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My first time at Chipotle.... or, what the hell was that bland beige lump I just ate?


I ordered the barbacoa burrito with medium spicy salsa, pinto beans, rice, cheese, lettuce.

BLAND. Awful, gummy, bland bland bland.

And get this... NO CHIPOTLE.

Are you kidding me? Chipotle en adobo MIGHT have made some strides to help this thing out, and they don't even serve it! Come on, man.

I'm totally baffled by the lines-out-the-door popularity of this place. Or did I just order the wrong thing? (But the menu, after all, is not complicated...)

Mr Taster

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  1. We just have better taste and appreciate good Mexican food. I order pretty much the same thing sans rice and lettuce. I don't go there on my own but, when I was working, someone in the office would go get for the 'in crowd'.

    1. I really want to like this place. Its clean inside, prices arent outrageous, the everything looks fresh and tasty.....but the food just isnt good. The meat is flavorless and the rice is the worst I have ever had, beyond awful. I dont know why they thought adding cilantro and lime to white rice is a good thing. (then again, I am one of those people who detest the flavor of cilantro)

      Too Bad

      10 Replies
      1. re: joe777cool

        Call me crazy, but why would "one of those people who detest the flavor of cilantro" eat cilantro rice, especially at a place that advertises that its rice has cilantro and lime in it? I like it. Cilantro will be present in most salsas too - why would you eat anything there if you hate cilantro?

        I think Chipotle is bland but worlds better than the garbage over at Qdoba. Although do both do similar rice? Either way, I like Chipotle's burritos as they are much closer to mission-style burritos than the abominations called burritos at the dozens of taquerias around here in Alabama.

        Their quacamole is also pretty good and not pre-packaged goop.

        1. re: Dax

          Trying it for the first time I was not aware of this fact and I do not eat salsa. a small amount of it wont bother me that much, regardless it jsut wasnt good.

          1. re: joe777cool

            And why would you go to a Mexican restaurant? Salsa is a key component to the food. Did you know that? do you go to a Texas BBQ joint and not expect the sauce?

            1. re: genoO

              Where are you eating Mexican food that salsa is a key ingredient? Certainly not in any of the Jalisco-style restaurants that serve our local Mexican population. I cannot eat cilantro and I choose not to eat sour cream, yet I can order nearly anything on those menus and as long as I remember to ask for "menos cilantro, menos crema." Many dishes do not have tomato, either, if that's a problem.

              Salsa is a condiment, not an ingredient. You can eat an excellent authentic Mexican meal without eating salsa.

              1. re: rockycat

                Yes...at the very high end nuevo Mexican restaurant, Taco Maria in Costa Mesa, CA, certainly "sauces" accompany many dishes, but typical "salsas" are nowhere to be seen.

        2. re: joe777cool

          You can request rice sans cilantro. I do it every time. It's not an inconvenience and it doesn't hold up the line since they are continually making new batches.

          1. re: foodworthy

            The first and only time I went I requested and received the rice without cilantro. If anything, it was even worse. Talk about bland and tasteless. I could have been eating the paper wrapper and probably enjoyed it more. No second time for me and, oddly enough, no second time for the Chow Kitten who usually likes most fast food burritos.

            1. re: rockycat

              Why are there not more people talking about how bland the food is? If you google "Chipotle bland", it's this thread that comes up, and little else.

              Seriously. Baja Fresh hardly reaches the heights of faux-Mex, but at least their burritos have some actual flavor.

              Emperors new clothes, indeed.

              Mr Taster

              1. re: Mr Taster

                Perhaps because not everyone shares your opinion. I have no love for Chipotle, but it's not the worst option out there, and I don't find it to be bland. I can control what goes into it, and if I want more spice, that's certainly an option.

                1. re: ferret

                  You and I agree that it's not the worst option out there. It's inoffensive, at best- not actively disgusting in the way the Subway stink is actively disgusting.

                  The part that confuses me is that its overwhelming popularity would indicate that it's one of the *best* things out there.

                  That's the part that makes no sense.

                  Mr Taster

        3. I hear ya Mr Taster. When my friend was trying a gluten-free diet this was one of the few fast places we could eat. The workers even switch their rubber gloves when you order gluten free. Sometimes we were just tired and hungry so this place met our needs. But Baja Fresh is just down the road and now that my friend is back to having some gluten in his diet our Baja Fresh location is pretty good for what we spend.

          2 Replies
          1. re: givemecarbs

            try asking for their old gloves, it's the BEST PART OF THE MEAL- something you can at least sink your teeth into. at one time ( i think) they were a bit better, the few times in the last year or so, it seemed that the entire filling was rice and very little anything else. please pass the glove!

            1. re: givemecarbs

              That's a crazy story. Gluten free Chipotle! I need to ask what state this story originated.

            2. I think the main reason people like it is because their food has so much SALT. It took me some tweaking, but the only thing I really like there are the bowls - this way, you don't have the gummy flour tort. And I only get the pork, I think it has a good flavor. Pork, rice, pinto beans, a mix of both the mild and hot salsas, lettuce and cheese. I think it's got pretty good flavor when you get the pork and beans together with the 2 salsas. But yeah, lots of salt.

