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First Visit to Chipotle's

danhole Mar 31, 2009 11:39 AM

I have always been curious about this place, so when we found ourselves a couple doors down from there I drug my husband in, and I say drug him in because he hates to try new places. I wasn't expecting the set-up, so it threw me a bit. I decided to get the soft flour tacos, so he could have one and I could have the other two. I got him the fajita taco, plain. I got a carnita taco with sour cream and cheese, and a barbacoa taco with just cheese. I wanted guacamole and he said it was extra, so I chose to have it on the side instead of on the taco. Then we got 2 drinks and a bag of chips. Total cost was $13.10. Seems like a lot to me.

The meat on all 3 tacos was lukewarm. Fajita meat was cubed and tasted like frozen tyson meat. The carnita taco was so watery, but then again the sour cream was very soupy. I'm not sure if it was the sour cream, or the meat, because the pork looked like it was sitting in a pile of juice. The barbacoa, while lukewarm, was really good. I was surprised at the flavor of it. I added a dollop or two of the guacamole to it and it was delicious. I liked the guacamole, but at $1.75 the portion size wasn't really worth it. The chips were pretty thick and a tad stale.

I'll have to go back, by myself (he will NEVER go back), and get a different choice, maybe a burrito or bowl, with that barbacoa meat, because I can't stop thinking of it, but other than that I wasn't very impressed. Just my opinion!

  1. OCAnn Apr 27, 2009 10:23 AM

    I'd put Chipotle's right up there w/Baja Fresh. While I actually prefer BF's burritos, I like Chipotle's burrito bowl much more than BF's Bare Burrito (served in a bowl). A bit pricier than the mega-Mex chains, but well worth it when the occasion calls.

    1. e
      Enric Apr 3, 2009 05:10 PM

      I went a couple times I found the barbacoa burrito really salty. When I read on Yahoo that the chicken burrito was something like 2000 calories that did it for me. Mexican food I find is very easy to do badly one is better off making it at home instead.

      1. DiveFan Apr 1, 2009 08:23 PM

        The main thing that galls me about Chipotle is that they Refuse to use fresh, Soft Corn tortillas. C'mon, calling itself a 'Mexican Grill' without those is deceitful. Hard corn shell tortillas are a dubious American invention - I haven't tried them there since they taste like cardboard elsewhere. Eating a taco made with a chewy, glutenous flour tortilla is just plain dreadful.

        After an email conversation with a Chipotle spokesperson I'm reassured that they care little about authenticity or tasting like traditional Mexican street food. Aside from the source ingredients they follow the unimaginative Americized menu - putting shredded cheese, sour cream and lettuce on everything etc. They do Not offer any kind of minced onion topping, huh? Corn salsa is just a gimmick!!

        They can't even be bothered to offer some good Mexican style table sauces (only green and red Tabasco).

        It is tragic that their chain takes good ingredients and produces mediocre Americanized food. Chipotle reminds me of the joke about babies - they turn mothers milk into......

        Danhole, I wouldn't waste your time complaining.....

        7 Replies
        1. re: DiveFan
          danhole Apr 2, 2009 09:41 AM

          I was surprised that they didn't offer soft corn tortillas, too. The flour tortillas were not anything special either. In other words, they sure didn't taste like homemade. The table sauces were the bottles of Tabasco next to the napkins? That does seem pretty lame. I wonder where they are based out of.

          1. re: danhole
            m
            mpjmph Apr 2, 2009 10:49 AM

            McDonald's used to own a majority stake in the company but they are now independent, run out of Denver. Here's an article about the company's growth...

            http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn...

            1. re: mpjmph
              danhole Apr 2, 2009 12:13 PM

              Interesting. I guess I am spoiled due to all the mom and pop mexican places where the mexican mama makes the tortillas as you sit there and enjoy the food. And carnitas don't taste like pulled pork.

          2. re: DiveFan
            f
            ferret Apr 2, 2009 12:27 PM

            "Authenticity" doesn't coexist well with "for the masses". People want familiarity. Chipotle is fine and as I said above, it's middle-of-the-road. They want to cater to the 80% at the midsection of the bell curve. And they seem to be doing it well. When I want "authentic" Mexican, there are any number of places in Chicago that I can go to; when I want a quick lunch, Chipotle is around the corner from my office.

