Taco Bell’s new ‘Cantina’ menu attempts to class up the place, Chipotle-style

Taco Bell

There’s no busier fast food chain than Taco Bell lately. First, there were Los Doritos Locos tacos, then there were rumblings of Cool Ranch Dorito tacos. And now, in shocking left turn, the franchise has decided to go both highbrow and lowbrow at the same time, taking a shot at Chipotle by offering a new, upscale  “Cantina Bell” series of entrees to be unleashed on the population on July 5th.

This new subsection of the Taco Bell menu will feature a Cantina Burrito Bowl and a Cantina Burrito, with ingredients that suspiciously resemble Chipotle’s menu items: black beans, “fire-roasted” corn salsa, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, citrus and herb-marinated chicken. However, while Chipotle’s cheapest meals are at least eight dollars, the Taco Bell equivalent will cost about three dollars less. The new menu will also offer sides of guacamole, chips, black beans and rice.

Lorena Garcia, a Miami chef previously featured on “America’s Next Great Restaurant” is the face of the campaign, having created the new menu that according to a Taco Bell spokesperson “created a high-quality, value-driven lineup of new offerings and new ingredients that would create a broader array of tastes and flavors our consumers are seeking.” She also emphasized “more ingredients per item and smaller amounts, while improving the build and presentation of the food.”

So is Chipotle going to take this challenge lying down? Spokesman for that company Chris Arnold totally pulled a power move. When asked by MSNBC about the new Taco Bell menu, the Chipotle rep responded:

There’s a lot more to what we do than black beans and corn salsa. What makes Chipotle work is more ingredients from sustainable sources with traditional cooking methods in a comfortable environment. There’s a lot of soul behind the menu.

Executive vice president of Technomic, consulting group, echoed Chipotle’s thoughts on this new competition.  

“I think because of the number of [Taco Bells] they have a bigger opportunity to move their current customers up to a higher price point rather than take customers from Chipotle,” he told MSNBC.

Burn! That’s right Taco Bell, pack up your avocado masher and go home.


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