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We Tried Tostitos' Super Bowl 2024 Pop-Up Restaurant: Was It A Touchdown?

Tost sign
Tost sign - Michael Palan / Static Media

As the official chip and dip of the NFL, the Tostitos brand is often found being munched on at Super Bowl parties. In 2023, Frito-Lay brought an innovative dinner party — Tost by Tostitos — to the Super Bowl, which was held in Arizona that year. Before the 49ers and Chiefs kicked off for Super Bowl LVIII, Tost by Tostitos returned for a three-day crunchy engagement in Las Vegas. From February 8 to 10, 12 to 9 p.m., lunch or dinner was on the house, courtesy of Frito-Lay.

In a press release (via PR Newswire), Kristin Kroepfl, vice president of marketing at Frito-Lay said, "We're going 'all in' with an immersive, three-floor dining experience, giving people nationwide the chance to taste Tostitos chips and dips in culinary masterpieces." Corn is the key ingredient and can be found all over the three different menus: Chef's Table, Dining Room, and Lounge.

The fine folks at Frito-Lay saved us a seat in the Tost dining room for a family-style meal for all to share and enjoy. With four courses, and a dessert to top it all off, there was a lot to inhale and then unpack. It may be a little too late to snag a reservation, but I'm here to let you know which dishes were the toast of Tost, and which were perhaps a little too corny. The following ranking of dishes is based on taste, texture, presentation, inventiveness, and overall lovability; you can find further details on how we chose at the end of the article.

Some recommendations are based on first-hand impressions of promotional materials and products provided by the manufacturer.

Read more: The One Restaurant You Need To Visit In Every State

5. Moroccan Chicken Tagine (Third Course)

Tostitos Moroccan Chicken Tagine
Tostitos Moroccan Chicken Tagine - Michael Palan / Static Media

The third course was Moroccan Chicken Tagine. On a plate, each diner was presented with a single small chip that held up a mound of drab colors, lightly spruced up by stray pomegranate seeds and leaves of cilantro. Even though everything looked to have a moistness to it, I got the sense that it might run a little dry. Taking a whiff of the pile of crumbles atop the chip, it ran somewhere between a chicken chili and a kitchen getting ready for Thanksgiving.

The little round chip was a Tostitos Tostinas Chile Limon and was thicker and sturdier than a standard Tostito tortilla chip. Despite being weighed down by all its other elements, the chip's crunch held up quite well throughout each bite. What looked like kernel corn from afar was actually soft Near East pearled couscous, which makes sense, as couscous is a standard ingredient found in the recipe for chicken tagine. The chicken was slightly pulled and seasoned with garlic, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon, dried apricots, orange zest, harissa, honey, and chicken stock. All those strong elements somehow didn't add up into a full flavor and thus didn't make too much of an impact to my palate.

In the end, it was a slightly messy snack that looked small but led to multiple bites and tasted like a pasty chicken chili. Although visible in the dish, somehow left behind was the pop that the pomegranate seeds should have provided.

4. Chilaquiles Skillet (Second Course)

Tostitos Chilaquiles Skillet
Tostitos Chilaquiles Skillet - Michael Palan / Static Media

Chilaquiles are a fried tortilla dish that's often found at breakfast time, but I was very much looking forward to having them as part of this dinner. These were served in a piping-hot black skillet, which lent this second course dish its name -- Chilaquiles Skillet. Even inhaling the contents gave me the essence of warmth, with a strong cheesy smell leading the way.

Tostitos Salsa Verde chips were the backbone of this particular dish and were beautifully drowned in a sea of wavy Mexican crema, Oaxaca cheese, grated quesadilla cheese, grated Pepper Jack, crumbled Cotija cheese, and torn leaves of cilantro. Pulling up one of the chips, I was almost surprised to see some black beans keeping quiet underneath. What I didn't initially see, either, was a fat chunk of avocado hiding in plain sight, smothered in the crema and cilantro. Chilaquiles are messy by nature, and I didn't mind one bit getting my hands dirty with this one. While these chilaquiles could have used a bit of spice to liven them up, the salty black beans helped to bail them out. Naturally, the chips got a little soggy, being bogged down with all the toppings, including salsa verde, but they still made for a nice dish overall.

