One of fast-casual Mexican restaurant Centro’s best-selling dishes is its Crunch, an homage to Taco Bell’s late-night favorite, the Crunchwrap Supreme. Stuffed with nacho cheese, sour cream, crisp lettuce and tomatoes, and a generous layer of seasoned ground beef, the dish has the satisfying weightiness of a burrito with the crunch of a tostada. It’s so popular, in fact, that Centro has created an entirely new spinoff brand, Hippo Pockets. These handheld, tortilla-wrapped pockets are modeled on the Crunch but include flavors like cheeseburger, Philly cheesesteak, and pizza.
Riffs on Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme have permeated the culinary world in recent years, from restaurants to home kitchens. This makes sense, as it’s a decidedly tasty dish, but as Brooke Jackson-Glidden wrote for Eater Portland, part of the appeal is that Crunchwrap Supremes sit at the axis of pure nostalgia and “meme food” — dishes that have pop culture traction on the internet. Accordingly, Hippo Pocket’s art campaign has both Instagram sheen and throwback appeal. In one shot, the Hippo Pockets are styled with a Millennial pink background, a twisty candle, and a bouquet of flowers. In another, they rest on a school lunch tray beside a Nintendo set. Even the beverage selection has one foot in 2005, and the other in 2023: the Hippo Pockets menu offers brightly colored bubble teas alongside pouches of Capri Sun.
Centro is running Hippo Pocket as a “cloud kitchen” out of its Eat Street location, which means it’s only available for delivery and pick-up. As great as the original beef-and-cheese is, the other varieties are worth trying: The chicken and waffles is saucy and satisfying, and the Royale, stuffed with a cheeseburger and neatly stacked French fries, succeeds in a tortilla/tostada format. Other Hippo Pockets include chicken bacon ranch, pizza crunch, the Philly (with caramelized beef and cheese whiz), and one sweet option, the S’Mores. The menu is currently live and available daily from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with lunch hours coming soon.