HOME > Chowhound > Chains >


Baja Fresh Vs Chiptole, a strange tale

It always puzzle me that how come Baja Fresh can't compete with Chiptole, specially it is Baja Fresh that made the hot and fresh burrito out of the grill while Chiptole is just hot water warmed meat. There are not much difference between the price if u consider the monthly baja fresh coupon. My logic is: Better food= more customer.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm confused... every Chipotle I've been to, the meat is cooked on the grill/griddle right behind where they serve it... they cut it right next to the griddle then put it out to serve... no hot water involved?

    1. Marketing and business strategy maybe? Keep in mind that Chipotle has the backing of McDonald's so they may have had more capital to grow.

      2 Replies
      1. re: jsdav

        I thought that McDonald's divested their Chipotle holdings back in 2006?

      2. I mean as in the meat are grill and then move to steam table to keep warm.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Xellosw2099

          And replenished very frequently. They may not be the greatest assembled product, but they do focus on freshness and quality of what goes inside.

        2. Chipotle also appeals to the unique market that wants organic food, meat with no hormones/antibiotics, locally sourced when possible, etc.

          I also see them fresh cooking Chipotle meat in the background when I go.

          1. Size of the burritos.

            Chipotle > Baja Fresh = Chipotle more popular.

            1. its franchise control IMO. baja fresh was started in somewhat of my home town and the originals were amazing. the portion size was huge (as an estimate, the burritos were 3 times bigger), and quality was consistent and great. if you happen upon any of the original stores, while not as amazing as when it first started is still tasty.

              it expanded after being bought out by i think wendy's? whatever they opened just sucked. even in ca.. they're just gross.

              i also miss the little things they did like grilled green onions/scallions and lime with every burrito.

              usually chipotle has better sourced meat. they care about organics/sustainable, but i'd still eat at baja fresh any day. burrito ultimo with steak, i can eat every day. mmmmmm

              3 Replies
              1. re: arjunsr

                Burrito Ultimo is the best... combo it with Enchilado style and it streamroll ANYTHING chipotle have to offer. In all logic sense it Baja Fresh should win.

                Chiptole vs. Baja Burrito
                Rice = Tie (Mexican burritos = no rice, just meat + pico or guac)
                Salsa = Baja, WAY more different choice and free
                Chips = Baja, Free chip with every burrito
                Burrito = Baja (more meat and more choice like fish and shrimp).
                Price = Tie
                Tortillas = Chipotle wins
                Vegatable= Baja ; Fire roast vegatable>>>> cold lettuce
                temperature of food = Baja ; no cold lettuce

                And i don;t care if the place is clean or it is organic, as long as it taste good and it is HOT in temperature, it is a win for me. WAY too many time I have a stone cold burrito at chipotle.

                I have to admit it is faster at chipotle but that is about all it does. What do you expect from assembly line burrito builder. AT BJ, they grill their shrimp fresh thus it take time to cook.

                1. re: arjunsr

                  I went to the very first Baja Fresh store on the very first day it opened in 1990, a few doors down from where I worked at the corner of Wendy and Kimber drives in Newbury Park Ca. In fact the owner (if I remember correctly his name was Jim) came in and asked if he could put his menus on our counter. I said "Sure" and he invited me to come on over for a comped meal.

                  The food was GREAT back then, and actually stayed pretty consistent for a long time. I now live in Las Vegas, and the Baja Fresh's I've visited here are just not the same.

                  An amusing side note: Those menus used to have slogans around the outer boarder such as "No MSG", No Refrigerators" and the one which was only on the first few versions of the menu "No Rap Music". I swear it on my life, lol.

                  A not so amusing side note: That Baja Fresh was a number of years later moved to the other side of the 101 Freeway, and then eventually last year that location was shuttered.

                2. Every Baja Fresh I have ever been in (in the NYC area) has been not clean and the service is passable. Every Chipotle I have ever been in is always clean, well-staffed and extremely fast. That difference can make or break you in this area. Plus, I think Chipotle's food is much fresher and tastier.

                  1. Both have good food. BF, I think, uses a cheaper commercial tortilla and is rather rubbery. I always request all meat burritos. Chipotle uses the same proportioned amount of meat they would use if beans/rice were added. Thus, the end result is a burrito that is 1/3 the normal size whereas BF actually fills the tortilla with meat so it is equal in size to one containing rice/beans and at no extra charge.

                    1. I've never been to Baja Fresh, but just read in a local paper that they are closing all of their Phoenix locations. I wonder if the competition from Chipotle was too much for them to handle, either that or it may have just been the overall poor economic climate here.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: SavoryTv

                        I think La Salsa is more of a direct competitor to Baja Fresh than Chipotle.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Ipsedixit, thanks for your input, I certainly don't have my finger on the pulse as I am just here temporarily...I need to try La Salsa before I go!

                          1. re: SavoryTv

                            Don't worry, even if you miss out, you're life won't be any worse off because of it.

                      2. It Boils down to food, service and cleanliness.

                        Food at BF is meh, nothing really excites me, plus sometimes it's very over-cooked. (Chipotles does just a few things but they do them very well and there is consistency across the US.

                        Service - Chipotles wins hands down in speed and friendliness, Have been snarled at in a BF.

                        Cleanliness - again Chipotles wins hands down, BF got voted dirtiest chain in our town.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: RetiredChef

                          Agree with you on all points, RetiredChef.

                        2. In my area of Southern California, I rarely see a Baja Fresh, but Chipotle stores are plentiful. I only ate at a Baja Fresh and it did not impress me, whereas Chipotle gives me a consistent chicken burrito bowl every time if that's what I happen to want at the time. If I want Mexican food, there's a couple of local taco shops that take care of that craving wonderfully.

                          1. In high school I loved BF. however large portions and high calories led me to avoid.

                            Don't have any around here now although wish we did because the local Mexican chain leaves something to be desired. I miss their mild salsa. I used to stock up on it in to go containers when I would be home from college. Now I pretty much make my own. BF has variety of menu on its side. But if cleanliness has suffered I too would probably go to Chipotle over BF if we had one.