Welcome to Corner Store Food Critic, where we select an item typically found at any number of corner stores in San Francisco, bring said item home in a carefully wrapped bag, and then taste it in private. Seeing as how that, in a pinch, many of us eat entire meals bought solely at barely-lit corner markets and liquor stores, we now see it as our duty to examine the crud you shove down your throat during moments of drunken weakness or sheer hunger/laziness. That tin of deviled ham? Hellacious-looking Rockstar derivative? Bizarre Skittles flavor concoction? New Hot Pocket flavor? Those bottles of viscous water with chunks of aloe plant floating inside? We'll cover that and more. In this edition, we get our hands dirty with Tapatío-tinged Dorito dust.

Frito-Lay's Dorito brand, often maligned for being aimed at stoners and XBox owners, actually has long history of flavor experimentation. The taste geniuses at Doritos have cooked up their (ostensibly) corn chips in flavors ranging from the dull ("Toasted Corn!"*) to the inspired ("Madden NFL '11 Stadium Nachos") and from concrete ("Hot Wings") to the abstract ("Late Night: Tacos at Midnight").

For our taste, we prefer the simpler varieties, especially those that lend themselves well to adjectives like "fiery" or "flaming", but that's because we've long since obliterated our taste buds with too-hot coffees and gobs of sour patch kids. That said, Doritos may have finally found their sweet spot with the Tapatío cross-branding.

While it's still a far cry from the company's roots with their delightfully ambiguous "Taco" flavor, the Tapatío variety really hit home. The real world connection to a product that we'd actually enjoy eating (that'd be the Tapatío) makes the dirty, finger-staining experience of eating Doritos on one's couch feel that much more legitimate. [Pro-tip: Those who eat every meal in front of a computer know that cleanest possible way to eat a bag of Doritos is with a set of chopsticks, thus preventing the spicy keyboard conundrum.]


In theory, Tapatío Doritos are the holy grail of snack foods for the lazy former surburbanite-turned-urban taco forager. And we know there are plenty of those folks around here.

As to the actual taste - we'd generally describe it as "accurate" as far as the Tapatío bit goes. It's spicy with the slightly vinegary aftertaste of the hot sauce, but not nearly as forward with the heat as say, the Flamas variety. Still, the slow burn is a welcome change for those of us who like to dump half a bag down our gullet before actually pausing for a taste. Texture-wise, there seems to be an extra layer of spicedust here, which adds to the heft of each individual corn chip and enhances the feeling that one has just unloaded half a bottle of mediocre hot sauce on a bag of too-salty corn chips. It works, to say the least.

For our money, the 99-cent Big Bag is well worth it and just small enough to prevent too many feelings of regret when we inevitably reach the end. We'd also be remiss if we didn't point out that Sabritas (Frito-Lay's latin-flavored sub-brand) also markets Tapatío flavored Ruffles chips. The Ruffles work, we suppose, but we're still not entirely sold on chips that seem designed to make the roof of your mouth bleed profusely.

*Speaking of "Toasted Corn!" [sic], could someone at Frito-Lay kindly explain how that is not a repackaged bag of Tostitos?

PREVIOUSLY: Milano Melts

Have a corner store food item you're too afraid to try? Let us do the dirty work for you: email us.