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Taco Bell's Cantina Bell Burrito Hits, and Misses

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Last summer I tried out a Cantina Bell Salad at Taco Bell, and enjoyed it quite a bit. I have been meaning to try the burrito from the same menu since then, but never got around to it. After a weekend of hard-partying with friends, I was looking for a hangover-busting fast food treat that wasn't a calorie bomb, and so I zipped on over to Taco Bell to grab the 458-calorie Cantina Steak Burrito.

Taco Bell describes their Cantina Steak Burrito as "tender-braised thick cut steak marinated in Chef Lorena Garcia's authentic Latin recipe, premium Latin rice, flavorful black beans, guacamole made from real Hass avocados, pico de gallo prepared fresh daily, roasted corn & pepper salsa, and a creamy cilantro dressing ... in a warm flour tortilla."

That's a lot of adjectives and ingredients to deliver in a simple flour tortilla.

My first observation: This is one giant burrito. It's heavy, and big, and stuffed full with the promised ingredients. There are many pluses in this particular burrito, although as a whole it could use some improvement. The best parts here are the steak, which was tender and flavorful, a deliciously sweet corn salsa, and a terrific sauce that results from the blend of guacamole and creamy cilantro dressing.

The rice is, unfortunately, very flabby -- starchy and soggy in a way that does not add to the flavor and certainly doesn't do much to enhance texture. Adding black beans keeps the calorie count down while still filling you up -- that's a plus -- but I would have liked more beans and less rice; that would improve the texture considerably.

I didn't see many peppers, and a good dose of your favorite hot sauce, salsa, or pico de gallo will up the flavor factor (there isn't much pico de gallo in there, either). The burrito reheats like a dream -- I stashed half for lunch the next day -- which is the upside of not including many fresh ingredients, I guess.

Compared to the salad, the burrito is just a little anemic: less flavor and kind of soggy, other than the steak. Given the choice between the Cantina Bowl or the Burrito, I'd have to say the salad wins -- and that's not a sentence I find myself writing very often.


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