We Tried Taco Bell’s Fried Chicken Chalupa Shell

If you thought replacing sandwich bread with fried chicken was an abomination, or using fried chicken as a taco shell seemed sacrilegious there’s a place for you at The Council For Eating Fried Chicken The Same Way You Always Have. That phony organization is the facade Taco Bell has placed at the front end of its lower Manhattan speakeasy experience where Fourth Meal fans can get their hands on the much-hyped Naked Chicken Chalupa (that’s the thing with the taco shell made of fried chicken) and sip a cocktail before the official debut of the item in restaurants on Thursday. The chicken shell is yet another terrifying sounding concept ready-made for Internet virality and Taco Bell attached plenty of deep fried bells and whistles for the launch.

Greeted by members of the Council in a 1950s chic campaign office, you can pick up literature and be proselytized to by fanatics of traditional fried chicken consumption. But a keen eye will spot a refrigerator nestled in the corner sporting the Bell logo, behind which lies the secret entrance to the Taco Bell Speakeasy, where you can sit on cozy couches and fill your face with all the fried chicken chalupas you can handle.

Why make a taco shell out of chicken?

According Rob Poetsch, Taco Bell’s director of public affairs, fried chicken is one of the fastest growing facets of the fast food industry. But given it’s Tex-Mex aesthetic, that facet is not necessarily in the Bell’s wheelhouse. However, now that popular experiments like KFC’s Double Down have laid some groundwork for the idea of meat as wrapper, swapping a tortilla for poultry feels almost natural now. Not to mention that in whatever form it takes, fried chicken is just damned delicious.

The process is similar to the way restaurants make traditional crispy shells, by using a mesh form with a concave bottom and concave top to sandwich the chicken between before frying to hold its shape.

Related: Our Best Fried Chicken Recipes

So how does the Naked Chicken Chalupa taste?

In short, we actually enjoyed it. Our first concern was how a fried meat shell would feel to hold, and the crust of the curved patty passed the test by erring on the drier side of crispy while remaining solidly intact (unlike some flimsy tortillas) while eating. The chicken itself is a little spicy, surprisingly juicy, and what we would call “chicken-y,” overcoming some common fast food pitfalls of spongey frozen patties. Nestled inside the chicken are the typical chalupa toppings of lettuce, tomatoes and cheddar cheese along with an avocado ranch sauce. In all, it’s pretty good fast food and really good drunk food. For what it’s worth, we ended up finishing ours.

How to try it before everyone else…

If you want to visit the speakeasy experience and try the Naked Chicken Chalupa before the rest of the public, you’ll need to make a reservation by calling 1-844-DRUMSTK. The experience will run 5pm-10pm tonight and Wednesday at 399 Lexington Ave. in NoHo. Of course, if you’re not in NYC, you can just wait and go to your local Taco Bell on Thursday and drop $2.99 to try it for yourself. It’s definitely interesting.

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