On the Taco Bell website, there are paragraphs dedicated to describing — or perhaps "romanticizing" is a more appropriate word — the dishes featured on their menu. Of the soft taco, the website says "it's got a journal full of poetry about its feelings, and a 100% track record of crying during movies based on paperback novels with shirtless dudes on the cover," while the grilled cheese burrito apparently "radiates con-queso confidence."
Comparatively, the thesis of the multi-paragraph Mexican Pizza is pretty straightforward: "Who wants to live in a world with no Mexican Pizza? Spoiler alert, but the answer is no one." But, alas, the world will soon have to adapt.
In a Sept. 3 press release, the 7,000-location chain announced that they would be discontinuing some of their most beloved items, including the 7-Layer Burrito, all the shredded chicken and potato options, Nachos Supreme, the Spicy Tostada. And yes, the Mexican Pizza.
That menu item, which is essentially a double-decker tostada topped with bubbling cheese, had a cult following — especially among vegetarians because it was one of the dishes that could be reliably adapted to be meat-free. It was this bizarre cultural mashup that seemed to revel in its inauthenticity, dripping in both drunken nostalgia and mild red enchilada sauce.
Taco Bell Quarterly, a literary magazine dedicated to writing about or featuring the fast-food chain, summarized the overwhelming response to the announcement of the product's discontinuation with a play on the Arthur's Fist meme, in which the children's book character's hand is clenched around a spork. "Me when I found out Taco Bell is cancelling the Mexican Pizza," the caption reads.
While 2020 has been a rough year, this loss, however inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, feels like another blow. In a statement from the company, Taco Bell President and Global CEO Mike Grams said the company is constantly evaluating ways to provide more efficient restaurant experiences, and have already begun to see progress from streamlining the menu.
"While we know fans may be understandably sad to see some of their favorites go, this evolution of our menu truly paves the way for fresh new ideas," Grams said. "The creativity and innovation in our kitchen hasn't slowed down at all, and we look forward to rolling out new fan favorites."
While they do that, we can still make a version of the Mexican Pizza at home. It's simple and probably healthier than what you'd get in the drive-through (but don't let that stop you from slathering it with any lingering packets of Taco Bell Fire Sauce you have stashed in your kitchen).
DIY Mexican Pizza
½ pound of ground beef
½ packet of taco seasoning (you can actually buy packets of Taco Bell brand seasoning online)
2 tablespoons of oil
10 small white flour tortillas (look for the packages that say "taco size")
8 ounces of refried beans
1 10-ounce can of red enchilada sauce
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 roma tomato, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
Sour cream for serving
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook tortillas one at a time until golden and slightly crisp on both sides, flipping halfway through — about four minutes total. Remove carefully from heat and drain on a paper towel.
- In a larger skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook it, stirring often, until browned. Add the taco seasoning and cook according to packet directions.
- Drain any grease and set aside.
Assemble the Mexican Pizzas
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Spoon 1 tablespoon of enchilada sauce on each tortilla. Then evenly divide the refried beans among the tortillas, followed by the beef.
- Sprinkle cheese over the meat, then top it with a second tortilla.
- Top that tortilla a second tablespoon of enchilada sauce, followed by more cheese.
- Place the pizzas on a large sheet pan and bake them for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly.
- Remove from the oven, and garnish with chopped tomato, scallions and sour cream.