at restaurants? YES. Good grill flavor? Absolutely. Steak a little chewy like the Gladiator? Yep. The key to this taco was that it was WEEEETTTTTTTTT – because of the grilled veggies. But good flavor through and through.

Finally: The Mad Rancher!

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Qdoba’s description: Grilled chicken, bacon, guacamole, picante ranch, lettuce, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese—it’s like a BLT taco! It’s also among the first three tacos in Qdoba history to include bacon. 

My Review: Nope. Nope. Sorry to end the review on a bit of a down note, but I did not like this taco. BUT to qualify it, it is not because it tasted bad. Like the description states, this is basically a BLT on a taco. Add in the chicken and the picante ranch, and it sort of tasted like a chicken caesar salad on a taco. And….that was basically it! And I love chicken caesar salad! Remove the tortilla and I’ll eat the S out of this combo of flavors. But wrapping the combo in a tortilla did nothing for me.   Good flavor combo, NOT AS A TACO.

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So that was it! By the end, with the drinks and the queso dip, the Junk Food Gal and I were thoroughly STUFFED. We compared notes and found we liked the exact same tacos in the EXACT same order. See? I knew there was a reason I liked her:

1a) The Two Timer

1b) The Bohemian Veg

2) The Drunken Yardbird

3) The Triple Threat

4) The Gladiator

5) The Mad Rancher

If I were to go back, I’d load up on those first two. I do give Qdoba a HUGE amount of credit for making classic Mexican-style tacos, and I think my review affirms that my favorites were the ones that adhered to more traditional flavor profiles – anything that added ranch or caesar dressing was not my bag, baby.

Still, a huge THANK YOU to Qdoba for letting me try these tacos, even I am talking about them a full two (2) months after they’ve rolled out nationwide. Thanks, Qdoba!!!!

PURCHASED AT: Qdoba, Washington, DC

COST: $3.50 per taco, $9.00 for three. 

Thoughts? Please comment below or hit me up on Twitter @junkfoodguy or LIKE my Facebook Page and message me there. I also have Google+!! Let’s hang out.

Sincerely,

Junk Food Guy

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Discuss - 17 Comments

  1. Marianne says:

    I feel like its OK to eat something while you’re shopping as long as its not something you pay for by weight. I even think its OK to put an empty bag on the counter and just say, ” I have to pay for this”. I personally dont do it, but only because I find pushing a shopping cart and eating chips/cookies/whatever/ unsanitary. Im just not offended by paying snackers.

  2. Sarah says:

    If I am buying food from the bulk section, I always eat some of it!….but not until I weigh it! The process always goes….1. Fill my bag with goodies 2. Weigh it, slap the price tag on 3. Grab a handful and then reluctantly put the twist tie on. I have only eaten other food in the store once. I was in Walmart in the forever long line. I was actually feeling light headed from standing. I opened a box of triscuits and ate some while I waited. It doesn’t bother me that people eat in the store….as long as they pay for it.

    • junkfoodguy says:

      @Sarah: Its weird, despite my opposition to eating in the store, your bulk food method doesn’t bother me at all! I think it’s because the bag is sealed by you, the consumer, in the first place.

  3. Mel says:

    I was on line in the grocery store checkout the other day behind a woman who sheepishly put a container of sushi with only 2 pieces left in it on the belt. The cashier was like, “looks like someone got hungry while they were shopping!” We all laughed and I wasn’t offended by it or anything, but I did wonder what the woman did about a napkin while she was shopping/eating. I didn’t see any chopsticks anywhere (and really, that would have just been over the top) so did she just wipe her sticky rice/fish hands on her pants? Yes, I really am that Type A.

  4. Kelly says:

    I always drink a bottle of water at the grocery store and sometimes eat a cheese stick from a bag I am going to purchase. I live 65 miles away from the grocery store so it is a half-day trip to go to town, do the shopping (usually 2 hours), and drive home. I NEVER eat anything sold by weight but I have opened a container of nuts and consumed a few.

  5. MP says:

    I couldn’t even imagine eating in the store. I can wait. I can show some restraint & patience. Those shopping carts are filthy!

  6. Elisa says:

    I know Grand Mart and Great Wall (both international food stores around the DC area) have signs about not eating the fruit. Not always noticed!
    I’ve been in the above Qdoba once. It’s good! Yep, you definitely don’t want to be in there when school tour groups come through town.

  7. Devin H. says:

    Even if you have every intention of paying for something, you still don’t actually own it until you pay for it. I would never eat something before paying for it, and I cringe when I see other people doing it

  8. Anthony says:

    Speaking from experience both as a shopping snacker as well as a former cashier, there’s one important caveat – if you decide to open up a bag of Dorito’s and eat it, fine, it’s going to be paid for in full anyway whether you eat at home or at Food 4 Less. But just make sure to keep the UPC label intact!

    Seriously, sometimes people would come up to us with shredded packs of Goldfish and M&M’s, and if the UPC were part of the mess, there was little we could do other than ask an associate to bring us an identical, unopened bag, or ask the customer to grab one on their own (which we would actively try not to do). I worked at a large department store and it’s not like each item has a code that we can quickly look up from our till – if you want to pay for most packaged items, we need something to scan.

    Besides that, eat whatever you want, whenever you want, as long as you pay for it!

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THE NOSH SHOW GANG

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THE IMPULSIVE BUY
Marvo knows what's on shelves before anyone. ANYONE. Our trusty leader on The Nosh Show.

GRUB GRADE
Ryan is the fast food guru. His soft dulcet tones will make you want to eat french fries, immediately.

ON SECOND SCOOP
Dubba is an ice cream wizard. He's got two spoons and he's not afraid to use them. Unless it's something spicy.

JUNK BANTER
Chris is an IG god, and knows his stuff. Plus, he's from Maryland. What's not to like?