Taco Bell Launching New Upscale Cantina Bell Line July 5th

In an intriguing move, Taco Bell announced its new upscale Cantina Bell line this morning. The line is inspired by chef Lorena Garcia, who has been featured on NBC’s “Today Show” and “America’s Next Great Restaurant” and will appear on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters” later this summer.

Taco Bell’s press release states:

All inspired by Garcia, Cantina Bell will feature eight new ingredients for Taco Bell such as whole black beans, cilantro rice, 100-percent all-white meat chicken in a citrus and herb marinade, guacamole made with 100-percent Hass avocado, fire-roasted corn salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, romaine lettuce and pico de gallo. The Cantina Bell menu items will include veggie options:

  • Cantina Bowl: Chicken ($4.79, 560 calories, 22g total fat. 26g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 540 calories, 21g total fat, 14g protein), Steak ($4.99, 550 calories, 23g total fat, 22g protein)
  • Cantina Burrito: Chicken ($4.79, 760 calories, 27g total fat, 32g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 740 calories, 26g total fat, 20g protein), Steak ($4.99, 750 calories, 28g total fat, 28g protein)

Here’s what the chicken bowl and burrito will look like:

The release continues with in-depth descriptions of the new ingredients:

Black Beans: We use black beans, not refried, and add a Latin Spice Blend of onion, garlic, cumin, chili powder, with other ingredients

Cilantro Rice: Rice cooked in a cilantro seasoning that features onion, garlic, cilantro and parsley

Citrus and Herb Marinated Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breast marinade that features garlic, onion, lemon, cilantro and tomatillo

New Guacamole: Lorena-inspired guacamole made with Hass avocados, and blended with tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lemon juice and other ingredients

Fire-Roasted Corn Salsa: Super Sweet yellow corn and fresh red and green bell peppers, fire roasted, with our Latin Spice Blend

Creamy Cilantro Dressing: Our Lorena-inspired Creamy Cilantro dressing features cilantro blended with oil, lemon juice, vinegar and garlic, and other ingredients

Pico de Gallo: Diced tomatoes and onions blended with fresh chopped cilantro and a tangy dressing made with lemon juice and vinegar

In many ways, the move is similar to what McDonald’s did several years ago with the Angus Burger and Premium Chicken lines: by offering customers two tiers of quality, Taco Bell can capture those who are looking to get filled up on the cheap as well as delving into the fast-casual realm.

At a $4.79 price point, these new menu items are positioned in between their normal menu items and those of Chipotle and QDoba, which run in the $7-8 range. If Taco Bell succeeds in matching their competitors’ quality, the Cantina Bell line has the chance to be exceptional value. While Cantina Bell is backed by a satisfaction guarantee, this is still a major if. I’ll report back as soon as I’m able to try it.

What Taco Bell needs to be wary of is the Domino’s marketing method–and I’m paraphrasing–“Our food used to completely SUCK but we swear it’s good now!” Considering that Cantina Bell is a menu addition and not overhaul, Taco Bell should be careful not to distance itself from its core items.



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