Discontinued Taco John's Items We'll Never Eat Again

Even if you're not from the Midwest, where this Mexican-American fast food chain first called home, you have probably heard of Taco John's. A great competitor to the likes of Taco Bell, Taco John's is well-known for its signature Potato Olés and Mexican Donut Bitesas well as a variety of other Americanized Mexican dishes. It's also infamous for its longstanding trademark on the term "Taco Tuesday" (although that one's still being contested).

With this quick-service restaurant being around since 1969, it's no wonder that it has cycled through many menu items that it doesn't sell anymore. From long-lost childhood favorites to bizarre food inventions that failed to find a place on the permanent menu, here's a list of Taco John's discontinued items that we have bid goodbye to over the years and may never see again. Is your old go-to order on this list? Keep on reading to find out.

Bean-filled Potato Olés

If you've ever eaten at a Taco John's, you can probably recall its signature Potato Olés from memory. They're crunchy golden potato rounds seasoned with the perfect hint of spiciness and salt that you can never get enough of. Introduced in 1979, this signature TJ's specialty forever changed the game for all potato dishes for years to come.

But did you know that the golden nuggets we have today are actually a downgrade from the original? Back when they were first introduced, the famous Potato Olés originally came with a fun little surprise with every bite — in the shape of a bean. That's right, every single tater tot came with a hidden bean bursting with nutty and earthy goodness, perfect to balance out that rich potato flavor we all know and love.

Although their modern counterparts are unfortunately bean-less, any visit to Taco John's is incomplete without these round crunchy potato bites to absentmindedly munch on. Today, you can get Potato Olés scramblers topped with eggs, peppers, onions, tomatoes, a melty four cheese blend, and either bacon or sausage. You can also get them dipped into your favorite nacho cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or salsa. Whether or not you think Potato Olés were definitely better with the bean inside, we can all still agree that the bite-sized, deep-fried Taco John's staple holds a special place in our hearts.

Cini-Sopapilla Bites

Adding to the long list of Taco John castoffs is a pioneer of TJ's dessert section — the long-forgotten Cini-Sopapilla Bites. Though this item may sound unfamiliar, any avid Taco John's knows its cinnamony, doughy, and sweet flavor profile. If that description reminds you of TJ's Mexican Donut Bites, then here's a fun fact for you: Cini-Sopapilla Bites were actually the first rendition of the signature snack.

In fact, our dearly beloved Mexican Donut Bites are a combination of two past versions of the sweet pastry. There were Cini-Sopapilla Bites sprinkled with cinnamon and Glazed Sopapilla Bites that were topped with cream cheese icing. These decadent delights debuted on one of TJ's first-ever takes on its famous value menu. The Cini-Sopapilla Bites sold for only 99 cents.

Developed during the tiny dessert food trend of the time, the Cini-Sopapilla Bites were inspired by sopapillas, a traditional fried pastry delicacy from Latin America. These-mini desserts became immensely popular during the holiday season when they were promoted alongside TJ's iconic Nachos Navidad. However, customers frequently requested to get bite-sized cinnamon rolls with both the cinnamon coating AND the cream cheese frosting. Thus, In 2014, Taco John's added Mexican Donut Bites to the menu — and the love child we have today was born.

Though we may never get to choose between cinnamon-dusted or icing-covered treats ever again, maybe we should be thanking Taco John's for making the tough decision for us and offering us all the goodness in one bite.

Santa Fe Burritos & Bowls

While Taco John's menu has no shortage of classic offerings and trendy, limited-time options, there may never be another masterpiece like the Santa Fe Burritos & Bowls. Unveiled in 2013, customers were able to dictate how overstuffed they wanted their burritos to be or how many toppings they wanted on their bowls.

After choosing between a burrito or bowl and between regular or large sizes, customers could also take their pick of shredded beef or chile lime chicken, as well as three different types of homemade sauces ranging from mild roasted corn, medium smoky chipotle, or a hotter chile de arbol salsa. To top it all off, an assortment of cilantro-lime rice, seasoned black beans, sour cream, and cheese were available as toppings. It sounds like it was an attempt to emulate Chipotle's successful model. 

Taco John's wanted consumers to have control over the food they order — an innovation that was more typical in the fast-casual space at the time. So why didn't the Santa Fe line get a permanent seat at the Taco John's table? Out of everything on this list, the Santa Fe Burritos & Bowls may be the item that we miss the most. Hopefully, Taco John's finally sees reason and brings this discontinued and dearly missed item back on the menu soon.

Apple Grande

Name something more nostalgic than apple pie — if you don't think you can, you probably would have liked Taco John's Apple Grandes.

