Back during the 2015 holiday season I wrote a blog post in which I paired Arizona craft beers with the grossest, loneliest fast foods. It was a great article and we all had a solid laugh at how hilariously fat The Classy Alcoholic was and then we moved on to welcome 2016 with open arms ‘cause we just knew that was gonna be our fuckin’ year, man! But as proud as I am of the article I have to admit the experience changed something inside of me. And I’m not just talking about how I now have to submit annual reports to the government to ensure my bowels don’t violate the Chemical Weapons Convention treaty.
No, I’m talking about the existential pain caused by several long nights spent guzzling soggy clumps of deep fried cardboard only vaguely disguised as edible material into my face like a sad opossum that somehow developed both a drinking problem and an impeccable fashion sense. That’s when I realized The Classy Alcoholic had hit rock bottom…
But it’s 2017 now and after 16 months or so of exponential sadness and shame, as well as multiple breakups with my ex-girlfriend Rosario Vargas, I’ve come to realize that that shit was pretty much just rock middle at best. So when Taco Bell released something called a Naked Chicken Chalupa in January using a folded up fried chicken patty instead of a taco shell I decided to quietly suffocate any self-respect I had left under a pillow and then follow up that initial fast food article with a goddamn sequel!
The Naked Chicken Chalupa
Look, we should all know by now that promotional photos used by fast food chains aren’t exactly realistic. But seeing the Naked Chicken Chalupa in person was like when I realized my Russian mail-order bride was actually a defective sex robot with a bad dye job. By which I mean: I already spent the money so I might as well just cry on top of it. The pictures on the Taco Bell website promised the beautifully overstuffed, perfectly formed mini-boat you see above. The actual product was the mostly empty, flaccid regret receptacle you see below. It looked like Pac-Man if he were homeless and found dead in an alley from a heroin overdose.
But none of that mattered because if I had any standards for what I put into my body I would be paying extra money for the really good PCP. Instead, I pay relatively little for a Primary Care Physician with only two stars on Yelp who’s been pretty loosey goosey with the Oxy prescriptions so far.
THE BREWERY: Dillinger Brewing Company in Tucson
THE BEER: Lock Down Brown. An alt-style, traditional brown ale. 4.8% ABV. 30 IBU.
THE PAIRING: The fried chicken shell on the Naked Chicken Chalupa had a mildly spicy flavor to it. And inside the folded fried fowl was a mixture of lettuce, tomato and some kind of weird avocado ranch sauce. Dillinger Brewing Company’s brown ale ended up being too good of a pairing for something that sounded gross but ended up being mostly unexciting. I expected this thing to so thoroughly offend my taste buds with its disgusting existence that I would spend the next few hours curled up in a fetal position in the corner of my bathroom while the Taco Bell afterbirth clogged up my toilet bowl and bathtub drain. But for some reason it wasn’t anywhere near that gruesome.
The Dillinger Brown Ale’s malt notes ended up mixing well with the mildly spicy taste of the chicken patty and the avocado ranch sauce actually benefitted from the sweetness added by the caramely taste of the beer. It was almost like this thing was…edible? This much-hyped monstrosity ended up being just a regular, boring spicy chicken sandwich without a bun, which meant the thing was actually healthier without the extra carbs!
The worst part is that there was no meat inside of the Naked Chicken Chalupa. Yeah. You heard me: No. Fucking. Meat. I expected to bite into some leathery, beefy goodness because I don’t want a Taco Bell chalupa without fake steak inside it. That’s like getting a BLT sandwich and then realizing the B actually stood for goddamn “bacon” and not “baboon meat” like you were originally led to believe by the guy working at the deli.
That’s when I realized what the whole point of this was. Taco Bell wasn’t trying to give us exciting, new menu options to make our lives more fulfilling. They wanted to come up with any kind of stupid food concoction that people on the Internet would write about ad nauseum. Then they would spread the word through bloggers so that customers would come in and eat the “food” until they became ad nauseated. And I became part of that scheme. I was providing free advertising to Taco Bell through my blog and betraying my dedication to supporting local Arizona businesses.
