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Chipotle vs Benny's- any others??

What does everyone think of Chipotle? I know they're all over the place, and I like how they seem so consistently clean. I'm a veg, btw, so I like a place that doesn't always use the same tongs/spoons for everything and such. We went to Benny's recently, which is/was under renovation, and I just never get why so many NYC "hot spots" are basically hole-in-the-wall types with strands of dust caked on the ceiling. Plus, the bill was much higher, we of course had to pay a tip too, and to be perfectly candid- the burrito was just blah, and had that "everything mushed into a paste" texture. Yet everyone always says "oooh, go to Benny's". I'd love to know if there are any other good burrito spots that are worth trying! (Oh- Burritoville is okay I guess, but never seems to taste really fresh to us.)

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  1. I know some people have this knee-jerk reaction to knock anything corporate, but I do think Chipotle is a good addition to New York. It's cheap, filling (well, too filling -- one burrito is enough for two!), and uses antibiotic-free meat. I definitely prefer it to Benny's and Burritoville. I really don't like Burritoville. I just don't understand its popularity.

    1. Along the same lines, Qdoba on 34th (betw. 2nd and 3rd) is a Chipotle knock-off created by the left-coast fast food favorite Jack in the Box. And, it's actually pretty good as a Chipotle alternative. Basically the same stuff, but different flavors. Maybe not quite so clean and fresh but I like it more than Benny's/Burritoville.

      1. I like Uncle Ming's it's 19th b/ween 5th and 6th (i think)... i think the ingredients are fresher and more flavorful.

        2 Replies
        1. re: kesues

          It'a actually Uncle Moe's. It's OK, imo, but not better than Chipotle. Benny's is flat out awful, verging on inedible. Burritoville is pretty bad, too, though certain burritos (e.g., the Route 66) are OK if you order them without rice. Kitchen Market is hit or miss -- try the three cheese with black beans, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. My favorite burrito was probably the Carne Asada at Pio Maya, though I haven't been since they reopened. Downtown Bakery also does a decent carne asada burrito.

          1. re: kesues

            I've posted my support for Burritoville before. It's a bit better than Chipolte and has more variety. Agree that Uncle Moe's is ok, too.

          2. Definitely not authentic, but in a similar fast-food vein is burritoville. They have a tex mex healthier-creative take on burritos. The free chips and picante salsa while you wait is perhaps the best thing about it.

            1. Benny's is pretty bad. Burritoville is REALLY bad. Chipotle is surprisingly good. I like their moist, smoky carnitas. I order the burrito bol at Chipotle. I cannot understand the allure of a gummy flour tortilla.

              http://petercherches.blogspot.com

              4 Replies
              1. re: Peter Cherches

                I do like Chipotle, for what it is - best fast food chain spot hands down. And serving beer too! But I recently had an excellent burrito from Calexico, the street vendor setup on Prince and Wooster - they apparantly just placed in the Vendy awards. Nice hearty serving with a citrusy spicy touch to their chicken burrito and a nice, if mild, spice to their pork one. Fresh tasting all around, and pretty quick and cheap. The carna asada is supposedly their signature but I haven't tried yet. No good for a veggie I suspect, tho, it looked like they just had one big grill area...

                1. re: DrSessions

                  do they have any fish/veggie options? i can't find any kind of menu info online.

                  1. re: emma

                    They have 'fajita vegetables' (onions and peppers), beans and rice.

                2. re: Peter Cherches

                  Yes, Chipotle's tortillas are awful. I also second the Calexico suggestion by DrSessions.

                3. Chipotle may not be as healthy as you think. Their average burrito has more fat than the average fast food burger:

                  http://www.chipotlefan.com/index.php?...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mojoeater

                    In my view, the problem with Chipotle is that their burritos are so humongous. A chipotle burrito probably weighs at least twice as much as the average fast food burger. I enjoyed the one I had, but I haven't been back because it is just too much food for me and they have no small options. The burritos are probably pretty healthy if you only eat half of it, but that is pretty hard to do.