These apple pie filling-covered tortillas were the go-to treat for those looking for something a little closer to Americana comfort while still keeping that Taco John's Mexican twist. Coated in cinnamon and sugar and topped with crushed cinnamon candy and bits of shredded cheese, the Apple Grande was an underrated gem that could not only satiate your sweet tooth, but your weird tooth as well. 

If you're wondering what happened to something so essential to the Taco John's brand, the company disclosed that the discontinuation of the Apple Grande in 2013 was because of government labeling requirements. However, to everyone's surprise, TJ's announced the following year that it was bringing it back for a limited time due to popular demand.

When everyone thought the dessert was forever gone, Taco John's revealed the return of the fan-favorite five years later alongside a Holiday promotion that called the Apple Grandes the ugly sweater of desserts. But within a month, the restaurant announced that the long-awaited confection was once again headed for the vaults. Talk about betrayal! Whether you're pro or anti-apple-and-cheese, we can all agree Taco John's needs to stop playing with our hearts and finally grant us the deliciously baked tortilla apple pies we all deserve.

Flamin' Hot Cheetos Burrito

While Taco John's certainly should be praised for its timeless classics such as its fast food tacos and breakfast burritos, that's not to say it hasn't been experimental too — especially when we know that it once had a Flamin' Hot Cheetos Burrito on its menu in 2014. Cheetos collaborations throughout the years have been hit-or-miss (just take the Hot Dog On A Stick Cheetos or the Flamin' Hot Cheetos Ice Cream, for example). But true fast food and snack connoisseurs know that anything goes as long as it's warmly wrapped in a burrito.

Featuring spicy chorizo as the protein base, a layer of ooey-gooey nacho cheese sauce, chile de arbol salsa, jalapeno slices, and fiery red Flamin' Hot Cheetos all jam-packed in a tortilla, this savory and surprisingly crunchy concoction was perfect for those with an appetite for spicier, bolder flavors.

While this genius collaboration wasn't always for everyone, it surely got Taco John's name out there, that's for sure. This item is long gone, but if you're up for it, you can still order a similar, however slightly tamer spicy burrito with Taco John's Spicy Chorizo Breakfast Burrito. This flavor-packed meal is sure to awaken your mornings with many of the same delicious ingredients but with the added goodness of scrambled eggs and a distinct lack of Cheetos — whether that's good news to you or not.

Sauce-A-Lotta Enchiladas

If you're someone who prefers enchiladas instead of burritos and you subscribe to a "the more the merrier" philosophy when it comes to how much sauce should go on your dishes, then the Taco John's Sauce-A-Lotta Enchiladas would have been a sure hit for you.

Announced to the public in 2020, the famed enchiladas were a part of the brand's Full Up Menu as a limited-time item — and they were as perfect as their name suggested. Served on platters filled with black beans, cilantro lime rice, shredded lettuce, and tomatoes, customers could amp up the sauciness with either red sauce or white queso — all topped with a satisfying dollop of sour cream, of course.

Enchiladas are usually only served at dine-in Mexican restaurants, where customers sit down and take on the dish with a fork. However, Taco John's saw an opportunity to serve this well-loved meal with the convenience of a typical quick-service restaurant. This, coupled with the promise of extra plump and generously sauced enchiladas, made the Sauce-A-lotta Enchiladas a tempting offering. Sadly, good things never last. 

Original Hot Sauce

While some of the other items on this list caused massive uproars on Taco John's social media, here's one change that may have flown under your radar: that packet of hot sauce you're having today didn't always look — and taste — like that.

If you're walking into a Mexican-style fast food chain, you're definitely not afraid to dabble in a bit of spiciness. But with almost every restaurant brandishing its own unique hot sauce nowadays, the competition for the best fast food hot sauce is steep. This is why we care about whether or not the new sauce not only holds up against the competition but against its predecessor as well.

If you were to taste the two sauces side-by-side, you'd definitely appreciate the complexity lent by the tart tomatoes and the sharp and fresh green chilis that were found in the original. However, the revised version may be the more complex and spicier sauce with its aromatic onion and garlic base, blend of arbol, habanero, and guajillo powders, and classic medley of cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, and paprika. But here's the sad part: there was significantly more sauce in the previous 9-gram packet than the 5-gram one that we have today. We advise you to take more sachets from now on, just to be safe.

Baja Boneless Wings

Did you know that in 2011, Taco John's had platters of boneless wings topping its sales charts? Once offered for only a limited time, but changed to be a core menu item instead, the special selection was promoted during the peak of the football season with commercials of football fans gorging on piles of beautiful, steaming wings. Suffice it to say, they were a sure hit.