Fuck that. It’s about time I start making Taco Bell work for ME.
So I decided to take the rest of the Naked Chicken Chalupas left in the bag and introduce them to some real motherfucking Southwestern Mexican food. Behold, The Classy Alcoholic’s own fast food concoctions:
The Naked Chicken Carne Asada Taco
Carne asada translates to “grilled meat” and it’s basically just charred flank steak with some variation on marinades. It’s a regular staple of Mexican food trucks and it’s the safest bet for a white person adventuring into street meat for the first time. It’s such a common, inoffensive meal that it’s pretty much the Coldplay of Mexican food because Gwyneth Paltrow pretends to like it when the cameras are on but it’s making her puke when she’s behind closed doors.
I got rid of the tortillas that came with the carne asada tacos (and by “got rid of” I mean I doused them in butter then ate them like the fat shit I am) and put the meat inside the fried chalupa along with the toppings and a substantial drip of salsa. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, which is saying a lot because I have a mirror inside my bathroom.
THE BREWERY: Lumberyard Brewing Co. in Flagstaff.
THE BEER: Knotty Pine Pale Ale. 5.5% ABV. 40IBU.
THE PAIRING: The smokey, grilled steak and spicy heat from the salsa went really well with the piney taste of the beer. It was like the sexiest of campfires in my mouth. But the intrusion of the fried chicken patty added a rubbery barrier to my precious carne and ruined any joy that would’ve come from just eating the food separately. It was like eating a shower curtain except with salsa.
Eating this thing reminded me of how I felt watching all those sexy George Michael music videos in the 90s. By which I mean: it gave me all kinds of strange feelings inside that I wished would go away so I didn’t end up defiling every public restroom in sight.
My body told me no, but my journalistic integrity told me not to quit and eat more. So I made my next Chalupa/Mexican Food hybrid.
The Naked Chicken Sonoran Hot Dog
Sonoran-style hot dogs are available all throughout Arizona. The dog is wrapped in bacon, grilled then stuffed into a bun with onions, tomato, pinto beans, mustard, mayo and a jalapeño sauce on top. It’s the most popular answer to the question, “Why do Mexicans smell like diabetes?”
As you can imagine, the bun on these hot dogs has to be pretty hefty in order to fit the full list of ingredients I mentioned above. Somehow, every Sonoran hot dog I’ve seen was well-put together and visually appealing with the insides nicely packed, as you can see above. Taking the innards out of the bun in order to transfer them to the Naked Chicken Chalupa left me with a gross clump of food that looked like it was scraped off my kitchen floor after I accidentally knocked the styrofoam container off the counter with my elbow because I came home super drunk last weekend.
Or…I mean, not that I did that. I’m just saying if I did do that I imagine that’s what that shit would’ve looked like.
THE BREWERY: Arizona Wilderness Brewing Co. in Gilbert.
THE BEER: Region Sauvage d’Arizona. A saison aged in French Oak. 6.5% ABV. 75 IBU.
THE PAIRING: The Region Sauvage was light and refreshing with a nice tart taste. I figured a lighter beer wouldn’t clash too much with the crazy explosion of flavors from the chicken patty hot dog. The beer also had mildly bitter hop kick to it that went well with the meaty and smoky dog.
I bit into the Naked Chicken Sonoran Hot Dog and saw my life flash before my eyes except it was only flashes of my failures. The thing tasted like all of my bad breakups and smelled like my shitty SAT scores. Chewing through the leathery chicken patty and into the crispy bacon melded with the beefy dog sounded like my parents telling me they were getting divorced and that it was all my fault. The entire room went dark as I finished the last bite and I woke up hours later on a sidewalk, behind a dumpster, eight miles away from my apartment with a shitload of loose jalapeños in my pockets and blood all over my leather jacket.
And dude, I don’t even OWN a fucking leather jacket!
The Naked Chicken Chalupa Sonoran Hot Dog was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever created and I write erotic fan fiction starring Sonic The Hedgehog’s grandmother.
Shit. I think it may be time for a lifestyle change.