- Chipotle is extending carne asada’s time on the menu through the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2020.
- CEO Brian Niccol said the company is considering adding the new steak as a permanent menu option.
- We tried Chipotle’s carne asada, and found it to be a fresh and impressive addition to the chain’s menu.
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Chipotle’s carne asada may be on its way to becoming a permanent menu item.
On Tuesday, the fast-casual chain announced that it’s extending carne asada’s time on the menu through the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2020. Chipotle locations began to run out of the menu item in late October, CNN reported, with Chipotle saying in a statement that the chain has sourced additional ingredients for the upcoming months.
Originally, Chipotle introduced the new steak option as a limited-time offer in September. According to the company, carne asada exceeded expectations and brought new customers to the chain.
Carne asada’s extended stay on Chipotle’s menu hints at how the chain’s approach to new menu items differs from fast-food chains, which tend to use frequent limited-time offerings, or LTOs, to boost foot traffic.
“Carne asada is, in my mind, not an LTO,” Chipotle CEO Brian Niccol told Business Insider last week. “LTO is kind of this ongoing promotional tool to kind of get a temporary lift.”
Instead, Niccol said that options like the carne asada – which he described as a “seasonal offering” – and the brand’s lifestyle bowls help bring in new customers, who then make Chipotle part of their routine.
“What I’m trying to get people to understand is we’re not trying to do every four to six weeks, some LTO,” Niccol said. “We have a business that is just fundamentally building layers of business on top of layers of business. And it’s because we’re attracting new users. We’re bringing back lapsed users.”
Niccol said in a press release on Tuesday that Chipotle is considering adding carne asada to the chain’s menu as a permanent item in the future.
Business Insider tried the carne asada at a media event when it first launched in September. Here is our take on Chipotle’s new steak item.
Chipotle’s carne asada impressed us with its simple, fresh flavour
The steak was tender and tasted fresh. The lime and cilantro seasoning was subtle and brought out the best flavours in the meat. There was a hint of pink in the centre, 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 flavour of the carne asada also went well with the standard burrito bowl ingredients. It brought just enough flavour of its own while still letting other flavours 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 flavour profile, and its quality puts it up there with the rest of Chipotle’s proteins. If it ends up on the menu permanently, it could be a major win – and even a worthy replacement of Chipotle’s current steak option.
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