19 August, 2012

Review: Taco Bell's Cantina Menu

Taco Bell has been making a big deal of their new "Cantina Bell" menu, which they're touting as some sort of "gourmet" version of Taco Bell.  Lynnafred and I tried it out.

The Cantina Bowl is citrus-herb marinated chicken, black beans, guacamole, roasted corn-and-pepper salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, and freshly prepared pico de gallo, served on a bed of cilantro rice. Lynnafred enjoyed it - the chicken was flavorful and tender, the salsa was well-seasoned, and the cilantro rice was relatively easy on the cilantro (a good thing for those of us who experience cilantro as overwhelmingly "soap-flavored.")

She also said they are nearly identical to the "Burrito Bowls" sold by the more upscale Chipotle Mexican Grill, at about half the price.

On the other hand, I was totally unimpressed with my Cantina Burrito, which sports the same ingredients as the bowl, except that the whole pile of shit was rolled up in a flour tortilla. It was enormous - I took a pic of it next to a standard full-sized fork to give you an idea of scale - and weighed in at about a pound of food. 

Again, the chicken is moist and flavorful, the salsa is good, the rice is mild on the soapweed aka cilantro, and even the guacamole wasn't bad, but take the whole damn mess and roll it into what amounts to a flour diaper and it's just a jumbled mass of garbage, the appeal of which is totally goddamn lost on me.

Cantina sides are decent, if a little bland. I've already mentioned the roasted corn and pepper salsa, which both Lynnafred and I enjoyed. The Pico de Gallo (pictured) was freshly prepared, but far underseasoned and dead bland. The store-made tortilla chips almost saved the day, though, with their light crispiness and fresh flavor.

For all the crowing Taco Bell is doing about having OMG Famous Latina Chef Lorena Garcia in the kitchen developing recipes, you'd think this Cantina Bell stuff would be so awesome it would knock your sombrero off. While it might be a step in a new direction for Taco Bell and their traditional faux-Mexican menu, I get the distinct impression that Chef Garcia has been putting in some pretty short days.


jcharles00 said...

I had the same experience with the burrito. All the components seemed ok, but together they just tasted like crap.

Christi said...

I LOVED the Cantina bowl. The Cantina burrito was a disappointment.