              1. Chipotle to mexican food is like what these chain ricebowl joints are to fine Asian restaruants.

                1. According to the website their chicken and beef are marinated in the chile.

                  In general, I try to avoid ordering burritos at Mexican places, since odds are they'll skimp on the protein and go heavy with the bean/rice. But, more on the criticism - It's winter. Unless you're lucky enough to be in California or go to a very high-end place, you're probably going to get hit with flavorless ingredients.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ediblover

                    I always specify 'meat and hot sauce only'; no rice, beans, lettuce, guac. I'm willing to pay extra for all meat burritos.

                    1. The place is called Chipotle, but none is served.

                      Now how lame is that?

                      1. I'm with you, Mr. T. I've eaten there a couple of times and for me, the only flavor that comes through is SALT. I like salt. I normally add salt to foods; I'm not salt-phobic at all. But Chipotle is beyond the pale, salt-wise.

                        1. If I want chain Mexican that's tasty, I go to Q-doba......it is just so, so much better than what is happening at Chipotle.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maryanne06

                            Yes, Qdoba for chain Mexican...what I like about Qdoba is that I can get a quick snack (1 soft taco with black beans, no rice, no meat, no corn, guac, cheese, sour cream and salsa, doused with fresh lime juice) for $2. At Chipotle, I need to spend more money and get more food, which isn't always what I want.

                          2. Wife 1.o dragged me to Chipotle after I vehemently protested for the last four years. We live in an area that has Chipotles all over the place, but real taquerias as well. The wife told me that she had turned into a Chipotle fan about a year ago after returning to one for a quick meal one day. "It's much different than you remember, trust me." I got the taco plate - one barbacoa, one steak, and one carnitas. None of it was edible. Salty, flavorless gobs of brown. Maybe I'll try it again in another four years. Chipotle is just gross. I had qdoba a few years ago. It was even worse, and more expensive.
                            Carne asada is NOT stew meat. Just gross. Grossly overpriced,too. I'm just glad the mall food types are too scared to go into the good taquerias, cuz if word got out how much better and cheaper they are, my world would come crashing down.

                            1. You may have just ordered the wrong thing or we have different tastes. I find chipotle to be one of the few chains I actually enjoy as the food is almost always fresh. Also, I always get the corn salsa which is chock full of jalapeno (not bland by my standards). I like the burrito bowls (I don't see the need for calorie bomb gigantic wraps). I usually get the chicken bowl with rice, black beans (no pork), corn salsa and guacamole.

                              15 Replies
                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                Are the bowls a new item? I don't recall seeing them on the menu.

                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                  Buritto Bowls have been on Chipotle's menu since the Atkins days. If you lose the cheese, skin, sourcream, and rice and double up on the beans and salsa and go easy on the good fats like guacamole, they're reasonably healthy.


                                    1. re: chileheadmike

                                      I mean the burrito skin. It's actually quite fatty compared to a corn tortilla.

                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                          Flour tortillas need some fat in them to bind them. They also use bleached flour with little if any fiber. The corn tortillas also use some fat, but corn flour is less heavily processed and contains more nutrients and fiber. By skipping the corn/flour tortilla completely and going with a bowl, you reduce your trans fat/carb intake substantially. Doubling the beans increases your fiber intake.

                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                            There are no trans fats in the flour tortilla.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              "Unfortunately, we do still have a trace amount of transfats in our flour tortillas (less than 0.5 grams). The trace transfats in our tortillas comes from hydrogenated soybean oil. Tortillas are one of those things that take solid fats to work correctly. You’ve got the option of tortillas made with lard (saturated fats), tortillas made with palm oil (environmentally disastrous), or hydrogenated vegetable shortening (transfats). According to modern science, it’s kind of a lose-lose situation. Also, in keeping our tortillas vegetarian- and vegan-friendly options, lard or butter is out of the question so we went with soybean oil."



                                                1. re: ferret

                                                  The FDA allows any food with less than half a gram of trans-fat per serving to be called 'trans-fat free.' I know this because a co-worker's wife has a respiratory condition exacerbated by any fats, so she's on a fat-free diet. Just because a label says "fat free" doesn't mean there's no fat in it. Just that there's less than half a gram of fat per serving. Not much, but if you eat them regularly, they tend to add up.

                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                    Unfortunately ferret, you have fallen victim to modern nutrition marketing.

                                                    According to FDA guidelines, if a food items contains less than 0.5 g of trans fat per "serving" (which is generally much smaller portion size than what the average American eats), the product can legally be labeled "trans fat free".


                                                    Mr Taster

                                              1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                I had just never heard a flour tortilla referred to as a burrito skin, and < 0.5 grams is not "quite fatty" in my book FWIW.

                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                  i don't think fat in the tortilla is the concern for most people, it's more that it adds a lot of extra calories to an already calorie dense meal and they aren't tasty calories, but rather gummy refined flour.

                                    2. re: NicoleFriedman

                                      Yep, I also love this place. Sure, it's fast food, but all the ingredients are fresh. I avoid the tortillas just because I only like homemade tortillas, but the bowls are delicious. I usually get the vegetarian bowl with medium salsa and extra guac and beans (no sour cream or cheese), then order a bag of those addictive chips to dip into it. It's high calorie, but I enjoy every single one.

                                      I cannot think of another chain (at least not one I have access to) with food this good or as nutritious. Those of you who are blessed to live in CA or TX have access to real Mexican food, so you can't really compare Chipotle to that.

