MERCEDES — The first time I’d heard of the legendary Hot Cheeto pizza from Moran’s Pizzeria, I was on the phone with my soon-to-be girlfriend.
If my memory serves me correctly, I believe we were discussing some of the more interesting food options offered in and around the Rio Grande Valley, and this particular pizza surely fit that particular category.
“I’d like to take you there, someday,” she’d said. “They also have a pizza that’s made with taco ingredients.”
I remember being intrigued by the idea. More than anything, I remember imagining her with a little red mustache of Hot Cheeto dust, and immediately falling in love with her.
Needless to say, we made it … to Moran’s.
Walking in, I was greeted with the sound of Primer Impacto playing from the televisions mounted on the walls in the dining area. Aside from myself, my girlfriend, and the restaurant’s workers, there was no one else inside the restaurant.
We walked up to the counter, and were welcomed by a young woman who placed two menus on the counter. The restaurant offers a variety of pizzas, both gourmet and specialty. We’re here for the specialty pizzas.
Without hesitating, my girlfriend ordered the taco pizza. The menu describes it as having two layers of cheese on homemade pizza dough, topped with bistek, grilled onions, fresh cilantro and avocado. It is served with limes and guacamole salsa. That would be one half of the pizza.
For the other half, she ordered the meat lovers pizza, which comes with pepperoni, Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, and smoked (AMERICAN!) bacon.
I decided that we weren’t quite reaching the full potential offered to us from the twisted minds of Moran’s Pizzeria, so I decided to order another half and half pizza.
On one side, I ordered the Hot Cheeto pizza. You read that right, cuh. According to the menu, the pizza comes topped with two layers of cheese, Hot Cheetos, nacho cheese, jalapeños, and even more Hot Cheetos. Don’t worry, no quema.
I asked the woman behind the counter for her recommendation for our last half of pizza. She recommended a pizza called the Luz special. This pizza comes with mini boneless wings, more like little nuggets, French fries, ranch dressing and buffalo sauce.
We were told that our order would be brought out to us in five minutes. I was tempted to start a timer, but I decided to give the worker the benefit of the doubt.
We took our seats at a booth beside a tastefully (no pun intended) decorated wall with photographs of the crazy concoction pizzas and watched a mob of people fighting inside a Walmart on the TV.
As I watched the cellphone footage of women pulling hair and punching each other on the screen, I began to grow a bit nervous about what we’d just ordered.
I briefly made eye-contact with one of the kitchen staff. He had a large clear bag of Hot Cheetos in his hand, and he looked pretty angry. I have a theory that the meaner the kitchen worker, the better the food will be. From the looks of it, this meal will be divine.
The pizzas were brought to our table, and they were glorious. I immediately placed a slice of the taco pizza on my plate, and poured some of the creamy guacamole salsa on top. It’s exactly as advertised. It tasted like a pizza and a taco had a baby — a delicious Tex-Mex baby. The toppings were fresh, and the bistek was savory and tender.
I followed this up with a slice of the Luz special. The fries were crispy and salty. The boneless chicken was a bit dry, but not too bad. I happen to be a big fan of eating pizza with ranch dressing, so the ranch on this pizza definitely earned points for me.
The meat lovers pizza, while less flamboyant than its half-brothers on our plates, would’ve been worth the drive alone. It was meaty (obviously), cheesy, and the crust was baked to crispy and fluffy perfection.
It was finally time to try the Hot Cheeto pizza. I think I heard a requiem bell tolling somewhere as the large slice with a small mountain of red Hot Cheeto dust plopped onto my plate.
“Am I OK? Is this a cry for help? Why do I do this to myself?” I asked myself. Then I looked into my girlfriend’s beautiful eyes and I immediately remembered why I do this. I do this for you, my dear reader. I do this for the billions upon billions of followers, I mean readers, around the world who depend on my restaurant reviews. With each new review, we grow stronger. We can’t be stopped. I must persevere.
I think I remember my girlfriend clapping her hands and cheering me on as I took my first bite.
Needless to say, the pizza tasted … interesting. It is what it is. It’s Hot Cheetos and nacho cheese on a pizza crust. Like the time I watched “The Passion of the Christ,” it was good the first time, but I don’t know that I’ll ever do it again.
Overall, it was a great experience and a fantastic meal.
Moran’s Pizzeria is located at 3403 East Mile 11 North in Mercedes. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 3 to 9 p.m.