Taco Bell introduced a new Cantina Bell Steak Burrito Friday featuring upgraded braised meat developed by celebrity chef Lorena Garcia.
The new burrito marks an expansion of the Cantina Bell menu created by Garcia, which launched last year. The more-premium menu positions the quick-service chain to compete with fast-casual competitors such as Chipotle Mexican Grill.
In addition to the Cantina Bell menu, Garcia has also been working on improving Taco Bell’s menu across the board, including reworking the steak and other ingredients. She changed the marinade used for the steak, as well as the cut of the meat, which is prepared by suppliers. The new steak has a darker color and a flavor that Venezuela-born Garcia describes as “unique to the Latin culture.”
As of Friday, all Taco Bell dishes featuring steak — including those not on the Cantina Bell menu — will include Garcia’s version of the meat, the company said.
Garcia has also developed a new salsa, scheduled to roll out this summer, featuring roasted tomatoes, garlic and jalapenos. The salsa won’t replace Taco Bell’s sauce packets but will be a side dish option and part of new dishes like the Double Steak Quesadilla now in test in North Carolina.
The quesadilla also features pepper Jack cheese, a new ingredient for Taco Bell. If successful, it could also be added to the Cantina Bell menu.
The Steak Burrito joins as a protein option for the Cantina Bell menu. For $4.99, the item features the new steak, Latin rice, black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, roasted corn and pepper salsa, romaine lettuce and a creamy cilantro dressing, all wrapped in a warm flour tortilla.
Taco Bell will advertise the new burrito during the Super Bowl pre-game on Feb. 3 with a commercial titled “Grande Papi.” The commercial uses a Spanish version of the 1994 Notorious B.I.G. song “Big Poppa.”
Garcia’s new steak began appearing on the menu last year in one menu item. In November, a new XXL Steak Nacho dish launched, featuring a triple portion of the braised steak with melted cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo over tortilla chips.
With the new Cantina Bell menu, Taco Bell has also added a number of ingredients new to the 5,600-unit chain, such as fresh cilantro, black beans, creamy cilantro dressing, and roasted corn and pepper salsa.
Garcia has hinted that she’s developing a “more relevant” version of a chicken Caesar burrito, as well as other dishes.
Taco Bell also plans to roll out a Doritos Cool Ranch flavored shell for its Doritos Locos Tacos this year. The Irvine, Calif.-based chain has declined to specify the exact date of the roll-out. A Doritos Flamas flavored version of the shell is also in test.
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