                                      1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                        I like it too. I always get a chicken or pork bowl/taco salad with no rice, just meat, black beans, cheese, their pretty nice tomatillo salsa (which I discovered during the "tomatoes are poison" scare a few years ago), and mountains of lettuce. I think it's really good for a fast/casual taco salad.

                                      2. Its been several years since my one visit to a Chipotle. I asked if I could have some chipotle in my burrito and was told they didn't have any, it was just in the marinade. As I remember my burrito was mostly lime and cilantro flavored rice. I've had no reason to go back.

                                        1. I think it depends on where you live. Around DC, the Chipotles are pretty well run, but the food is bland. Not nearly as bland as Moe's Southwest Grill. The Baja Freshes are equally bland, but aren't well managed (they often run out of items and the staff isn't the best trained). Never tried Q-doba, but we're fortunate to have some decent tacquerias which makes going to chains all the more irrelevant. And when the kitchens close late at night, I'm more apt to hit Taco Bell because it is what it is and their prices aren't approaching ridiculous.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: monkeyrotica

                                            While I guess it's fun to bash the chains I can't agree that Chipotle is awful. I live in Chicago where excellent Mexican food is available in nearly every neighborhood, so I'm puzzled by Chipotle's presence (Baja Fresh has since disappeared from here - but they had other issues).

                                            Chipotle's fine in a pinch and their concept has been ripped off by Middle Eastern and Indian restaurants here in Chicago.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              *L* almost as strange( imho )as pizza hut or dominoes in ny where i am. the question becomes how can they thrive?

                                              1. re: rich51

                                                This was brought up in another thread. The consensus was that kids who grew up eating Pizza Hut and Dominoes, and who then go to college away from home, they then associate Pizza Hut and Dominoes (and Starbucks or any other chain for that matter) with "comfort food." They then grow up to be adult customers of those chains, in spite of the fact that a better, non-chain alternative might be just up the street. I'm inclined to agree in that I have many fond memories of chain restaurants in my youth: the little cup-of-fat pepperonis on Shakeys Pizza, Pappy Parker's Fried Chicken at Hot Shoppes, footlong chili dogs at Dairy Queen. I'm sure if my adult self could take Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine to 1972, he'd be revolted by these same foodstuffs. "Yessir, both time and money behave like loose quicksilver in a nest of cracks: once they're gone, you wonder where they went. And what the devil you did with them!"

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  O mercy...I remember all those places!! The truth be told, fast food,pre-prepped or not isn't meant to replace home cooked meals...

                                          2. It's even more baffling for me. I live in an area with a high density of decent to good taco shops. Yet Chipotle opened an establishment near me over 5 years ago and continues to thrive. When they first opened, they sent out a mailer with 3 coupons for free burritos (not BOGO). I tried 3 different varieties, and they were all bleh.

                                            1. I love Chipotle for what it is. I don't consider it Mexican food, but just a really good bowl of rice and beans. My usual order is the bowl with rice, pinto beans, no meat, extra corn salsa (I adore the corn salsa and could eat a bucket of it.) sour cream and guac.

                                              I would never go there if I am craving Mexican food. But it has it's place in my world and I really enjoy it.

                                              1. I'm really surprised at all the hate for Chipotle. Is this just a case of jumping on the "all corporate chains suck" bandwagon? Maybe it's just a matter of ordering the right thing. I don't go there for typical taqueria items like tacos and burritos... I only get burrito bowls, usually with chicken, and I think they're pretty good. I wish other mexican places had them. I live in an area with all kinds of options for mexican food. Admittedly, I mostly will eat there on road trips and when I'm out of the inner city but I just don't understand all the hate for a place that's pretty benign.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                  I think it's a combination of more people having access to more flavorful/authentic Mexican options, as well as a misplaced loathing of Chipotle being owned by McDonalds (they are no longer affiliated).

                                                  1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                    >> Is this just a case of jumping on the "all corporate chains suck" bandwagon?

                                                    Absolutely not!!

                                                    Please, don't set up the straw man argument that I'm making claims against things that I have not expressly spoken of. ferret asserted this logical fallacy as well, and I want to clarify that this is a misrepresentation of the intent and content of my original post.

                                                    This is my reaction to one very specific, extremely bad experience I had with Chipotle's bland, gummy food, and my confusion as to why people line up out the door for this stuff. It begins and ends there.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                    1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                      "Is this just a case of jumping on the "all corporate chains suck" bandwagon?"

                                                      There are many posters on this website who will never say a good thing about any chain restaurant, but from what I have read this isnt the case. People are giving very specific reasons why they dont like Chipotle, meaning they have eaten there in the past and at least gave it an open minded shot. I eat my fair share of chain food, and I live Mexican food. Chipotle is 3 miles from my work and I really really want to like it - but the food just isnt very good. In fact, the first time I went there I asked them what to try because it was my first time and they gave me my lunch for free! Cool concept, great customer service, clean restaurant, ok prices......bad food. Too bad

                                                      1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                        I most certainly don't hate chains. I eat at them far too often. It's just a matter of which chain. For American-Mexican I will choose Moe's or Taco Bell, usually depending upon convenience. Never, ever Chipotle because I simply don't like it. That's all there is to that.

