My First Chipotle
We've had a Chipotle Grill in our area for a while now, and there was quite a bit of hype around it when it first opened. Now that the dust is settled, and since we had a gift card, we decided to check it out.
We weren't impressed. Compared to a couple of local Mexican fast food joints, as well as a Moe's Southwest Grill, this place doesn't even come close. For our money, the choices here are just too limited.
All of the referenced eateries offer "chips and queso" with guacamole as an optional extra. At Chipotle, no queso.
So I had to opt for "chips and guacamole." While the guacamole was pretty good, that's more than I can say for the chips. First of all, they are very bland, as they have absolutely no seasoning on them, not even salt. Secondly they tasted old, almost stale.
Meat choices. I prefer seasoned ground beef in both my tacos and my burritos. At Chipotle, no ground beef.
Both Mrs. Boilermate and I opted for a salad. Chopped romaine lettuce (but no iceberg), pinto or black beans, meat or guacamole, salsa, and cheese, with chipotle-honey vinaigrette. Cucumbers? No. Chopped tomatoes? No. Chopped onions? No. Black olives? No. Fresh or pickled jalapenos? No. Anything else to spice it up? No.
Yes, I know, one of their salsas is diced tomatoes and diced onions along with spices all mixed together. But that's not what I want on my salad. I want plain tomatoes, plain onions, etc.
All the news wasn't bad though. Except for the chips (as mentioned above) everything tasted fresh. Both the chicken and the dressing for the salad were especially tasty.
Overall, our experience was pretty meh. This meal was "on the house" courtesy of a gift card Mrs. Boilermate received from work, so I guess we can't complain too bad. Next time we will be spending our own money, so there is a good chance that will be spent somewhere else.
I've never really gotten all the hooplah over it either. If I was in a rush and it happened to be the nearest thing-- sure. Otherwise, I'd never make a special trip to it.
The limited menu concept is both why Chipotle works so well for their audience but why it's going to exclude wholesale people who don't fit within the niche. If you go beyond their burrito/bowl options (i.e. the lack of items like nachos or what you can have on their salads), it's unlikely the place will be what you want. I know lots of people who love Chipotle, but I've never heard someone craving their chips or salads.
It reminds me a bit of the Cincinnati chili parlor - if you go to those places no liking Cincinnati chili, it's hard to imagine loving the dining experience.
My coworkers and I go there sometimes for lunch. It is good on a day where I didn't bring anything to eat but is it something that I would go out of my way to have for dinner? No.
I also meant to add: No queso means no Nachos, DW's favorite item. Even Taco Bell has a cheese like substance to go with their chips, and you can get what passes for Nachos at TB, but not at Chipotle.
See I love Chipotle, but I never order things like chips and queso even at places that have them.
But, if you think about it, a limited menu means bigger profits. Less food costs, less training to teach everyone how to cook 50 different things, etc.