3. Barbacoa Arepas (Fourth Course)

Tostitos Barbacoa Arepas
Tostitos Barbacoa Arepas - Michael Palan / Static Media

The fourth and final main dish was an adorable pair of Barbacoa Arepas. These stuffed-to-the-gills guys looked like a clam-shelled Pac-Man gobbling a mass of meat, which emitted a very savory beefy smell. The barbacoa beef was infused with onion, garlic, chipotle in adobo, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, cumin, oregano, kosher salt, pepper, clove, beef stock, and a dash of Tostitos Medium Chunky Salsa for good measure. The beef was punctuated with some chunky, pretty-in-dark-pink pickled onions, refried beans, flecks of crumbled queso fresco, and blending-in-the-background refried beans.

The only tiny drawback with this solid offering was that since most of the ingredients were literally spilling out of the slightly toasted corn arepas, most of the good stuff took up only half of their space. By the time I gobbled down the dominant and delicious savory beef, all that was left to take down were the remains of the soft cornmeal arepa buns. Looking back on all the dishes, I kind of wished they were all topped with those vinegary pickled onions, which added a nice counterbalance here to the meat's heartiness.

2. Tostitos Ice Cream Taco (Dessert Course)

Tostitos Ice Cream Taco
Tostitos Ice Cream Taco - Michael Palan / Static Media

Saving room for dessert proved to be hard after tackling a four-course meal, a seemingly endless bowl of chips, salsa, and wickedly spicy queso dip, and a pair of inventive cocktails -- the Frozen Smoke and Tost by Tostitos Margarita. Alas, I was up to the challenge when the charming Tostitos Ice Cream Taco arrived in a small stand. By the look and sound of it, the immediate thought of a Choco Taco came to mind, but the one conjured up at Tost was certainly not your average, prepackaged, overly frozen type.

The taco shell was icy cold to the touch and partially dipped in chocolate on its sides, with the chocolate completely covering it at its top. Embedded within the frozen-in-place dark chocolate was a happy helping of ground-up tortilla chips and flaked salt, which was literally an excellent icing to this crunchy cake. It was like munching on an elevated version of the top of a Drumstick ice cream cone.

Once I penetrated the crunchy surface, a melty white ice cream spilled out into my mouth and, with a hint of lime, created a cornucopia of flavoring. The Tostitos Ice Cream Taco was a fantastic crunchy melding where sweetness and saltiness played really nice. I'm kind of sad this only exists in the kitchen of Tost and not in the aisles of grocery stores or doled out through the window of an ice cream truck.

1. Thai Corn Fried Shrimp (First Course)

Tostitos Thai Corn Fried Shrimp
Tostitos Thai Corn Fried Shrimp

It's always good to start a meal off on a high note, and no note in my Tost dining experience hit a higher one than the first course served — Thai Corn Fried Shrimp. Sadly, each eater only got a single shrimp to devour, but this solitary curved crustacean packed a lot of punch all by itself. The shrimp was encrusted with a panko-like coating of Tostitos Cantina Traditional chips. With each bite, the hard outside gave way to the soft, super warm, and tender shrimp, which was ready to pop up and make some delicious noise.

The shrimp floated atop a punchy pool of nam prik dipping sauce. To those not familiar with it, it's like a sweet and sour dipping sauce, and Tost's take was made up of Thai sweet chili sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, fried garlic, Thai chilies, Thai basil, and thinly sliced green onions.

The crust of the shrimp was so excellent that I was gnawing on the very last morsels of the flakes that were still hanging around on the shrimp's left-behind exoskeletal shell. The nam prik sauce was no slouch, either, and I was forking up whatever was left, like it was a tangy soup. Luckily, my waiter could tell that I really enjoyed this dish, so much so that they brought out a round of seconds. I wouldn't have minded if ten more helpings made their way to my table.

Methodology

Chef cooking
Chef cooking - Michael Palan / Static Media

This ranking is only based on the five dishes presented at Tost by Tostitos as part of the Dining Room menu and does not include the items in the Chef's Table or Lounge menus. The meal was shared by myself and a guest, and together we took into consideration the taste, texture, smells, presentation, inventiveness, and overall lovability of each dish to come up with a ranking from pretty darn good to best.

As few will have been able to make it to the complimentary event in Las Vegas, the fine people at Frito-Lay have provided recipes on how to make the dishes at home. I'm not sure if I would be able to recreate the magic that is the Thai Corn Fried Shrimp myself, but the memory of its deliciousness will last long after the clock has run out on Super Bowl LVIII.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.