Taco Bell Testing New "Cantina Bell" Menu With Actual Fresh Ingredients

Taco Bell is finally joining the fast food trend of trying to offer something worth eating when it’s not 2 a.m. on a Saturday after the beer pong championships. Its new “Cantina Bell” menu will feature fresh ingredients and more upmarket offerings in two test locations starting Jan. 26.

Those living in Louisville, Ky. and Bakersfield, Calif. will get to try out the more Chipotle-esque items, says Reuters, and if it goes over well, the rest of the country’s Taco Bell could get freshified by the end of the year.

Despite enjoying the status of America’s No. 1 fast food Mexican-restaurant chain (and we’re sure many would debate its actual Mexicanness), sales slumped in 2011. But things should perk up soon anyway, as it’ll also be rolling out Doritos Locos Tacos, the ones with the shells made from nacho cheese Doritos we ogled last year.

Cantina Bell’s menu might cost a bit more than the usual fare at Taco Bell, at about $5 for tacos, burritos and bowls, but it seems they’re hoping to lure customers away from Chipotle’s mostly $8 offerings.

Even with the similarities to Chipotle, Taco Bell executives deny they’re emulating the other chain.

“That’s crazy talk. I’m not trying to reposition Taco Bell to be Chipotle,” the chain’s Chief executive, Greg Creed, told Reuters. “To be a more relevant Taco Bell, we can sell products that are every bit as good but cost a whole lot less,” Creed said.

If you live in Louisville or Bakersfield and try out the Cantina Bell menu, let us know how it goes and send pictures to our tipline.

Taco Bell hopes fresh food will whet diner demand [Reuters]