                                                        I could easily generate a list of which fast food/quick serves I like and which I would never choose to visit again. It's a matter of taste and we all have our preferences. Believe it or not, when we hear the word "chain," not all of us jam our fingers in our ears and sing, "La, la, la, la." :-)

                                                      2. Based on what I'm seeing on this board, I guess it might not be the chowish thing to say, but I actually like Chipotle. I generally get a carnitas or barbacoa burrito, sometimes I'll get tacos, and I enjoy their chips and guacamole. That said, I think I've had just about all of the offerings on their fairly limited menu, and I've enjoyed just about every one of them.

                                                        There is a Chipotle about a block from my office, and I love having it there. Sure, there's an authentic Mexican place nearby, but I usually don't have time stop in and have a sit-down meal in the middle of my workday - and there are better options for a sit-down meal at lunch, anyway. Of course, I think I make better versions of most of what they serve at home - burritos, tacos and guacamole - but the convenience factor is often compelling, and I pick up something from Chipotle to take home for dinner. Unfortunately, I am all too well aware of how heavy their items are calorie-wise, so I only partake once in a while, but I wish I could go more. I do know this - Chipotle is a hundred times better, than the Moe's located just across the street from it.

                                                        So I appreciate Chipotle for what it is - a fast and convenient place I can get a pretty tasty burrito, bowl or tacos, and around these parts such places are few and far between. Sometimes I even crave Chipotle a little bit.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: MonMauler

                                                          My argument was that Chipotle is neither tasty nor convenient, what with the gummy, chipotle-free, mildly flavored burritos and the lines out the door where one can wait 15 minutes or more to get their food.

                                                          In fact, the taco trucks that part on the streets or the little storefront taquerias (which are not so popular with the non-Latino lunchtime crowd), are infinitely tastier and easier to get quick and cheap meal. No sit-down required.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                            Fortunately, taste is all relative. You're lucky to have access to taco trucks, but the vast majority of the country isn't as lucky. And judging by the crowds, some people obviously like gummy, chipotle-free, mildly flavored burritos. As for the wait, well, that's the reason nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.

                                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                              Love the Yogi reference, monkeyerotica.

                                                              But you're exactly right regarding the taste (and convenience) being relative. I know of exactly one taco truck or taco stand anywhere near my home or office, and they do, in fact, serve tastier, more authentic tacos at a better price than Chipotle. However, this taco stand is still more than a mile walk from my office, a distance I am not likely to venture when it is below freezing and windy. As for convenience, the Chipotle near me is close and I almost never eat at the busiest lunch time around here, which is from about 11:45 - 1:00. When I go, I am usually in and out of Chipotle in five minutes or less.

                                                            2. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Feel lucky to have access to excellent taco trucks. I will say that even if I had a taco truck nearby, I doubt I'd be able to get a burrito bowl.

                                                              1. re: NicoleFriedman

                                                                I've never had one object to giving me a plate of beans, meat, cheese, salsa...it may cost more for a "plate" than a burrito, and the paper plates sometimes aren't optimal (vs to-go boxes), but they'll do it.

                                                          2. Mr Taster, I think your doing it wrong! Burrito? Flour Tortilla? Rice? No way.

                                                            You wouldn't go to McDonalds to have a salad, would you? ;)

                                                            Big chains like this, *excel* at deep fried, breaded, salty, fatty, saucy, ooey-gooey-cheesy things....topped with more gooey cream (like sour cream and Guacamole)...sprinkled with a little lettuce! All served in single portion sizes that should feed a family of four.

                                                            Soooo............ here is how you do it: next time, in another fast food place,think -deep fried chicken chimachanga, beef and bean tostada, cheesy enchilada, "macho-nacho" with all the fixin's...you get the idea. Then, just eat 1/4 or 1/2 of it (lest you implode on the way home). If you do this occasionally- you should still be able to maintain your "girlish figure" and keep your heart rhythm steady while joining the masses. Salt and fat are tasty! That is why you have to wait in line for it. Really, Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Red Robin, McDonalds.... (they are all kind of the same), etc.etc. I think the hard shelled taco's (beef) with all the gooey toppings are good here.

                                                            For goodness sake, don't order anything that is relatively healthy or you will be disappointed! :)

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: sedimental

                                                              I think I can safely assume from your reply that you're unfamiliar with their menu.

                                                              Chipotle's whole schtick is that their food is "natural", "hormone free", etc. They have an extremely simple menu in which they assemble the same very basic ingredients (beans, salsa, meat, etc.) into a taco, a burrito, or a bowl. Nothing is deep fried except for the tortilla chips.

                                                              The simple menu makes my experience all the more disappointing. You'd think when things are so simple, you could execute them masterfully.

                                                              Mr Taster

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                You've struck a point that's been nagging at me for years. Just because something is "organic," "natural," "cruelty free," "locally sourced," etc, doesn't mean it's going to taste good. If someone chooses to purchase something based on these criteria, more power to them. Unfortunately, my experience with many upscale eateries that make a point of highlighting how organic and local their ingredients are, in many cases, don't necessarily end up serving a flavorful product. I don't know whether this is poor execution on the part of the cook or the raw material itself, but I've lost track of all the dry, flavorless "heritage" pork products and downright bad organic chicken meals I've had. Combine that with the fact that animals are bred to be far leaner than in the past, and less varieties of animal breeds are used, and you end up with some disappointing "organic" meals.

                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  Sorry, I was just being " cheeky".

