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I have never been to Chipotle!

Planning to go soon though, one just opened nearby! Recommendations on what to order?

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  1. I thought I really disliked chipotle the first time I had it and couldn't figure out why people love it so much. The real discovery is that I HATE burritos. I think they are dry and awful and that big nasty flour wrap on it just is not tasty to me, no matter how/where it's made. It's gummy and nasty and I don't care for it.

    When I started ordering the BOWLs at Chipotle, I was surprised how much I loved it. And since I am a supporter of their conscious sourcing, I was happy to become a more regular patron. If you are just starting out, I suggest a grilled chicken or carnitas (pork) bowl. I think they are really good. The pinto beans are my fave, they have a smoky flavor because they have bacon in them, and then you pick your own toppings from the salsas they have (mild, medium, hot, plus a corn salsa) and guac or no guac, sour cream and cheese or no. Lots of combos even though the menu looks relatively small.

    Oh, also, their food is really salty and though tasty, does have a lot of calories. If you are looking to cut the salt and fat, go for the brown rice (most have this now, instead of their white/jasmine rice), black beans and skip the sour cream, cheese and guac. I got that a lot when I was dairy free due to BFing and it was still very tasty.

    5 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      >> I think they are dry and awful and that big nasty flour wrap on it just is not tasty to me, no matter how/where it's made. It's gummy and nasty and I don't care for it.

      This is my personal theory, founded on my first hand experiences with the restaurant, and with the people I know who eat there. Your mileage may vary.

      I'm here to tell you that fresh, well made tortillas are not gummy and nasty.

      What you're identifying is the elephant in the room. It's the dirty little secret that people like to ignore and explain away without holding Chipotle accountable (as you did...) which is:

      Chipotle's food really isn't very good.

      It's poorly executed, under-seasoned Ameri-Mex, passed through the additional blanding filter of the Midwest.

      The success of this restaurant chain is really surprising to me. One would think that with salsa as the #1 condiment in America, you'd think we'd have moved beyond this kind of thing at least a decade ago.

      Why aren't more people across America calling Chipotle out on this little problem of overly salty, gummy burritos, and bland food?

      Here's my personal experience with them. A Chipotle opened down the street from my office, and it was an immediate hit with my coworkers. I gave it a shot (twice). I took a bite of my barbacoa burrito (the one described by the Latina counter worker as "the spiciest" of the meats.)

      First reaction: The same awful gumminess of the steamed tortilla, just as you describe it.
      Second reaction: The utter blandness of everything else. Crunchy vegetables (but watery and bland), bland meat, with salt as the forward flavor. On my second visit I had the grilled chicken bowl, which had CHAR! + SALT! as the forward flavors-- blunt and not nuanced in the slightest. The subtraction of the gummy tortilla and the addition of smoky char were both positive changes compared with my first terrible experience, but it was still an awfully sub par, unseasoned bowl of food.

      To add insult to injury, when I went to the counter to ask for some chipotle en adobo to spice up my sad burrito, they told me they DON'T HAVE ANY. Seriously? The NAME OF YOUR RESTAURANT IS CHIPOTLE and you don't have any chipotle?! Sheesh.

      It's like going to Burger King and finding out they only sell hot dogs.

      It appears to me that the founder (a guy from Indianapolis) picked an exotic sounding name, figuring most people that eat there won't ask or know what chipotle actually is.

      Before dismissing this idea, consider the context and genesis of the Chipotle concept.

      It's 1993, Denver, Colorado. It's probably fair to hypothesize that most of their customer base had no idea what an actual chipotle was, or even how to pronounce the word. (I know I wouldn't have.) So he picks this exotic, attention getting name to entice non-Mexicans (read: well-intentioned, internationally curious, but unworldly white people- which includes a large group of people who don't know or don't care what good, well seasoned Mexican food actually tastes like). It was a hit, and now they're a force of nature-- so much so that they've convinced people in my great city of Los Angeles (where there is no lack of excellent, flavorful, well-seasoned Mexican food) that their bland stuff is worthy of my coworkers' lunch dollars. It boggles the mind.

      Please know, I'm not bashing Ameri-Mex as a concept. In the right hands, Ameri-Mex can be delicious. My only point is that in Chipotle's hands, it is not. I believe it's all smoke and mirrors. The emperor's new clothes.

      In case you can't tell, I'm not a fan.

      Mr Taster

        1. re: Mr Taster

          I get the salad bowl with brown rice, pico de gallo, corn, black beans and chicken. I find it filling and healthy. NO chips, guac or sauce as that ads too many calories

          1. re: Mr Taster

            I agree completely. I don't understand the appeal to this place. If it were 1995, sure. My favorite restaurant growing up in the late 80s/early 90s was Chi Chi's for Christ's sake. But it's 2013 and there are good Mexican restaurants everywhere. The run-down dump of a city in Southern Indiana that I lived in for the last 5 years, with a population of 50,000 people, has *5* good Mexican restaurants, one of which is a local place with a very similar setup as Chipotle, focusing on burritos. For the price of a meal at Chipotle I can go to a real Mexican restaurant and get a sizzling molcajete with chicken, shrimp, steak, pico de gallo, queso fresco, grilled nopales, jalapeno, and green onions, with tortillas, rice, and beans. And chips and salsa. It takes me at least 2 meals to eat it. Why would I eat at Chipotle? Having said that, it IS a lot better than Moe's Southwest Grill and Qdoba.

