Here's How 10 New Fast Food Items Fared In A Taste-Test


The last few months have given rise to tons of new and sometimes shocking fast-food items, including Cool Ranch Doritos Locos from Taco Bell, Pizza Hut’s new Pizza Sliders, McDonald’s FishMcBites and, most recently, Denny’s BBQ Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites.

Clearly we’ve tasted them all.

Before you try any of these new items, check out what we had to say about them in our slide show.

Denny's BBQ Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese Bites

Hazelnut Macchiato at Starbucks

So what exactly IS a macchiato, technically speaking? For those not in the know, it's an espresso drink with a very small amount of foamed milk dotted on top (macchiato means 'marked' as in marked with a small amount of milk).

Starbucks' popular caramel macchiato has been on the menu for decades, but they've just now add another flavored variation to the mix.

We recall the former to be a sugar bomb, as it's topped with caramel sauce, but we were pleasantly surprised to find the new hazelnut drink not too sweet at all. In fact, it wasn't much of anything - not too heavy on the hazelnut or sugar and not carrying that trademark 'over roasted' Starbucks flavour. It basically just tasted like a latte with a hint of hazelnut. And can you have that much foamed milk and still call the thing a macchiato? The drink is available both hot and iced at locations around the U.S.

Pizza Hut Big Pizza Sliders

McDonald's Fish McBites

Before we get into how they taste, let's take a minute to discuss just how much attention fast-food chains are devoting to fishy items this time of year. As you might recall from the Super Bowl commercial, Hardee's has a sexy charbroiled Atlantic Cod sandwich on offer (hawked by a bikini-clad Nina Agdal pounding one on the beach); Wendy's has been advertising its premium fish fillet sandwich; and Time magazinewonders if fish is the new chicken (more on this topic coming Saturday). There's been a marked movement on the part of fast-food chains to sell people on the fact that they're using high-quality fish products and the McBites are no exception.

Mickey D's announced recently that all its eateries would serve MSC-certified sustainable fish and the side of the McBites carton stipulates that they contain 'white, flaky Alaskan pollock.' How does it serve them tastewise? Well, from what we can gander, these are in fact made with actual fish. They look and taste like it. Check out a close-up below . . .

We'll save you the suspense - these things taste basically like frozen fish sticks. The texture is actually soft and flaky, and the crust is crumbly and crisp and seasoned with a ton of what tastes like black pepper. One co-worker remarked: 'I actually like these, because it tastes like what it's supposed to taste like, unlike with a McNugget, where you have no idea what meat you're actually eating.' The location we visited was out of the tartar dipping sauce, but these things were tasty enough on their own. You also get a fair amount of the little suckers for a measly $1 - there were about eight in the container. Although, like the many other low-priced items at Mickey D's, you've gotta wonder about the level of food quality reflected in the bargain-basement price tag.

Taco Bell Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos

Appearancewise, this thing resembles any ordinary Taco Bell taco. When it comes to taste, the Cool Ranch Doritos flavour adds something that the regular Doritos shell doesn't. If you recall from our taste-test of the original Doritos Locos, the taste is not much different than a regular Taco Bell taco, with an extra punch of cheesiness at the end. The Cool Ranch seasoning actually adds another layer of flavour taco in a good way.

Burger King Chicken Nuggets

Burger King brazenly launched their (semi) tempura-breaded Chicken Nuggets (formerly BK Crown Tenders) at stores nationwide this winter. This happened after weeks of ads that displayed the nuggets artfully photographed atop a wooden board as if they were Italian charcuterie. Of course, our team of Zagat staffers couldn't help but weigh in. Ahead, we share our unedited first responses to the nuggets, as well as other new menu items, including the Philly Original Chicken Sandwich, Molten Fudge Bites and the LTO return of Cheesy Tots.

Kelly: These nuggets look jaundiced. It's like Steven Soderbergh shot them.

Alex: (Takes a bite.) Mmm . . . fantastic.

Justin: I feel like the nuggets absorbed all the saliva out of my mouth. It just dried my mouth out completely.

Amanda: It makes me want McDonald's chicken nuggets.

Burger King Philly Original Chicken Sandwich

(Debate ensues about who is actually going to have to try it. James concedes.)

James: It tastes like Wonder Bread and like . . . nothing.

Kelly: Let's never speak of it again.

Burger King Cheesy Tots

Amanda: It tastes like a risotto ball.

Kelly: Yes, although it's supposed to taste like potato. These are the best of the four.

Justin: Agree.

Burger King Molten Bites

Jackie: Molten what?

Kelly: Exactly.

James: That sounds toxic. (Takes a bite.) Oh, wow, these are great!

Jackie: My mouth hurts now.

James: They're like microwave Duncan Hines chocolate cake bites . . . in a good way.

Heinz Real JalapeƱo Ketchup

If you blog about it, it will come. We told you about Heinz's new Real Jalapeño ketchup, which hit shelves officially in January 2013. Here are some Zagat staffers' unedited first responses:

Kelly: It just tastes sweeter to me. Does it still have high-fructose corn syrup in it? (Reads label.) Yup.

James: It's great. I would put this on everything. I like having spice on my burger, but when you order jalapeños on your burger in a restaurant, sometimes it's so overwhelmingly spicy. This is much more subtle.

Charlotte: It actually tasted a little fresher and more homemade than regular Heinz. It can appeal to anyone also, not just spice fiends.

Jackie: I burned my tongue before I ate this, so I can't tell how spicy it is . . . it's good, though.

Justin: Oh, it's good. It's definitely spicy. I wouldn't want this on fries, maybe on a burger.

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