                                                                  I went there once and had the chipotle flavored beef shredded stuff in hard taco shells and the chips. I covered them with goo (guacamole,corn salsa, sour cream) to get some flavor. I will not go back. I actually don' t think that fast food joints or big chains do "healthy" food well. I think they do junk food well, so I will stick with those!

                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                    As others have pointed out, it comes down to individual tastes. You don't like Chipotle? Just don't go back. I happen to love it and wish one would replace any of the horrid Mexican restaurants in my neigborhood that while seemingly are more "authentic", really stink.

                                                                2. You know, for the past several days, whenever I see the headline of this thread, I am reminded of some sort of cancer diagnosis. However, I don't think the chain could be as bad as that.

                                                                  I guess it depends on whether the bland beige lump is benign or not.

                                                                  1. Haven't been there in ages, so I'm not sure how the food at the Forum at Olympia Hills out in the Live Oak-Selma (Tx) area is.The few times I ate there it wasn't bad. Around here and the San Antonio area are a gadzillion mexican restaurants, so no need to really eat there.
                                                                    And yes there are great mexican places and lousy ones too,in the home of tex mex.

                                                                    1. in charlottesville, our carnitas was meat from polyface and i loved it. i really enjoy chipotle. is it salty? yeah, but you know.... so is a lot of the mexican food in the mission. bland, though? no. i love the salsas.. the rice. ive never had overcooked or undercooked rice at chipotle. when i amnot at my polyface chipotle do i order veggie? yeah.... but, i really have to say i enjoy this place.

                                                                      and at all the chipotles ive been to, they always have an abundance of the tabasco chipotle sauce on the condiment bar. so, they have a lovely, rather high quality hot sauce with an intense chipotle flavour to add to your meal if you desire. free of charge and to your tastes. so for those of you that say its ludicrous that they don't serve anything with chipotle in it, they actually kind of do.

                                                                      1. Not sure if I'll ever be able to eat at Chipotle again after seeing that geeky Steven Ells (founder of Chipotle) on "America's Next Great Restaurant" last night on NBC.

                                                                        1. Da Wife calls up yesterday and asks if i wanted to eat out at a "new Gourmet" Mexicna restaurant some one at her work alerted her to. I had errand and a workout to do, but not aware of any new places opening near the location she mentioned and loving good Mex-mex food, we opted to do take out and when she came home with the bag... I cracked up as the new gourment was...Chipotle! Tacos were (to use U Utah Phillip's Moose Turd Pie catch line) "Good though!".

                                                                          1. Count me in as a fan of chipotle. Chicken burrito with rice, black beans, pico de gallo, hot salsa, corn, lettuce, cheese and sour cream for me. Packed with delicious flavor and even makes me sweat a little. I don't know many other places that serve that much delicious food for 6 bucks.

                                                                            1. OP here.

                                                                              Went back today with a co-worker who loves the place.

                                                                              I brought a sandwich from home.

                                                                              Funny, during our visit no less than 3 different workers came over to ask exactly this question: "How is your food tasting?"

                                                                              What a pointed question!

                                                                              My food tasted great :) But I secretly wished that I had been eating Chipotle food, so I could have legitimately told them that it would have tasted *so* much better if it included actual chipotle.

                                                                              But I digress.

                                                                              As coincidence would have it, my Lovely Tasting Assistant™ (LTA™) visited another branch of Chiptole for the first time with her classmates last week. Hm, interesting... now I would get some input from someone whose taste buds I know intimately.

                                                                              She told me that her meal wasn't nearly as awful as I claimed mine was. (Remember, I had the "spicy" barbacoa burrito.) She ordered the chicken bowl, and claimed that the chicken had a nice smokiness to it. She said it was ok.

                                                                              Since I found myself with my Italian grinder sitting across from a coworker eating a Chipotle chicken bowl, I had to ask him for a taste.

                                                                              I took a forkful.

                                                                              Well, my LTA™ was right. This wasn't quite as bad. The two most offensive traits in my prior meal were not there.... there was no gummy tortilla to sticking to the roof of my mouth (because there was no tortilla in the bowl), and the char flavor on the chicken came through to counteract the total lack of any other pronounced flavor.

                                                                              It was still a poor, poor meal. This was essentially a bowl of bland vegetables (the cheese and beans brought virtually no flavor to the party, as with my burrito) so what I ate was essentially a small forkful of smoky char countered by lots of watery crunchiness from the vegetables.

                                                                              This was not as offensive in its inoffensiveness, but it was certainly not delicious by any stretch.

                                                                              Count me as not a fan.

                                                                              Mr Taster

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                Mr. Taster, you described the chicken buritto ( my go to meal ) Perfectly. The tortilla being somewhat sticky and the over the top char flavor on the chicken. What is ironic my guilty pleasure of enjoying that burrito is same reason you hate it.. (which I totally understand )

                                                                                1. re: Augie6

                                                                                  Yeah, I love the sticky burrito wrapper. Mr. Taster, try my burrito as described above...I swear it's impossible not to like.

                                                                              2. Two coworkers invited me out to lunch. Guess where they wanted to go? (Don't worry, I brought a turkey pesto sandwich from elsewhere!)

                                                                                Anyway, I'd heard on good advice that apparently there is a kind of sauce that they offer at the register, which ACTUALLY CONTAINS CHIPOTLE (smoked jalapenos) but you have to ask for it specifically. I convinced my coworker to grab one so that we could give it a whirl.

