Taco Bell Goes Gourmet, Insists It’s Not Because of Chipotle

We chatted with chef Lorena Garcia, who is behind the new Cantina menu, about where Taco Bell is going with late-night binges

Cantina Bell Menu Items

Taco Bell recently announced the national launch of their Cantina Bell menu July 5, with gourmet bowls and burritos for less than $5. Sure, it's not as fantastically gimmicky as the Doritos infestation going on, but who is the lady behind the menu? Lorena Garcia, from the upcoming summer season of Bravo's Top Chef Masters. ("I didn’t know I was a crybaby but it made me cry, like, twice," she said of the show.)

The Daily Meal chatted with Garcia about developing the Cantina Bell menu, but when we brought up the Chipotle-like items, she simply said it came with the territory. "Taco Bell has Mexican-inspired recipes because that’s what calls to the American audience," Garcia said, "But at the end of the day we are Latinos and we have our methods of cooking, our language, and our ingredients as a common denominator."

As for her thoughts on the Doritos Locos Taco (which Taco Bell has sold 100 million of), "I love it," Garcia said. "I think it’s delicious. I only eat it when I really want to because I can’t have 10 in one sitting. But we want to have a choice, to have Doritos Locos Tacos on a Saturday night with my girlfriends, and I want to have my burrito bowl on a weekday."

Currently, the Cantina Bell menu has a Cantina Bowl and Cantina Burrito, with ingredients like citrus- and herb-marinated chickan and fire-roasted corn salsa, but Garcia sees the menu developing and adding on steaks and carnitas, different salsas, and more. "It's not a marketing campaign, it's a new platform," she said. The new menu goes national July 5. Check out The Daily Meal's review of the Cantina Bell menu here.