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Tex-Mex Taste Test: Chipotle vs. Taco Bell

Yum! Brands' (NYSE: YUM  ) Taco Bell has rolled out a gourmet "Cantina Bell" menu designed to steal away some of Chipotle's (NYSE: CMG  ) profits. Curious -- as well as hungry -- analysts Rex Moore, Joe Magyer, and John Reeves conduct a highly scientific taste test to see whether Taco Bell has a chance at toppling the burrito king.

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Rex Moore owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings. John Reeves owns shares of Chipotle. Joe Magyer owns no companies mentioned in this taste test. The Motley Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and McDonald's. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald's, and Yum! Brands. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (15) | Recommend This Article (31)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 12:06 PM, TMFJLo wrote:

    There's no such thing as a free lunch :)

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 1:15 PM, mapbc wrote:

    Key difference - Chipotle also sells beer. Huge difference in cost and profit margin.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 2:14 PM, gingernow wrote:

    I heard no mention of Chipotle use of 'real' ingredients in the foolish valuation. That's another reason prices are higher than T.B. I have the luxury of paying for hormone free meats and fresh veggies which attracted me to Chipotle in the first place. Anybody remember when Taco Bell had the grade D kangaroo meat scare? g.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 2:20 PM, EquityBull wrote:

    Glad to see the comparison. I think the old saying you get what you pay for rings true.

    Chipotle higher quality and more organic as well as human treatment to animals. Better taste and socially conscious.

    Taco Belle. Obviously a better price but in contrast lower quality, inferior taste and if you want to eat socially conscious (organic and/or humane treatment) than I think Taco Belle falls well short of Chipotle

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 9:27 PM, woodNfish wrote:

    Two of my work mates went to Chipotle today. They said the food is very bland. One of them did a search on the internet after lunch about their bland food and found a commenter who said people who think Chipotles food is bland, "don't understand it." What a load of nonsense. Food is either good or it isn't. Chipoltle's apparently isn't. End of story.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 9:35 PM, SwiperFox wrote:

    Sorry, wouldn't eat at either. Neither would anyone else if they had ever had a Carne Asada burrito from Roberto's in San Diego, or an Avacodo Burrito from Campo's in LA.

    But I do get the point. For fake mexican food, Chipotle is better than Taco Bell.

  • Report this Comment On August 07, 2012, at 9:41 PM, p366 wrote:

    I haven't seen the Cantina Menu because our TB closed last year. For decades now, TB's menu has been built on just a few ingredients--seasoned ground beef, refried beans (which I can personally attest to the fact are made in the stores daily starting about 7 AM), shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and shredded cheese plus either corn tortillas for the hard tacos and flour tortillas for everything else. TB has been a master of combining these basic ingredients to produce differently priced items, which look different, but really taste the same. Back in the mid-80's, TB introduced a new menu item--sour cream, which required each store to have sour cream dispensers installed. The next year, it was Mexican Pizza--still my favorite item on their traditional menu because it is the only thing that may be hot when you get it. This issue of cold food troubled TB and led them to introduce the pizza item.

    What's different about CMG? Well, they offer more variety in meats and they have two kinds of rice plus various other condiments. But, frankly, like TB they comstruct their various offerings, bowls, burritos out of the same basic ingredients. The other thing they have in common is luke warm to cold food. Without some hot sauce, CMG's food is pretty bland.

    Having eaten in some actual Mexican restaurants in CA, AZ and TX, I can tell you that the classic thing the server says as he/she delivers your plate is: CAREFUL! HOT PLATE! And the food is hot temp wise and tasty on its own. Neither TB nor CMG serves anything that comes close.

  • Report this Comment On August 08, 2012, at 11:13 AM, 48ozhalfgallons wrote:

    As a New Mexico resident, Chipotle is worthy for Texans and Californians of which neither am I.

  • Report this Comment On August 08, 2012, at 3:50 PM, SaraW946 wrote:

    I think anyone who has watched the documentary Food Inc. would steer away from Taco Bell. Does the taste test indicate the winner? Well, does your mom make better burgers than McDonalds? I don't think taste has anything to do with success. The majority of Americans unfortunately want to eat enormous portions at very low prices, which accounts of course for the obesity epidemic. :( Processed food is fine because it's cheap. Whether it's also dangerous for you is immaterial.

  • Report this Comment On August 08, 2012, at 3:55 PM, TMFSpiffyPop wrote:

    Great job, guys. I would love to see more product comparison videos right along these lines. We're investing in stocks but it's often the products and the competitive landscapes that determine how the stocks do.

    I might have liked to see a blind taste test -- unwrap the items and set them up for other employees or consumers to rate.

    Great job overall. --David

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2012, at 9:17 AM, Prospero13 wrote:

    I haven't been to a Taco Bell in years and don't know first hand what their Cantina Bell menu is like, but I'd like to see a comparison between Chipotle and Qdoba. I think Qdoba is more of a threat to Chipotle than Taco Bell. I've eaten at Qdoba only once, but it was pretty good, though of course Chipotle uses higher quality ingredients.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2012, at 1:33 PM, bobbyk1 wrote:

    I bought CMG on the numbers and sold on the taste.Probly a personal thing but Ilike the taco truck better.

  • Report this Comment On August 11, 2012, at 2:12 PM, ravens9111 wrote:

    If you have a Qdoba close by, I recommend you try it. I go there over Chipotle any day of the week. Haven't had Taco Bell in YEARS.

  • Report this Comment On August 15, 2012, at 7:30 AM, p366 wrote:


    For those who think CMG is healthier, check out this link provided by TMFBreakerRob questioning their "Food with Integrity" claims:


  • Report this Comment On October 06, 2012, at 12:58 PM, wnh5001 wrote:

    Should have done a blind taste test. Preconceived notions of taco bell have caused a bias.

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