Chipotle's newest menu item reveals how the chain went from flailing to thriving. Here's how it tastes.
- Chipotle is adding a second steak option - carne asada - to the menu for a limited time.
- The fast-casual chain has recently been investing in menu innovation, after historically avoiding new menu items and limited-time offerings.
- We taste-tested the carne asada and found it to be a solid addition to Chipotle's menu.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Chipotle is rolling out a new kind of steak for a limited period of time.
On Tuesday, the fast-casual chain announced it is adding a new protein option to the lineup, in the form of carne asada. The steak is grilled in stores and seasoned with lime, cilantro, and spices.Chipotle Rewards members will be able to order carne asada on the app and online Tuesday. The new steak will become available to all customers nationally on Thursday.
Carne asada joins Chipotle's original steak offering on the menu, and unlike the original option, it is Whole 30 compliant. It will only be available for a limited time.
Chipotle, unlike most fast-food and fast-casual chains, rarely adds items to the menu for a limited time. However, that has started to change since CEO Brian Niccol took over in March 2018. Last year, for example, Chipotle brought chorizo back to the menu for a limited time.
According to Chipotle's vice president of brand marketing, Stephanie Perdue, customers have been looking for more options at Chipotle. And, Chipotle has been developing more options, with a new "stage-gate" testing process that allows the chain to test items in various markets and receive feedback before rolling out nationally.
"They told us I have my favorite Chipotle go-to bowl and burrito," Perdue said at a media event on Monday. "But really what a new protein does when you add it to that line, it just changes that entire flavor experience."
Business Insider had a chance to taste-test the carne asada at a media event on Monday.
The steak was tender and tasted fresh. The lime and cilantro seasoning was subtle and brought out the best flavors in the meat. There was a hint of pink in the center, although for the most part it was well-done.
Most importantly, it wasn't too salty - a crime of many carne asadas. The subdued yet meaty flavor of the carne asada also went well with the standard burrito bowl ingredients. It brought just enough flavor of its own while still letting other flavors shine through.
A hint of char reminded us that the steak was indeed made fresh in-store. It tasted like it'd been carved off the side of a cow and slapped on a grill.
There were definitely some chewy and gristly bits here and there, which cooled our enthusiasm for the steak just a bit. The last thing you want in your burrito or bowl is an unchewable bit of tendon.
However, we found the carne asada to overall be a solid addition to the menu. We were impressed by its simple, fresh flavor profile, and its quality puts it up there with the rest of Chipotle's proteins.