After months of testing and the launch of a special website, Taco Bell announced today that it will officially launch its new Cantina Bell menu nationwide on July 5.

The menu was created in partnership with chef Lorena Garcia and features items listed under $5. Garcia – who was featured on NBC's "America's Next Great Restaurant" and will appear on the new season of Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" July 25 – worked with Taco Bell beginning in October 2010 to create the menu.

Cantina Bell will feature eight new ingredients for Taco Bell, such as whole black beans, cilantro rice, 100 percent all-white-meat chicken in a citrus and herb marinade, guacamole made with 100 percent Hass avocado, fire-roasted corn salsa, creamy cilantro dressing, romaine lettuce and pico de gallo. The Cantina Bell menu items will also include vegetarian options.

  • Cantina Bowl: Chicken ($4.79, 560 calories, 22g total fat. 26g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 540 calories, 21g total fat, 14g protein), Steak ($4.99, 550 calories, 23g total fat, 22g protein); and
  • Cantina Burrito: Chicken ($4.79, 760 calories, 27g total fat, 32g protein), Veggie ($4.79, 740 calories, 26g total fat, 20g protein), Steak ($4.99, 750 calories, 28g total fat, 28g protein).

Taco Bell will also offer side combinations as part of the new menu, including chips and Garcia's pico de gallo or fire-roasted corn salsa; chips and guacamole; or black beans and cilantro rice, each for $1.49.

"Lorena is truly an inspiration, and her new menu and passion for food has inspired a new menu with the freshest flavors that exceed expectations," said Brian Niccol, chief marketing and innovation officer, Taco Bell Corp. "Additionally, in true Taco Bell fashion, she worked with us to create a high-quality, value-driven lineup of new offerings comprised of new ingredients that offers a broader array of tastes and flavors our consumers are seeking, all wrapped up in terrific Taco Bell value and convenience."

When Garcia began working on the menu with Taco Bell's R&D team, there were 26 recipes. They were eventually whittled down to eight.

"(Garcia) knew her name would be on it, literally – each item will be handed to customers with her signature – and Lorena wanted every layer of taste to be just right, to underscore, as she describes it, her sazón. The test results showed that the hard work paid off and we look forward to taking it national," Niccol added.

To help promote the new Cantina Bell menu and encourage consumer trial, Taco Bell is guaranteeing its quality. If a customer tries and doesn't like the Cantina Bowl or Cantina Burrito, Taco Bell will replace it.

"We stand behind the quality of all of our products," said Niccol. "With Cantina Bell, we want to underscore this commitment. Our fans love layers of flavors – and our new menu delivers flavors that are brighter, refreshing and, in the end, incredibly satisfying."

To support its launch of the Cantina Bell menu, Taco Bell will launch an integrated TV and online campaign, 15- and 30-second spots – all created by Draftfcb, Orange County – emphasizing Garcia's passion for the product. In preparation, Garcia is supporting Taco Bell's internal roll-out of the Cantina Bell menu in order to share her sazón with all 150,000 employees around the country.

"Taco Bell approached me with an interesting challenge," Garcia said. "They have a passionate fan base that loves the great taste of the classic menu items – and they don't want to change that. They were looking to keep these menu items and expand their food to offer new flavors with great taste. As a chef, I saw this as an opportunity to help create diversity to the Taco Bell experience, and to introduce and celebrate the tastes and flavors from around the world to millions of customers."

Check out the new menu here.

Read more about food and beverage innovations.

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