Saturday, July 7, 2012

Food Review: Taco Bell Cantina Bowl - is it Chipotle or original Taco Bell?

So even before I heard about the Cantina Bowls being available at my local Taco Bell, I had seen reviews and comments online that commented that these new items were an attempt by Taco Bell to taste like Chipotle. I had seen some really bad reviews of the Cantina Menu containing steak, while the chicken and vegetarian options got okay reviews. So when a coupon came along that offered BOGO for the cantina bowls, I decided to give the chicken cantina bowl a try.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the initial presentation of the Cantina Bowl, typical Taco Bell packaging

copyright Durhamonthecheap - this does look different, the guacamole looks very rich, the salsa and corn fresh!
 So the first impression I had of the Cantina Bowl with chicken was the nice helping of guacamole and the fresh looking salsa and corn salad (?) that was topping a mix of white rice with black beans, lettuce and chicken. Overall, it did look good and I am fan of guacamole, but was somewhat disappointed that no sour creme was added or offered to go with the bowl. I like the tartness of the sour creme with my rice. And while I do not need a lot of sour creme, a little spoonful to me makes all the difference.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - close up of the roasted corn and guacamole
 As I started digging into the very big portion, the flavors came nicely together. I did like the flavor of the guacamole, even though it seemed very rich to me and I would have like some more pronounced lime flavor to lighten the guacamole. The salad overall was fresh, the lettuce was crisp and the rice and black beans were well flavored.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - close up of the fresh salsa with some guacamole and topping rice and black beans
The best flavor addition to the menu was the salsa, nicely chopped in just the right size pieces. I really liked its flavor and would have definitely wished for more. Having only a little bit of salsa, but quite a bit of lettuce and rice and beans did not add enough spice to my bowl. having more salsa would have made for a nice mix of staples like rice and beans, but lightened up with the salsa.
So this is my review of the Cantina Bowl with chicken by Taco Bell. I was happy with the portion size, which was really, really filling and for a snack will serve two people. I would like to see larger percentages of lighter ingredients, such as the salsa or adding more lime juice to the guacamole. Without these additions and in its present form, the Cantina Bowl is filling, but also quite heavy and for a summer meal only recommended for dinner, not as a lunch if you need to walk back to your office in the heat or need to work for another few hours in the office.
Now to the point whether this is imitation Chipotle. I think the flavors are different enough that I cannot mix up Chipotle and Taco Bell products. The ingredients may sound similar, but the flavor is very different, especially the salsa and the guacamole that you cannot compare really Chipotle and Taco Bell.
More information on Cantina Menu from Taco Bell is available here.

No comments: