Hoffman's Houston

Taco Cabana goes beyond the beef with new meatless menu items

Taco Cabana goes beyond the beef with new meatless menu items

Taco Cabana Beyond Meat
The Taco Cabana Beyond Meat, carne asada, and mango margarita. Photo courtesy of Taco Cabana

I don’t like to complain, it’s not my nature (Editor's note: Ken loves to complain), but being a professional fast-food eater isn’t as glamorous as you may think. Especially when you count ‘em up: I’ve written reviews of 1,252 different fast-food items. But who’s counting?

I still haven’t recovered from that time in Mississippi when I ate a boiled pig’s ear sandwich. It was so slimy, I still get night sweats.

Admittedly, most of the things I’ve consumed have ranged from all right to okay. Who doesn’t love a good cheeseburger, even when it’s the 10,000th assembly line cheeseburger they’ve sold that day? Sure, I’ve had some things that were one bite and done. Along the way, I had a pizza in New York (Lombardi’s Coal-Oven Pizzeria) and a pie in Rome (Da Baffetto) that are the best things I’ve ever eaten. 

Beyond Meat Tacos
Taco Cabana called last week. The “Mexican Patio Café” with 165 restaurants in Texas has introduced Beyond Meat Tacos and Beyond Meat Bowls. Beyond Meat is a plant-based product that looks and supposedly tastes like real beef. Impossible is another brand producing a plant-based meat substitute. You may have seen Burger King commercials for its Impossible Whopper.

The problem is, if you’re a vegetarian and wishing to avoid all contact with meat, the Impossible Whopper isn’t for you. Burger King admits that it cooks its Impossible Whoppers on the same grill as its regular meat Whoppers, so there’s cross-juiciness.

I’m not a fake food or imitation food or fidgeted-food fan. I don’t like those new low-calorie ice creams where you can eat the whole pint (like I do) and suffer only 280 calories. Just forget low-carb ice cream, that’s an insult. Low-calorie cakes and pies aren’t worth the bother.

The only low-calorie anything I actually enjoy is diet soda, and I probably need to go to Coke Zero rehab. I drink way, way too much. I drink Coke Zero between sets when I play tennis. I used to hate myself for that, until I saw John McEnroe chugging a couple of Diet Cokes during his Legends Tour match at Rice University last year.

Ken's beef with no beef
The thing about Beyond Meat and Impossible burgers, if I didn’t know I was eating fake meat, I probably couldn’t tell, and might even like. But I do know, and I couldn’t get past a couple of bites and whiffs of the Impossible Whopper.

On to the Beyond Meat Taco at Taco Cabana. Now for starters, I love, love, love, Taco Cabana’s breakfast tacos. Most important, they’re cracking real eggs at Taco Cabana, not pouring some pasteurized, de-flavorized yellow glop from a milk carton. If I have to drive somewhere more than an hour, first stop is TC for breakfast tacos. It’s a ritual.

Taco Cabana’s Beyond Meat Taco features Beyond Meat, guacamole, shredded lettuce, shredded cheeses, and diced tomatoes, $2.39. The Beyond Meat Bowl has Beyond Meat, Mexican rice, black beans, shredded lettuce, sweet corn calabacita, and guacamolito in a crispy tortilla shell, $5.99.

I’m sure some people, who are averse to eating meat for a reason (ethical, health, environmental, etc.) will go for these Beyond Meat items. They’re from Taco Cabana, so they’re prepared carefully with top ingredients. Beyond Meat is just beyond me.

So here’s my review: I took a bite. Then I ordered two Breakfast Egg and Brisket Tacos to go, and hit 290 for Austin.