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Discontinued Taco Bell items
Photographs: Courtesy Taco Bell

For whom the Bell tolled: The best discontinued Taco Bell items

Don't cry because they're over, live más because these discontinued Taco Bell items happened

Written by
Stephanie Breijo
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Oh the humanity… whenever an item from a fast food menu is removed, loyal fans mourn the loss. Of all the fast food and cheap eats spots out there, Taco Bell just might elicit the strongest reactions, and the most nostalgia for fast foods lost. Some of the most beloved discontinued Taco Bell items can still foster magical memories of simpler times and late night drive-through runs.

Throughout Taco Bell’s illustrious history — it was founded in California in 1962 — it has urged the masses to think outside the bun, with a menu of cheesy, crunchy and downright ingenious mashups (a Dorito-flavored taco shell? a crunchy AND soft taco together in one?). Some concoctions, however, are more fleeting than others. Some of Taco Bell’s most crispy tacos, experimental attention grabbers and iconic items are no longer with us. These discontinued items are often dropped to make way for new, over-the-top dishes, but their impression on our hearts (and our bellies) will last forever.

Here we celebrate the delicious memory of these discontinued Taco Bell items, but if crunchwraps and gorditas are not your idea of fast food heaven, there’s always Chipotle, Popeyes, and McDonald’s.

RECOMMENDED: The entire Taco Bell menu ranked

Best discontinued Taco Bell items

9. The Volcano Taco

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Before the bright shell on the Fiery Doritos Locos Taco, there was the neon red Volcano Taco, which launched in 2008 and significantly brought the heat (at least in comparison to the rest of the menu). Tauted as the Bell's spiciest taco yet and part of a heat-loving Volcano menu, fans lined up for a taste of the ground beef, lettuce and shredded cheddar doused with lava sauce: a spicy, creamy take on nacho cheese and a discontinued topping that's still mourned across social media years after its demise. The lava sauce here was what truly heated things up, and no amount of Fiery or Flamin' Hot tacos can sate our cravings for it. Bring back the lava sauce.

8. The Bell Beefer

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Most know Taco Bell is big on thinking outside the bun, but once upon a time—we're talking well into the '90s—you could head to the Bell for a very bun-based meal. In a fast-food world full of classic hamburgers, the Bell Beefer was a south-of-the-border–inspired option that leaned more toward the Sloppy Joe; ground taco beef provided much of the heft to this long-time favorite, lightened by lettuce and diced onion, and it could gain shredded cheese with a "supreme" upgrade. Decades later and fans are still calling for its return.

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Nacho Fries
Photograph: Courtesy Taco Bell

7. Nacho Fries

Taco Bell's Nacho Fries are a lot like a Bigfoot, in that their sightings occur infrequently and they've garnered their own legendary status in a mostly-disappeared existence. The fluffy-on-the-inside French fries get coated in a zesty nacho seasoning, and of course come served with a side of nacho sauce for dipping. They debuted in January of 2018 and have since come and gone from menus five or six times. They've arrived in spicy "Reaper Ranch" format; they've been graced by Buffalo-chicken–inspired sauce; they've even had their own movie trailer—and even another trailer, which even jokes about their here-today-gone-tomorrow nature—and, let's face it, we'd watch full-length features of both these movies. But when will Nachos Fries return again? Who can say.

The 7-Layer Burrito
Photograph: Courtesy Taco Bell

6. The 7-Layer Burrito

Truly a great amongst fast-food vegetarian options, the 7-Layer Burrito was one of our consummate go-to's when we didn't feel like beefing up. The strata of refried beans, guacamole, cheese, onion, lettuce, sour cream and tomatoes at least felt a little lighter than its cheese-and-potato counterparts, and could be even further improved by subbing in black beans. Rest in peace, 7-Layer, you were an undervalued veggie hero.

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5. Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes

Like its vegetarian compatriot the 7-Layer burrito, cheesy fiesta potatoes, too, recently went to the great big Bell in the sky. You can't ever go wrong with a bowl of fried potatoes, but this value-minded menu item packed serious bang for your buck, not to mention pizzazz for the spuds. Each bowl contained fried potatoes—fluffy on the inside with just a thin crunch on the outside—topped with nacho cheese sauce, which was then topped with sour cream for a great hot-cold dynamic that was perfect for a snack whenever. We miss you, Cheese Fiesta Potatoes, but our waistlines do not.

Caramel Apple Empanada
Photograph: Jackie Rivas

4. Caramel Apple Empanada

For roughly a decade you could hold fall in the palm of your hand—not by going apple picking, but by heading to Taco Bell for an empanada. McDonald's might have cornered the market on apple turnovers, but Taco Bell's apple empanada contained something special: a smooth, not-too-thick caramel sauce that coated the apples and tasted a little like autumn year round. We guess we'll settle for the Cinnabon Delights. If we must.

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3. Spicy Potato Soft Taco

A more portable, crunchy version of the Cheesy Fiesta Potatoes, the Spicy Potato Soft Taco was an absolute killer of a vegetarian item. The blend of fried potatoes, the legendary cool-and-spiced chipotle sauce, the strands of shredded cheese and the crisp lettuce hit all the right spots in our brain with every bite, and was recently removed from the menu to streamline and make room for new items later in 2020. Really the only thing we're left wondering is, "How dare they?"

2. The Enchirito

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Death to false prophets: Taco Bell riffed on the Enchirito's format with smothered burritos a few years back, but they could not touch their fabled Enchirito, which, after a mid-'90s hiatus and then a reprise, fell off menus in 2013 for good. A portmanteau right up there with the best of them, this burrito positively drowning in enchilada sauce was the wet burrito of our fast-food dreams. Stuffed with ground beef, refried beans and diced onions, then basking in a pool of red enchilada sauce so hot that the cheese instantly melted into gooey puddles on the surface, the Enchirito was a knife-and-fork behemoth. It'd been a favorite since the late '60s and all we can say is we want it back; you can still sort of order it by secret-menu dictating its ingredients, but please, Taco Bell, just bring back the Enchirito.

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Mexican Pizza
Photograph: Courtesy Taco Bell/Joshua Blanchard

1. Mexican Pizza

It's still legitimately shocking to us that Taco Bell chose to do away with one of its most iconic items. The Mexican Pizza is a decades-long layering of crunchy tortilla shell, ground beef with refried beans, another crunchy shell, its own special sauce, a sprinkling of shredded cheese and a final flourish of diced tomatoes for a flat, frisbee-like stack that's both textural masterpiece and an eat-on-the-run nightmare. It seems cosmically cruel that in a year as difficult as 2020 the Bell would tear something so pure and comforting from us, but the brand does have its reason, and it's one we can get behind: Given its shape and, uh, saucy, beefy, runny nature, the Mexican Pizza always came packaged in its own unique box, and one that apparently creates an additional 7 million pounds of paper waste every year. The Mexican Pizza died so that trees may live, and we guess we can respect it, thought it's leaving a Mexican Pizza-size hole in our hearts.

Want to see how your favorites stack up?

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