                                                                                (I do think it's pathetic that in a place named Chipotle (capital "C") that you have to dig so deeply to find some chipotle (small "c")... imagine going to a restaurant named "Bob's Burgers" and have to go off menu to actually find the burgers.

                                                                                Anyway, I'm trying to temper my expectations, but I'm thinking chipotle en adobo sauce is a wonderfully fragrant, spicy thing that can kick up the flavor profile of many things, and most assuredly could add such MUCH needed flavor to the flavorless nonsense at Chipotle. I was intrigued.

                                                                                So, he brings back a little cup of the stuff-- a brownish sauce, not quite a deep mahogany like real adobo sauce would be, but hey-- my expectations are low. Even a little diluted adobo would make me happy.

                                                                                I take a taste.


                                                                                This is so bad!

                                                                                The first punch is SALT, followed up by a wallop of SOUR. Repulsive! And finally, WAAAAY in the back.... the tiniest, most subtle hint of smoke. But it only came out once the WHACK of salt and the URF of sour subsides.

                                                                                Just wretched. Even my two Chipotle (capital "C") loving colleagues thought it was dreck.

                                                                                Oh Chipotle. What am I going to do with you.

                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                18 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                  I'm pretty much with you re Chipotle. I don't find it awful, but generally inoffensive. I too cannot understand the lines out the door (especially in southern CA where I live and where wonderful Mexican food is available)...but then I can't understand the almost "cult status" of In 'n Out which I find equally poor.

                                                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                    Sorry, I know this thread is pretty dead, but it sounds to me like you need to get some facts straight, Mr. Taster. And let the chipotle name thing go.. it's just a name. At least it relates to the cuisine. Would you expect Applebee's to have apples all over the menu? What do names like Qdoba or Domino's even mean? Just seems odd to get so hung up on that.

                                                                                    Anyway, the meats, except for carnitas, are marinated in chipotle adobo. They aren't slathered in it, that would be gross and I don't think I've ever seen adobo served as a sauce in a restaurant before. Check out their site http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/in.... And the chipotle sauce that you're referring to (which you certainly don't need to ask for specifically since there are always about 12 bottles of it by the drinks) has about as much to do with Chipotle the restaurant as McDonald's Chipotle BBQ Bacon Angus Burger. It's manufactured by Tabasco and goes along with the two other Tabasco sauces that Chipotle provides.

                                                                                    Anyway, hope I didn't come across as insulting, but I do like Chipotle and your review seems to be the product of the fact that you have a mild obsession with adobo sauce and were disappointed to not find it.

                                                                                    1. re: matthew18

                                                                                      I was at Baja Fresh yesterday, which I rarely go to. But I had a short time to eat and this was the most palatable option. I ordered one of Baja's "bowls"-- the "skinny chicken" bowl, relatively comparable to what Chipotle serves. Char grilled chicken over veggies with a flavored rice.

                                                                                      The difference was shocking. I'm not saying that Baja's bowl was divine. It was tolerable, fine. But it was actually *flavorful*. There was a bit of spice whereas Chipotle has none. The chicken was overcooked on the char grill but it actually tasted like something *other* than smoke and salt, which is Chipotle's flavor profile. You could taste the marination (and see it on the chicken, compared to the pale whiteness and black char lines on Chipotle's chicken). The vegetables in the Baja bowl (I'm thinking of the zucchini) had been cooked down beforehand so that they didn't release buckets of moisture into the bowl.

                                                                                      Again, this was not great food. But somebody actually took the time to take a few extra steps to make the food taste like something. Chipotle's mess is just haphazard thrown into a bowl.

                                                                                      So you see it seems that Baja's chicken bowl addresses the most offensive attributes of Chipotle's monstrosity. And its merely a bonus that Baja don't advertise their bowls with descriptors that don't actually appear in any tangible, tasteable form!

                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                        Come on Taster...let's be reasonable. No one is claiming that Chipotle or Baja Fresh are anything more than acceptably decent fast food restaurants where if you're hungry you can get an ok lunch or snack. I live 10 minutes away from downtown Santa Ana, CA where you can get some of the best authentic Mexican food in the U.S., but occasionally I feel like having a burrito or a few tacos for lunch and I don't feel like driving the 10 minutes. Chipotle and Baja Fresh are just down the street and although not great, they are generally inoffensive and perfectly fine for an occasional lunch or snack. Every meal doesn't have to be a five star treat!

                                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                                          Hi josephnl,

                                                                                          In painting the two with the same broad brushstroke, you missed the main thrust of my observation. My argument is not against Quasi-Mexi-Fast & Fresh. It's against Chipotle, specifically, for preparing their food with hardly any flavor.

                                                                                          My point was that the skinny chicken char grilled bowl at Baja Fresh was far tastier (on an order of magnitude) than the comparable char grilled chicken bowl at Chipotle.

                                                                                          Try it next time. Eat the Baja skinny chicken bowl next to a Chipotle chicken bowl. The difference is startling. One is raw, watery and largely flavorless. The other is seasoned, marinated and actually cooked with some degree of care.