            1. re: DiveFan
              k
              kellithina Apr 5, 2009 11:19 PM

              I went to a newly opened Chipotle (Westlake Village, CA) two days ago for a carnita taco. It was served on a warm, soft corn tortilla. Although it was pretty tasty, it was a bit salty. One taco was $2.00.

              1. re: DiveFan
                DiveFan Apr 6, 2009 04:14 PM

                kellithina, thanks for the update. However at $2 per taco, my curiousity might not be strong enough.

                As for 'the masses' not coexisting with 'authenticity', I disagree. My experience has been that most people will try something and often like it *IF* the ingredients and flavor 'profile' are explained in advance. My upper midwestern parents are a good example. Successful restaurants will literally distinguish themselves by having Some unique menu items to go with the familiar.

                1. re: DiveFan
                  f
                  ferret Apr 23, 2009 06:36 AM

                  Anyone can be taught to appreciate different things but if you want to sell at a volume you compromise flavor profiles to fit the middle-of-the-road expectation. Chipotle, like any other large chain, does lots of product testing and they will go for what's the most popular for the average taster, not a sophisticated palate. It's no accident that foods taste the way they do at chains. Some products take years to refine for sale.

              2. boogiebaby Apr 1, 2009 01:06 AM

                I think one of the best features at Chipotle are the salsas. I love the corn salsa. Sounds like you had very plain food -- a plain fajita taco, a carnita taco with sour cream and cheese, and a barbacoa taco with cheese. Where's the salsa? The cilantro rice? Seems like you left off 2 key ingredients that add to the flavor (and the size) of the meal.

                3 Replies
                1. re: boogiebaby
                  l
                  LikestoEatout Apr 1, 2009 05:27 AM

                  I don't think the prices you stated are out of line. Most of the similiar restaurants around here, including the mom and pop ones, sell their tacos for $3.95 a piece. Some give you more indegients, some less. you just learn which places give the better deal. Our Chipotle is always crowded with lousy parking so we don't go but I did like it when they started serving the burritos in a bowl. We have never been served anything less than fresh and hot though we usually grab a bottle or 2 of the sauces to kick up the heat.

                  1. re: boogiebaby
                    danhole Apr 1, 2009 08:07 AM

                    I really wasn't sure what came with the tacos and what was extra, so . . . I didn't want to hold up the line. Another thing was that the ingredients didn't look too good. Oh, and I forgot that I did get lettuce, that looked fresh, on my tacos. My DH is a plain eater so it's just meat and tortilla for him. If I go back to try the barbacoa I will get a bowl so I can add more. You can't add too much to those tiny flour tortillas! I think I just found a "bad seed" location. I should have known because usually when we go by there it is empty.

                    1. re: danhole
                      p
                      pie22 Apr 2, 2009 08:24 AM

                      i enjoy the fajita burritos, the veggies have a good soft bite to them (if that makes sense) and the corn salsa and guacamole are usually worth the visit on their own.
                      a little expensive indeed but they take pride in buying local fresh ingredients and therefore i don't mind. my only complaint is that you can't get a smaller version of a burrito, its just too big!

                  2. n
                    NewDude Mar 31, 2009 03:14 PM

                    That sucks, dude. I've only been once but actually found the burrito I ordered very tasty and very fresh. I was just turned off by the high price and relatively small portion, so I haven't been back. If they could lower prices a bit, and offer a bit larger portion size, I could recommend it without reservation.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: NewDude
                      j
                      jules1026 Mar 31, 2009 05:37 PM

                      Portion size too small? One of those burritos has to weigh a pound. One is enough for two meals. I'd actually like Chipotle a lot better if they cut back on the salt (maybe down to half?).

