Chipotle Introduces Twist on Al Pastor


Chipotle Store | Image by Sundry Photography/Shutterstock

Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched a new menu item: Chicken al Pastor, which became available worldwide for a limited time starting Tuesday.

The latest protein offering, available from March 14-26, promises to please those looking for “a sophisticated flavor profile and elevated taste” and is a medley of sweet, savory, spicy, and sour notes.

Chris Brandt, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, explained in the latest news release that the dish is a rendition of “al pastor,” one of the fastest-growing Mexican dishes made with pork.

Brandt said Chipotle’s customers are searching for distinctive menu options that they cannot easily prepare at home. By substituting freshly grilled chicken, he explained, the company has “put [its] own spicy spin on al pastor.”

The preparation of Chicken al Pastor begins with marinating chicken with Morita peppers, adobo, ground achiote, pineapple, and lime juice. Then it is grilled and stuffed into burritos, bowls, tacos, salads, or quesadillas per the customers’ desire.

“It’s where fire meets flavor,” Brandt added.

This rollout marks the first time that Chipotle has introduced a new menu item across all restaurants in one sweep. With over 3,200 locations in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, that’s a whole lot of chicken that’ll be marinating.

Yet this isn’t the first time that some Chipotle customers are getting a taste of Chicken al Pastor.

Last year the restaurant put the Chicken al Pastor through its stage-gate testing process. It was initially served at 94 restaurants in Denver and Indianapolis.

During a recent earnings call, per Restaurant Business Online (RBO), Chipotle’s CEO, Brian Niccol, explained that the dish is not only operationally simple to prepare but also offers a thrilling new flavor that can boost sales and drive transactions.

Chicken al Pastor is anticipated to perform better than the last new item the restaurant launched: the Garlic Guajillo Steak, released for a limited time last September. It ultimately fell short of expectations in driving transactions in the fourth quarter, per Niccol.

While the price of Chicken al Pastor varies based on location, the average national price of an entrée that includes this protein option is approximately $9.45, according to RBO.

As part of the rollout, Chipotle is offering a $0 delivery fee on all Chicken al Pastor orders placed through its app and website beginning on March 16.

To qualify, the order must include at least one entrée with Chicken al Pastor. The minimum order is $10 with a maximum order of $200, excluding tax and fees.

Don’t forget: Chicken al Pastor is only available until March 26.

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