                  2. I agree that Chipolte is one of the better burritos I've had in NYC. I can only stand Benny's when I'm desperate for mexican and need delivery--if Chipolte delivered, I'd never eat Benny's. I do struggle a bit with the corporate-ness of Chipotle (I think they're even owned by Mc Donalds which makes it worse) and of course the size of the portions. I"m too greedy to not finish and I always regret it. I've had good burritos at Kitchen but they have no tables to eat in and a limited delivery area. There's also Mary Ann's in Chelsea which I think isn't much better than Benny's. If you're after quick Mexican and you don't mind tacos instead of burritos, for my money this best bet is the taco truck that's sometimes parked at 14th and 8th avenue.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: torrey

                      Don't fret too much, Chipotle is only partly supported by McD's, not owned by. I find the tacos to be a much more portion friendly option at Chipotle!

                      1. re: elizabeththinks

                        Check here for the McDonalds/Chipotle story: http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/news/co...

                        PS - I am eating a Burritoville sloppy joe wrap right now. I prefer the megasoy!

                    2. i finally tried my first CHIPOTLE recently. i got a beef one and i really did not like it. too much rice, awful tortilla wrap, no flavor. i hear the wrapless salad bowls are much better, so i'll give it a few more shots someday.

                      i prefer KITCHEN burritos. they have quick delivery too. BENNYS should be avoided, its beyond bad. i'd hardly call it a hot spot either.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: mrnyc

                        The problem with Kitchen is no grilled chicken or beef, which is pretty annoying. Have you tried Downtown Bakery or Pio Maya?

                        1. re: a_and_w

                          eh? KITCHEN has a very tasty "cut beef" burrito. well,if you put a lot of hot sauce and salsa on it that is. heh. i order it on occasion, but i prefer the cactus or green chili burritos.

                          and although they dont have chicken, they do have a smoked turkey/cheddar burrito.

                          hey KITCHEN aint perfect, it costs too much for one thing, but what they do have is heads above the rest in the area far as i know.

                          i went to PIO MAYA once, but i dk downtown. how/where is that one?

                          1. re: mrnyc

                            Well, Kitchen's done as of today, but in case they reopen the burrito half and happen to read this -- cut beef is not an acceptable substitute for carne asada, nor is smoked turkey a stand in for pollo asada. Downtown Bakery is 1st Ave btw 4th and 5th -- carne asada burrito is quite tasty. Downsides are refried beans only (though I think they have pinto and black) and the occasional niblet in the rice.

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              well dont forget burritos are not an acceptable stand in for anything mexican. they're more of a cali thing.

                              thats a shame about KITCHEN. now i got nothing on this side of town.

                              1. re: mrnyc

                                LOL -- I'm painfully aware. And not just a Cali thing -- even in LA, I can't get a decent Mission burrito. Anyway, I thought I read that the Kitchen owners are looking to re-open the burrito-making portion somewhere else. I'd love to see them go the Calexico route, provided they do so as an actual restaurant or at least within another establishment. It needs to be indoors for cold and/or rainy days...

                      2. Burritoville is taking a beating in this thread. Their portions are excessive, but I find their food satisfying and flavorful, and I dig their horchata. Is it true, by the way, that Chipotle is owned by McDonald's?

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Yaqo Homo

                          Sort of a complicated question. McDonalds used to own a majority of the company, but no longer does. The Wikipedia entry explains it a bit. But it is a corportation, for better or worse. They do make an attempt to be green. I like the food and I don't think corporations are always inherently evil, if run properly. Apple and Ben & Jerry's come to mind. I'd rather have a friend make me a so-so home-cooked meal, or have an excellent meal at a small restaurant or Mesa Grill when the kitchen is on their game. But good food is always good food, and I'd eat a Chipolte burrito anyday over the slop at Mary Ann's.

                          www.SnapshotArtifact.org

                          1. re: Midtown Jimmi

                            Mary Ann's is ok if you want a filling portion on the cheap without much refinement. The chips and salsa were always pretty good, but I must admit that I have not eaten there in a while.

                          2. re: Yaqo Homo

                            Burritoville gets rightly blasted because brown rice has no place in a burrito. (Kitchen frankly should be ashamed for doing so, too, though the type of brown rice they use tastes better.) You want to give people that choice, fine, but don't make it standard. Burritoville also doesn't have simple carne or pollo asada, which is a must for a good taqueria.