                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                            We have about 20 Chipotle's in the area. No "authentic" Mexican places (all tex-mex) and no Baja Fresh's at all. I think the closest one is over an hour away. So yeah, I go to Chipotle. I find it tasty. I have never had the chicken, I get the chargrilled pork bowl with the pinto beans, which are made with bacon, and it's very flavorful, thank you very much. I get a mix of the mild and spicy salsa and it's plenty hot for me. If you have better or different choices where you live that you like, great. Where I live, it's Applebee's land and there aren't very many choices for fast casual (panera, boston market) and the indie places are very, very few and mostly very, very bad. So it really does depend on where you live and what you order IMO.

                                                                                            1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                              No offense please, it seems that uou are in the Cleveland area, so you may not have had authentic TexMex unless you've been to Texas. You are right about it not being authentic Mexican, but it is it's own food regional group drawing from northern Mexico and the many varied regions in Texas. When it is poorly done, it is very bad, I think ChiChi's poor imitation, but when it is right and authentic, it is delicious. Here's a local food historians take on TexMex where he helped open a new restaurant with emerging super chef Bryan Caswell devoted to old school TexMex.


                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                I was using it instead of "mexican" as that's what most Americanized Mexican is referred to. Colloquially, people say, "Oh, is it authentic Mexican?" "No, it's Tex-Mex" meaning the typical enchiladas covered in cheese thing that many Americans like (myself included), but it's not authentic Mexican food at all. Whether that's the correct term or not, that's how people refer to it. I've never heard anyone say "Americanized Mexican" like they do "Americanized Chinese."

                                                                                                1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                  I agree, but there is a thing known as authentic TexMex a regional food started in Texas with roots in northern Mexico. I doubt most Americans have had really good TexMex. While part of it is enchiladas in cheese, how many have had fresh ground chiles in a noncanned enchilada sauce, freshly made puffy tacos, or individual nachos with good cheese and not the gloopy pile that many associate with nachos. I used your post in part as a reaction to a Anthony Bodain and Andrew Zimmerman dismissive put down as it being nachos and pre-formed taco shells, while they had a nirvana experience at a Mexican taco stand in Brooklyn. He should really come to Houston where he could have the same experience on hundreds of street corners, but he won't except to plug a book or that tour he was on. I apologize for the rant, but I am a little defensive and proud, as anyone in New York or New Haven is about their pizza, and Chicagoans about their dogs and pizza. Please read the link I provided, and ironically as this thread is about burritos, I'm in my fifties and just had my first burrito, supplied at a company function, they're just not TexMex. Check out the new Houston place, or the San Antonio menu from the 40's, nary a burrito in sight.


                                                                                                  1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                    Im confused....

                                                                                                    so you can only eat "real tex-mex" if you travel to Texas? Mexicans/Texans dont travel and open up eateries elsewhere?

                                                                                                    Burritos arent texmex because some restaurant menu from the 1940's doesnt list them? I find it ....interesting.....that the restaurant "el real tex-mex cafe" from your link has a picture of burger on the homepage. Are burgers now tex-mex?

                                                                                                    With all types of cuisines you have good and bad, authentic and not. Lets not pretend that you have never had "real Italinan" if you havent been to Rome.

                                                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                      Ok, on point one, the opening of restaurants around the country, I agree. It's like pizza places in Houston, two of my favorites are from a man from Connecticut and a couple of cousins from Queens. It it better than some of the pizza in New York I tried, but by no means all. I'll still stick by my statement that most Americans have never had really good TexMex but poor examples as in my original statement, a la ChiChi's, a total abomination that has seen a good deal of love on Chowhound. If you read the menu, the burger isn't on the menu, yet may be and is available at select times. Most cities I have been to in northern Mexico have Hambrguesa on the menu, and yesterday at the local Whataburger most of the clientle were Hispanic, my wife included. As for the burrito, again I'm in my fifties and have just tried my first. When I grew up, they just weren't on the menu.

                                                                                                      1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                        In no way am I trying to be smart here, but how does one make it into their 50's without ever having a burrito? Im also not sure what point that makes, are you saying burritos just arent available where you live (today, no 40 years ago)? I find that highly unlikely no matter what part of the country you live in.

                                                                                                        1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                          Again, they were not on them menu when I grew up and I really have no interest in a giant flour tortilla stuffed with beans, rice, and whatever. I never saw a flour tortilla until Ninfa's in Houston introduced the taco al carbon in the 70's which later started the fajita craze. My hispanic wife, who is from the Rio Grande Valley, Tex Mex ground zero, just walked in and I asked her if she ate burritos when she grew up, younger than me, and her answer was no, she'd only seen them frozen in gas stations. Here's a well respected TexMex place in San Antonio, Rosario's.


                                                                                                          No burrito, and another Los Barrios, one, not a whole section.


                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                            I can think of alot of things that were not available or "not on the menu" 25 years ago that are available to most Americans today. Sushi, Indian food, Korean food just to name a few. Just because I didnt grow up with these food doesnt mean I am going to be adverse to trying these new things.

                                                                                                            I understand that burritos are more of a modern day invention, regardless they are now permanently entrenched as part of tex/mex cuisine, and one of the more popular dishes! Things dont stay the same forever!

                                                                                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                              I will admit the burrito I had was pretty darn tootin' from a local chain named Mission Burritos. It's just not something I will order at my favorite TexMex place. Other things change as well, like nachos, which were invented in a Mexican border town, just cheese and jalapenos. AgainI'm pretty much a purist on these, but there are a couple of exceptions I make at some places here. I'll put a really good piece of beef fajita on one, or chorizo. We have a place that puts fresh lump bluecrab meat on them, but I usually pick off most of the crab because it's so good. I don't like a big pile of toppings on mine as most do up north, and some down here. The cheese also needs to be cheddar, or a combo with jack. I know, Augie6 I'm picky.


