I have never been to Chipotle!
Planning to go soon though, one just opened nearby! Recommendations on what to order?
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.
>> 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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.