Cantina vs. Chipotle: Are Taco Bell’s high cost menu items worth it?

There will come a time in our lives when we’ll have a lot more disposable income. We’ll then be presented with a choice: continue to eat the cheap shit at Taco Bell, order the costlier items, or graduate to a different restaurant entirely. I’m here today to help you make this choice.

Taco Bell’s Cantina menu has been out for 2 years, and they recently started promoting it again. They put it out to compete with Chipotle, so I did a side by side comparison. They will be judged by price, quality of ingredients, overall taste, fillingness, and aftereffects.

The Contenders:

IMG_0516  IMG_0527

Chipotle’s steak bowl vs. Taco Bell’s steak Cantina bowl

Price:

Chipotle: 7.20 for the steak bowl
3.25 for chips and guac
Total: 11.42

Taco Bell: 5.19 for the “power” steak bowl
1.00 for chips (guac is included)
Total: 7.07

11 bucks vs. 7 bucks? I think we have a clear winner here.

Taco Bell: 1      Chipotle:0

Quality of Ingredients:

When Taco Bell first announced their new menu, I assumed they would use higher quality ingredients to justify the price. I was wrong.

IMG_0528

The steak was the typical TB steak, and by that I mean “really not very good, but pretty okay.” The lettuce was slightly fresher than normal, the sour cream was just as horrifying, and the black beans were pretty good.

As for the guacamole, it was exactly what I expected. Have you ever bought low-quality guacamole at a grocery store? It’s just like that. Not great, but it’s still guacamole, so I dig it.

Now let’s take a look at Chipotle.

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Ohhh yeah, that’s the stuff. The steak was perfectly seasoned, the lettuce was crisp and fresh, and the corn tasted like Pocahontas had picked it earlier that afternoon. The guacamole was perfectly spicy and refreshing, but I’m not sure it’s worth $1.75.

Chipotle’s superior ingredients earned them a point.

Taco Bell: 1       Chipotle: 1

Overall Taste:

Chipotle has an advantage here from the start: you tell them what you want in your bowl. This allows you to choose different salsas, beans, rice, and toppings to meet your cravings. Therefore, if the overall taste doesn’t flow well, it’s probably your fault.

That being said, it’s pretty hard to mess up the combination of meat, beans, salsa, and vegetables in a bowl. Yet somehow… Taco Bell messes it up.

I hate speaking ill of Taco Bell, but the power steak bowl just didn’t combine well. It was runny, there was too much steak, not enough vegetables, and the sour cream was like an insidious virus crawling around infecting any semblance of good flavor.

I know, I know, some people love TB’s sour cream. I have severe issues with it, and usually 86 that crap. However, this time I forgot, and yes, I paid the consequences.

Taco Bell: 1      Chipotle: 2

 

Fillingness:

 When you’re spending a little more money on a meal, it’s nice to know that you can get leftovers out of it. I typically eat as much as possible without feeling completely terrible, then save the rest to eat in a few hours.

This is what I had leftover from Chipotle. As you can see, it’s essentially another meal.

1 Chipotle bowl = 2 meals.

IMG_0520

What about leftovers at Taco Bell?

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There’s not much there. Honestly, I stopped eating it because it was pretty gross. I should have ordered a backup. (probably a Mexican Pizza)

Taco Bell: 1       Chipotle: 3

Aftereffects:

Whenever you’re eating unhealthy food, it’s important to note how you feel afterward. This observation is why many people stop eating fast food.

I ate Chipotle on a Thursday, and it was all I had for the day. That night I felt absolutely terrible. Not even the groggy “I ate too much McDonald’s” terrible, it was much worse. I had heartburn for the third time in my life, and my stomach sounded like a thunderstorm. I tried to go running but couldn’t even make it a mile.

The next day I had TB’s power bowl for lunch. I felt fine. Pretty good, even. Maybe the shitty taste was worth the positive aftereffects.

Surprisingly, my body handled Taco Bell much better than Chipotle. This could be due to the fact that I’m so used to eating TB, but I’m going to give them a point anyway.

Final Score:

Taco Bell: 2          Chipotle: 3

 Conclusion: Stay far, far away from Taco Bell’s power bowls, only eat Chipotle if you have an iron stomach and a lot of money, and continue to order as much of the low-grade Taco Bell you can shove down your throat. I’ll have a few more reviews coming out this week, so stay tuned!

PS – Thanks MG for the Chipotle gift card! I hope this post answered some of your questions.

 

 

 

 

 

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