                            1. re: a_and_w

                              Good point about the brown rice at B'ville. While I prefer it in my burrito, diners should have a choice. Burritoville provides so many other substitutions you'd think they would have different types of rice. BTW - if you like black beans, Burritoville's are pretty good.

                                1. re: Peter Cherches

                                  Yes, though that veggie chorizo (not to be confused with the soy or sloppy joe) is pretty damn tasty. That and the achiote chicken are the two main fillings at Burritoville worth getting. Everything else strikes me as bland at best...

                              1. re: Yaqo Homo

                                The Mexican food is better in San Diego. Alas, here in Lower Manhattan we don't have a lot of choices. I don't eat red meat so Burritoville has a lot of healthy choices including soy and brown rice. I hear there is a Chipotle downtown so I may have to give it a try. At least Radio Mexico closed . . .Barrio Chino is good, but it's a trip to the LES and their margaritas are overpriced. The place on Lafayette (Radio Mexican?) is okay but they don't deliver.

                                1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                  "Mexican food is better in San Diego." Yes, and northern Italian food is better in Torino, but we New Yorkers often have to choose among the least of several evils.

                              2. I agree that Chipotle is probably the "freshest" tasting, and Benny's has gone downhill. I haven't eaten here in quite some time, but I used to really enjoy a burrito at Harry's on W. 3rd.

                                1. I have eaten at the Chipotle at Bowling Green in the Financial District a couple of times with co-workers who wanted to go. Seemed fine to me. Not really an authentic experience, but doesn't pretend to be. It's fast food. Not a destination that I would seek out, but -- look at the competition. Taco Bell? Eek.

                                  1. Chipotle wins it hands down for our household. So many ways to enjoy your Chipotle. For the people that think that a 20oz+ burrito is too much, you can have them cut the portions of rice, beans, etc that are added. I for example always go with double rice, no beans. You can go half and half on your meat, which is nice when you can't decide. As many said, you can get the burrito bowl or the salad (and still get all of the same ingredients but with more lettuce). I could go on and on about why and how I enjoy my chipotle (like adding fresh cilantro), but I won't bore you. There are also other ways that you can keep it veg beyond the fajita burrito option too.

                                    I won't touch burritoville anymore due to too many post eating "experiences." There's also blockheads, but it's the same people as benny's - just a burritoville/chipotle style to-go type place.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: downtownstefanie

                                      Of all three (chipotle, blockheads and burritoville) I definitely go with blockheads. I hate chipotle for their poor food and long lines. At leat you can get margaritas at blockheads!

                                      1. re: ginsbera

                                        Blockheads is every bit as awful as Benny's. Please avoid it like the plague.

                                        1. re: ginsbera

                                          you can get margaritas at chipotle too.

                                      2. I have become loyal to my local chipolte. No it is not authentic, but so what. It is one of the few places I can get a quick and healthy meal on my way home. I usually get the chicken, with peppers and onions instead of beans, and guacamole (annoyingly a bit more expensive) instead of sourceam or cheese. Yes it is huge and I am bad at not finishing the whole thing. But it is tasty and because of what I order I don't feel it is too unhealthy. (I didn't read the above post about fat/calorie contact compared to a burger, but I assume that depends on what you order).

                                        1. Personally, I like the burritos at Paquito's on 1st Ave. & 9th st. They also have an outpost on 2nd or 3rd in the 20s, and in Hell's Kitchen off 9th Ave, under a different name. Though for what it is, Chipotle's is not horrible.

                                          1. Chipotle is pretty good but the way they assemble their burritos makes for uneven ingredient distribution. They put a row of meat, row of rice, etc. and what happens is when you bite into it, you get a mouthful of only rice and then a mouthful of only meat, etc. It would be better if they could mix the ingredients before making the burrito. Otherwise, its pretty good.

                                            1. While I do like Chipotle

                                              I've said it here before
                                              and I still think
                                              Baby Bo's on 2nd ave btween 34th and 35th is the best