                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                I agree 100% with everything on that list, expect crab (no seafood for me ) hahah it looks like I'm getting some mexican treats tonight.

                                                                                                              2. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                                Not that modern-day; they've been on the menu at El Cholo here in LA since the 1930s (proudly serving Sonoran food to this day). Areas as far-flung as Guanajuato and Sonora states, Ciudad Juárez (across the border from El Paso) and the Central Valley here in CA claim that burritos were invented there. But in the US, burritos have been part of Southwestern and California Mexican since the early part of the 20th century.

                                                                                                                Now, I'm originally from the Eastern US, so I never saw a burrito until the late 70s and the invasion of the chain atrocities like Chi-Chi's (ahh, chimichangas and tainted green onions!...). But we've got so many permutations of burritos here in California it's getting a little crazy. Having said that, I'm now craving a kogi burrito SO bad...!

                                                                                                            2. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                              James, this is i not direct towards you (its directed to an aunt I have) For some reason with Mexican Food and Tex-Mex people get very narrow minded. My aunt is dead set that everyone is getting feed horse feed, because it is not a "traditional" Meal. It drives me crazy. She again will not eat nachos or burritos and numerous other very tastey dishes if done correctly (she also likes saying its frozen gas station food) ...

                                                                                      2. 100% agreed, Mr Taster. A Chipotle burrito is a gummy, flavorless abomination. They should be ashamed to push it as "Mexican".

                                                                                        Its success just discourages restauranteurs from opening eateries using some of the more assertive and unique flavors of Mexican cuisine.

                                                                                        And I love chipotle en adobo too. Too bad you can't get any there...!

                                                                                        1. I tihnk the grilled chicken burrito is pretty good. Have to get it with VERY little rice and pinto beans instead of black beans. All the other meat choices are pretty meh.

                                                                                          1. The first time I went to Chipotle, I ordered the taco trio or whatever. 2 Chicken and 1 veggie. cheese, guac, sour cream, salsa. I didn't get the lettuce because it was brown. The first couple bites were good, but then I got this horrific bilge like rancid taste. It wasn't the sour cream (I checked) nor the cheese (its sharp cheddar). I didn't finish my meal (believe me I tried). I went again today with some friends, I ordered the guac and chips. Chips were stale and overly salty. The guac was good. So yeah, not going back.

                                                                                            1. so where exactly did you what them to put the chipotle? if you want Mexican order something Mexican. You ordered medium spicy salsa and want real chipotle? Ha!

                                                                                              1. I've had very decent burritos and tacos at Chipotle.

                                                                                                I think that people who are getting bland food there are ordering things that are bland. I've never had meat there that I would consider remotely "bland".

                                                                                                I very much appreciate their flavored rice. Cilantro is essential to the flavor of southwestern/californian style Mexican-American food.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                                                  "I think that people who are getting bland food there are ordering things that are bland. I've never had meat there that I would consider remotely 'bland.'"

                                                                                                  Au contraire-- people who are getting bland food at Chipotle are getting what's on the menu. The food there is BLAND. Buh-LAND. It has little flavor. Maybe in comparison to milder food (oatmeal, vanilla ice cream, water) it's lively and flavorful.

                                                                                                  But I think most of us complainers are used to more assertive cuisines, and not just Mexican; I go nuts for Thai and Szechuan and Hunan dishes, when my stomach can handle them (and I've got Pepsid on hand), and there is no shortage of excellent choices in my usual dining areas. But the food doesn't even have to be spicy-hot; I am mad for Japanese, Vietnamese, Cuban and Argentinian food too, and these are far from spicy. Or, for that matter, Spanish, Italian, French,....

                                                                                                  No. Chipotle menu items are just bland, insipid specters of Mexican food. Like a 10,000th Xerox copy of Mexican food. Boring. Why anyone would queue up for that slop when there's a Lotería! Grill half a block away here in Santa Monica is beyond my comprehension. Oh well....

                                                                                                  1. re: rjw_lgb_ca

                                                                                                    So since you would never go to Chipotle, but you know that the food is consistently bland, how did you reach that conclusion not ever having actually tasted all of their food?

                                                                                                    1. re: Virginian

                                                                                                      Oh, I've given it a few chances-- I work in Santa Monica two blocks from Chipotle (and literally dozens of other lunch and dinner choices within a quarter-mile of my office) and have tried several items, trying to find something good. After all, it's not expensive, it's relatively quick and the ingredients aren't junk, there had to be SOMETHING that tasted good.

                                                                                                      Not really.

                                                                                                      The main course items, the rice, the beans and the various condiments are the culinary equivalent of off-white. The word that comes to mind is-- insipid. Dull. Even the cilantro had a faded, distant taste, and how do you manage that?!?

                                                                                                      However, the chips they serve alongside their dull guacamole and salsas were so oversalted they burned the corners of my mouth.

                                                                                                      If you like the place, good for you. But I've given up on it. Inoffensive, maybe, but unsatisfying-- for me. YMMV. :-)

                                                                                                2. I rarely eat sauce with real Texas BBQ, it doesn't need it.