                      1. re: jules1026
                        Emmmily Mar 31, 2009 07:31 PM

                        Seriously, those burritos are about the size of my head (never ordered the tacos). I've only been a few times (huge burritos come with huge calorie counts, and I can never bring myself to save half for later), but I've found them pretty tasty. Not as cheap as some other fast food places, but much better, and I appreciate the whole "natural" meat/local produce thing.

                        1. re: jules1026
                          rockandroller1 Apr 1, 2009 12:15 PM

                          I agree, their burritos are like the size of a baby! And I would be more inclined to go there now and again if they cut back on the salt.

                      2. Melanie Mar 31, 2009 01:33 PM

                        My fiancee got Chipotle recently. I hadn't had it in awhile (10 years or so?) and took a couple bites of his barbacoa burrito with black beans, rice, pico, and that corn salsa. I have to say, it was delicious. Granted, it may be because I live in Washington, DC where the Mexican food options are extremely limited, but I really enjoyed it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Melanie
                          m
                          mjhals Apr 5, 2009 05:49 PM

                          Melanie- I'm in DC now too, and sad to say, Chipotle is pretty much the best Mexican I've found around here. Poor fiance comes here to visit from Germany absolutely craving Mexican (he's from San Diego), and the best I can offer is Chipotle. Kind of makes me sad, but I've come to accept that Chipotle is the best we're going to get for awhile.

                          1. re: mjhals
                            Melanie Apr 6, 2009 11:30 AM

                            I hear you. I'm originally from San Francisco. However, I try to block that out so I can enjoy Chipotle that much more :)

                        2. Bob W Mar 31, 2009 01:02 PM

                          Their best dish is no longer available -- cebollitos, grilled green onions. Got taken off the menu when there was a green onion salmonella scare a couple years ago and I'm pretty sure they never came back.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Bob W
                            ejs1492 Apr 1, 2009 09:03 PM

                            Weren't the cebollitos at Baja Fresh, not Chipotle?

                          2. rockandroller1 Mar 31, 2009 12:29 PM

                            I've only eaten there twice and also don't get all the hype. I find all their meats to be really, really salty and outside of that the food is largely bland to me, it just tastes like salt. I don't get why everyone likes them so much.

                            That being said, as a corporate chain they do have some better buying practices and behavior than a lot of others, some use Niman Ranch pork or locally raised chicken or what have you, and I think their corporate practices are a little better than other similar places. But outside of corporate responsibility, it's just not my thing.

                            1. f
                              ferret Mar 31, 2009 12:11 PM

                              I'm no Chipotle spokesperson (food is okay but very-MOR). However, the one thing I can never complain about is the quality of their ingredients. In the locations I've visited they are very meticulous about serving fresh. I've had experiences where I was there before closing and they replaced what looked like a perfectly good container of rice with a freshly-prepared one even though I was probably their last customer. And $13 for two is hardly excessive. Sure, it's more than a comparable meal at Taco Bell costs, but you can't really treat Taco Bell like actual food - it's a category unto itself.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: ferret
                                danhole Mar 31, 2009 01:57 PM

                                You misread. We shared one order of 3 tacos. This particular location was about 30% full, the trays with the food were not very full and they only thing that looked fresh was the guacamole. I still think $13 for 3 tacos, 2 drinks, chip and guacamole is a bit too much for what we got. There wasn't much meat in any of the tacos, either.

                                1. re: danhole
                                  f
                                  ferret Mar 31, 2009 02:51 PM

                                  Then your experience was very inconsistent with what I've come to expect from Chipotle and if I were you'd I'd report the franchise.

                                  I'm nearly equidistant from 2 Quizno's and my kids really liked their sandwiches back when they were in high school. I would go to the shop closest to my house maybe twice a month and on one occasion I visited the other location. They used about half the ingredients that I was used to and I pointed that out. The manager said "everybody does it different" to which I tried to explain the concept of "chain" restaurants. I left the shop, picked up sandwiches at the other location and wrote a very long complaint to Quizno's.

                                  1. re: ferret
                                    danhole Mar 31, 2009 03:04 PM

                                    Thank you. I will.

                                    1. re: ferret
                                      d
                                      davus Apr 23, 2009 12:11 AM

                                      Chipotle is not a franchise. All corporate.

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