Those lucky enough to order the Baja Boneless Wings could get their high-quality white-meat chicken pieces covered in three distinct Mexican flavors: delicious, buttery hot Bold Buffalo, spicy, sticky, and smoky Sweet Chipotle BBQ, or the fiery but silky smooth Honey Habanero sauce. Taken to-go, dine-in, or drive-thru in small, half-pound, or one-pound sizes, these wings were giving bigger wing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings a run for their money.

While the concept of wings was definitely a bit out there for a Mexican food restaurant, we believe that going beyond convention is what elevates Taco John's as an American-Mexican fusion restaurant. Once they were mysteriously taken off the menu to everyone's surprise, netizens went ahead and made online petitions just to bring back the much-adored wings.

Was it because the wings were a bit too off-brand? Or were they decommissioned due to some unknown corporate conspiracy? At this point, we may never know. We just hope that one day we might see those precious wings again.

Mexican Ice Cream Sandwich

While this long-forgotten Taco John's dessert option may not seem very on-brand or even Mexican at first glance, there's a distinct feature that makes this particular rendition of an ice cream sandwich better than the rest. Advertised as the cool and creamy dessert that you just can't resist, TJ's Mexican Ice Cream Sandwich was made with two Mexican chocolate cookies. We're not sure what exactly that meant in this case, but typically Mexican chocolate is spiked with dashes of earthy cinnamon and even spicy chile pepper. The spiciness would make it the perfect complement to a rich vanilla ice cream filling.

But if Taco John's is not thinking of bringing this discontinued item back, there are plenty of other Mexican desserts we can suggest that you make at home. How about a Tres Leches cake or a Mexican flan-inspired custard? Still, we won't say no to just simply bringing these unique sandwiches back, of course.

Crunchy Chicken

"I've been upset with Taco John's since the day they discontinued one of their best food items, the Crunchy Chicken," says Mason Marriot, the concerned customer who started an online petition to bring back the Taco John's Crunchy Chicken. "The bad thing about this as well is that it seems like they have tried to erase the history of them ever having the chicken."

If you're wondering what got our friend, alongside 257 other signees, so impassioned, is because of Taco John's unfortunate decision to pull the fan favorite out of commission with no plans of bringing it back. Multiple years-long devotees of the restaurant took to Taco John's Facebook to advocate for the Crunchy Chicken's return after the announcement of the dish's apparent replacement: the new Fried Chicken Snacker.

With people saying that the Crunchy Chicken was "the best popcorn-style chicken bites in the whole fast food industry," it's clear that their contemporary counterpart just doesn't cut it. Gone are the days we could order the crispy, tender Crunchy Chicken with the perfect ranch dipping sauce on the side. For it to be on the TJ's menu for so long and just suddenly disappear — we'd be mad too.

If you haven't yet bombarded Taco John's comment sections or reached out to its customer support to voice your opinion on this massive injustice, it's not too late to sign the petition. We promise we'll buy them every single day if only Taco John's brings them back.

Honey BBQ Fried Chicken Taco

You've heard of honey and fried chicken, BBQ sauce and fried chicken, and maybe even fried chicken pieces in a taco. But have you ever tried all of those amazing combinations in one? In 2022, Taco John's unveiled a masterpiece that had its customers nodding in approval.

Just imagine: juicy, crunchy chicken tenders, fresh lettuce, and a sprinkling of cheese, all wrapped in a warm tortilla and drizzled in a smoky-sweet honey BBQ sauce. You can never go wrong with the irresistibly sweet and savory combination of honey blended with the deep flavor of hickory BBQ. Not to mention the added portability that the taco vessel provides, making it the perfect go-to snack for picnics and road trips.

This innovative take on Taco John's Fried Chicken Taco (which is still available today alongside its value meal counterpart, the Mini Fried Chicken Taco) was undoubtedly a step above the rest. We don't know about you, but knowing about this oh-so-delicious combination makes every other taco seem lackluster now, that's for sure.

Sierra Chicken Sandwich

If you've been an avid follower of Taco John's for quite a while now, you'd probably agree that the Sierra Chicken Sandwich might have been the best thing that has ever happened to the franchise. Incidentally, discontinuing the said sandwich was the worst thing the quick-serve restaurant has ever done.

When Taco John's asked the internet what menu item they would like to bring back on a 2014 Facebook post, fans were quick to mention the Sierra Chicken Sandwich — and for good reason. The sandwich was comprised of grilled white-chicken meat deliciously sitting on a layer of TJ's original Sierra sauce, fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and shredded cheese, all warmly wrapped in a fried flatbread. It was definitely unlike the restaurant's standard flour or corn tortilla taco shells.

Fans have been trying to recreate the original and elusive original Sierra sauce since it departed. But when Taco John's brought back the Sierra Chicken Sandwich in July of 2019 for the restaurant's 50th anniversary, all was good again in the world, however shortlived it may have been.