Taco Bell Testing Out Chipotle-Style Menu

Categories: Chain Reactions
Undated publicity photo

We reported last week that 
Taco Bell was adding breakfast to its repretoire of chalupas and MexiMelts®; but apparently the Irvine-based company isn't settling with just eggs and cheese in an attempt to revitalize their brand. 

If things go according to plan, 2012 might see the most significant menu overhaul in the 50-year-old chain's history. Starting this week, and in the hopes to pep up lagging sales, Taco Bell is testing Chipotle-style food it's dubbing its "Cantina Bell" line in Bakersfield, California and Louisville, Kentucky. The company is after the Chipotle dollar.

Looking at the hard numbers reveals why. Same-store sales at Chipotle grew a reported 11.3% in its latest quarter while Taco Bell saw its numbers taking a dive. Sales at Taco Bell's restaurants went flat in the first quarter of last year, declined 5% in the second and then decreased 2% in the third quarter. 

According to Reuters and a number of other sources, the new menu, which was principally conceived by Lorena Garcia, a Miami-based chef who coincidentally appeared with Chipotle founder Steve Ells on America's Next Great Restaurant, should look familiar to those familiar to Chipotle, consisting of grilled corn salsa, black beans, and cilantro rice. Though it's priced a few bucks less than its competitor ($5 compared to the about $8 at Chipotle) the offerings will include the usual staples of burritos, tacos and bowls. 

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John Olsen
John Olsen

will these be processed through the same Central Kitchen that all the other Taco Hell synthafood comes from?  The main problem with them is that too much, maybe all of their food, is centrally processed and just assembled and heated at the stores.  Certainly allows them to hire teenagers with zero skills or experience but there is no cooking going on at these places.

Mai Kol
Mai Kol

Nice Looks refreshing considering the following if it tastes half as good as it looks they should sell at least a little bit more. I doubt it's going to knock anything of Chipotle though, they have a hood, most possibly affect sales of Jack in the Box or Burger King.


I'm fascinated that they chose Bakersfield, California and Louisville, Kentucky as test markets for this product line.  Because nothing says "upscale Mexican cuisine" like the oilfields off Highway 99!


The irvine T-bell on Jamboree has those items and they are awful

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