            1. re: Mr Taster

              i just cannot wrap my mouth and brain around a burrito that is a mishmash of meat, rice, beans and some warm lettuce and tomatoes. it just is not right.

          2. Chipotle is the only fast food I (occasionally) eat. I prefer the bowls as well. My standard order is a carnitas bowl with brown rice, lettuce, beans (black and pinto), and mild tomato salsa. Much saltier than my usual tastes, but really good.

            The cheese is okay, but with all the other flavors it gets lost -- not worth the extra sodium on top of what's there.

            I get two solid meals out of one bowl :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Rilke

              Oh yeah -- and fajita veg! Knew I was forgetting something :-P

            2. I'm hopelessly addicted to Chipotle.

              I get either a burrito or a bowl with rice, fajita veggies, barbacoa, medium corn salsa, cheese, guac, and sour cream. If I'm really loading it on, add an order of chips and guac. Be warned -- the burrito is seriously dense. They are lovingly referred to as "5 lb baby Jesus" burritos in the office.

              1. It's pretty good if you avoid the tortillas. Seriously they are steamed and gummy, they stick to your teeth and add about 200 worthless calories to your meal. A barbacoa bowl with plenty of vegetables and easy on the rice can be a fairly healthy and tasty meal.

                1. Only been there a couple of times as there is no Chipotle in my area, nor anywheres near. I love love LOVE the bowls. Like a previous poster, not a fan of burritos with the huge floury wrap, but the bowls. Ah...the BOWLS. I love it so much I've made Chi-faux-tle at home with the help of online copycat recipes. It doesn't turn out exactly the same but close enough to enjoy. Mmmmm....Get a bowl, barbacoa, lime cilantro rice, beans, top with salsa, sour cream, cheese -- one of my faves.

                  1. I love the bowls as well, and usually stick the the fajita veggies with no rice, black beans, guac and corn salsa.
                    Sometimes I order the chicken tacos, with soft corn tortillas. You can pick flour or corn. I load those up with beans, lettuce, chicken, and salsa. Quite light actually.

                    1. I prefer the bowl too, and always get the veggie, mostly b/c I love the grilled peppers and onions but also b/c guac is included in the veggie options. My trick (who knows, maybe it's everyone's) is to get all the salsas and not just one.

                      1. Part of the appeal must be like Subway's..The customer feels (and maybe they are) getting a quick healthy meal. No McDonalds or Bk..or Taco Bell. Subway and Chipotle.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: rochfood

                          Perhaps some people feel this way. I consider Chipotle to be an occasional unhealthier (than my usual diet) treat.

                        2. I love Chipotle and even love the gummy tortilla ;-) I go at least once a week and have a variety of things I will get. My go-to it a vegetarian burrito with a small amount of rice, black beans, green salsa and guacamole. I seriously love their guac.

                          Other items in my rotation:
                          Burrito bowl with white rice, pork, green salsa
                          Burrito bowl with white rice, chicken, corn salsa, small amount of sour cream
                          Crunchy tacos with shredded beef, green salsa and lettuce

                          As has been pointed out, my only gripe is that the cheese is bland and gets lost in the shuffle. I leave it out as an easy way to cut back on calories that aren't missed.

                          1. I too go about once a week. Do not go into it expecting it to be like real Mexican food though... it's good and flavorful, but not the same as Mexican food. I think that's where a lot of people get hung up. That being said, I don't find the flavors to be bland at all, and I did not grow up in a homogenized "white people" neighborhood or anything like that, so it's not like my palate is used to bland food. I'm pretty plain with my order though.. I get a bowl with white rice, steak, hot salsa, and cheese. The other salsas are very good too but I like it hot. I usually get it to go so by the time I get to where I'm going to eat it, the cheese is nice and melty. I mix it all together before eating it and it's delicious and filling, and all for under 500 calories, which you can't say about any other fast food place pretty much. Since I'm on a limited calorie diet, Chipotle has been a godsend for me.

                            And the tortilla is more like 300 calories, not 200 :)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: juliejulez

                              As I understand it, you are close. The tortilla is at least 300 calories, alone. A regular carnitas burrito will run you close to 1200 calories, maybe more. That said, I LOVE chipotle and partake often. It's an indulgence and no where near healthy as far as I'm concerned. I think it's really tasty and partake as much as my body will allow it.

                              1. re: MonMauler

                                Yup if it you pile it all on, it's not that low calorie, but no worse than a bacon cheeseburger and fries from a similar fast casual restaurant and much better quality of ingredients most likely. If you're curious, I use this site to add up the calories :) http://chipotlefan.com/index.php?id=n...

                                The other thing that was a little surprising to me was the amount of sodium in the salsas. But, I'm not about to stop having those! Just no chips.

                            2. "never been to Chipotle...Planning to go soon though"

                              C'mon, you can hold out.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                agree totally. i live in BOSTON and there are five real mexican places i would go to before i set foot in a chipotle. where do you live? there must be some kind of mom and pop local joint where all the landscape guys eat, no?

                                1. re: hyde

                                  I live in Los Angeles and there are five thousand real Mexican places people could go to instead of Chipotle! Tons of mom and pop local joints and they line up for Chipotle. I've been a few times when I went with co-workers. I was along for the ride and I'd see how little of each item actually goes into the burrito (especially the meat) and I was amazed that people will pay so much for so little!

                                  I think it's a matter of marketing over value and flavor.

                                  1. re: Kate is always hungry

                                    I have a theory that people go to chain places because they don't want to be surprised. In other words, they know what to expect and are scared of getting something like food poisoning, etc. from a new independent place.
                                    One time I was at work and the group consensus was to go to Chipotle, so I went once. I wasn't impressed with the burrito and I thought the tortilla was mediocre. Normally I give any place 2-3 chances on the oft chance it was an off day for the place, but I pretty much swore off going back. I found a few independent taqueria type places and they make their own tortillas. My personal favorite place has 2 gals who make fresh tortillas and a good fresh tortilla is impressive. When I get a machaca burrito it has some moisture from the cooked bell peppers, onions and such. The tortilla is really thin and doesn't tear or break. It's sealed on the edge with the grill and you have to be careful near the end of the burrito that the trapped juices don't overflow as you bite into the thing. One of the guys I work with is hispanic and claims to really know Mexican food and he swears by Chipotle. He also told me about a Mexican restaurant and the food there didn't impress me either.
                                    I think he's more a quantity over quality guy, because the Mexican joint has burritos that are huge, but to me not very good.

                                    1. re: Feed_me

                                      You also need to consider that a lot of chain locations are in business districts so people frequent them during the day when they have few options and develop a taste for them when they get home or on the weekends. It's more of a familiarity issue.

                              2. http://chipotlefan.com/index.php?id=n...

                                It is high protein food and it can be healthy and good for you and tasty

                                I eat this after working out quite a bit

                                Get the burrito bowl with , pinto beans, pepper and onions, sour cream, and mild salsa, and lettuce

                                That bowl will fill you up and still have good flavor

                                It is important to skip the cheese and rice and no corn salsa or you will have to many calories

                                Give that a whirl for healthy with flavor and if you drink a lot of water the sodium levels while high aren't that big of an issue

                                1. I went yesterday for the first time. The place was crowded with college students and I was in sensory overload and didn't know what to order, so I went with my old standby - hard tacos. What can I say; I love them. I ordered two of the barbacoa tacos with lettuce, medium salsa, cheese and guac. I liked the taco shell; it was crunchy and light and tasted fresh and the barbacoa meat was flavorful and generous (and was identifiable as meat). The one taco pretty much filled me up but I have to say that the salsa was a watery, drippy mess and it was an effort not to get it on my clothes. I asked for some foil and a bag to take the other taco to go and by the time I got home it was mush, even though I had taken pains to pour as much liquid out of the thing before packing it up.

                                  As far as fast-food Mexican it was okay, but memorable? Not really. I'd forgotten all about it until I read the title of this thread. I hadn't even thought about a "next time".

                                  1. I find it hopelessly bland, but will be taking some tips from this thread if I ever go again.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jaykayen

                                      With all of rice, tortilla, sour cream, and cheese - you can definitely increase the bland factor. I get a bowl with lettuce on the bottom and then a little rice. I also ask for multiple salsas to get different extra veggies as well as for the various spice levels.

                                      Personally I skip the sour cream, go light on the cheese, and if I want guacamole get it on the side so that I can add the amount I want as opposed ot having a large glop in the middle.

                                      I don't live in the US now - but that is one meal that I always make sure to get when I visit my parents. As well as "more authentic" Mexican. I see the two as being second cousins as opposed to closer relations.

                                    2. I went to Chipotle a couple of years ago while in NYC for a concert. LOVED the steak burrito I had.

                                      A new location just opened up in my town. A group of us from work went and had a terrible experience. $2+ extra for guacamole? Said guac had jalapeƱos in it and was served without comment to a coworker who specifically asked which meat was least-spicy as she couldn't handle any heat. When my burrito was being wrapped, it was clear that the tortilla wasn't going to close. I asked the manager if it was going to fall apart and his response was "well, she's new". Of course it promptly self-destructed when I tried to eat it so I wound up eating just the filling with a fork.

                                      I tweeted and emailed Chipotle about our experience and they agreed that the service was terrible. They sent me a gift card for 4 meals so our group can try them again.