How do you Chipotle?

I have a love hate relationship with the burritos at Chipotle.  It works like this.  I love burritos.  I hate Chipotle.  It’s been a full year since I stepped foot in a Chipotle, and it was a year ago this week that I vowed not to return for complete year.  I’m addicted to burritos, and I knew that unless I forced myself into some kind of challenge, I would end up giving in to my burrito craving, and going back to Chipotle- knowing full well that it just sucks.  Or I should say, it always disappoints.

Here’s part of the problem.  I spent the two years before moving to New York, living in Los Angeles.  No shortage of good burritos in that city.  Every little tiny hole in the wall on every corner made an amazing burrito.  And so cheap too.  None of this $1.75 to add guacamole to your burrito buuuuullshit.  It’s a crime against humanity. 

Before that I lived in Boston, where you could depend on places like Boca Grande or Anna’s Taqueria…almost as good as the greatest burrito I’ve ever had (which was at Garcia’s, a little bit south of San Francisco, btw).  What have I done to deserve being stuck in the most Burrito challenged city in the country???  We have figured out how to serve Jerk Chicken from a sidewalk, Pizza from a truck and Korean food from everywhere… and yet making a good, cheap burrito seems to elude this city.

It’s not that Chipotle is a chain either.  I often revelled in the joy of a Baja Chicken Burrito from Baja Fresh, easily my goto lunch while working in L.A.  That burrito, which was the same price as the cheapest burrito at Chipotle (i.e. the one with no meat), came with guac already in it.  And they had a free salsa bar.  But you know what?  This isn’t about Baja Fresh.  This is about Chipotle.  I have my theory on burritos, and why Chipotle’s aren’t that good- but I’m going to give it one more chance.  Obviously there are alot of you who love Chipotle.  The lines, especially at the one at the bottom of my building (49th btw. 6+7th), border on ridiculous.  So here’s your chance to convince me.

I’m going to eat at Chipotle for the first time in a year, and I want to know what to get.  I love carnitas, but the first two times I ate there, I got carnitas and I didn’t like my burrito.  I thought, “Maybe carnitas isn’t their thing” and switched it up to chicken the next time.  Still no good.  What’s your secret?  Is the Fajita burrito the way to go?  Which kind of beans do you get?  Which salsa?  Do you have to suck it up, and pay for the $1.75 guacamole for the burrito to be good?  Cheese?  Sour cream?  What’s the magical combo that causes a person to be willing to wait in line for 30 minutes, just for the privilege of buying an overpriced burrito that couldn’t hold a candle to anything you’d get in California.

Let’s hear it.  Post your recommendation as a comment below.  You have to understand, I desperately want (and need) Chipotle to be good.  It’s like a drug addict wishing that methodone made him feel the same way as heroin.  Please help me.  I need to figure out a way to shoot up Chipotle, and make it feel like I’m eating a burrito that doesn’t taste like crap.  If not, I may end up in some gutter mumbling about “Carnitas Super Burritos”, and $1.75 guacamole.


  • You must use the “chipotle” tabasco. You must.

    (and it’s usually pretty easy to pocket a bottle to use at work when needed!)

  • Chicken or barbacoa — their spicy shredded beef — are Chipotle’s only animal flesh with flavor. The green tomatillo salsa is good. And I’d avoid the cheez because, unlike Baja Fresh, Chipotle doesn’t melt it, so you get a huge mound of cold shredded cheez inside your burrito. Biting into that can ruin your afternoon. It’ll never be Baja Fresh.

  • Here is my own lineup:

    Tortilla (I request extra griddle time)
    Carnitas (Niman Ranch Pork)
    Pinto Beans
    Mild or Tomatillo Salsa
    VERY LITTLE Cheese

  • When it comes to chipotle meat, i usually try to step forward in line enough to get a peek at what the meat looks like. Probably at lunch time they’re constantly reloading it with freshly cooked meat, but sometimes you can tell by the look of them that some are better than others that day

  • Here is the best Chipotle burrito experience I can think of.

    Walk in. Scream, “I AM NOT YOUR BITCH!”

    Walk out. Wait for the Calexico cart.

  • mm… i’m a carnitas bowl (bol ) fan with chips on the side. Carnitas, black beans, just a little rice, cheese, sour cream , lettuce and here’s the important bit… a -big- scoop of the mild salsa and a regular scoop of the hot salsa. Bag of chips, throw away half the chips. Couple of dashes of tabasco chipotle, and you’re all set.

  • Chicken or barbacoa, get whatever you want but its important to have corn salsa, its the savior of the Chipotle/Qdoba burrito.

    Also why not get tacos?

  • I think Chipotle is a good stand-by. It’s funny people get so angry about it when all it is is a burrito chain that happens to have higher quality ingredients than a slop hut like Taco Bell. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen people get morally indignant and yell “TACO BELL YOU ARE AN INAUTHENTIC MEXICAN PLACE – DAMN THEE!” The price thing, feh. If it’s too expensive, don’t go there.

    I go to Chipoltle about three times a year if that, if I want something quick before I trudge home on the subway. I like the burrito bowl just fine if I want a lot of food. Or if I want something lighter, the soft tacos are one of the few not-overstuffed things they served.

    It’s too bad the Calexico cart in midtown will only serve burritos. I love their quesadillas! It comes with this funky orange sauce.

  • First, I went to that Bread Market Cafe? Burritos that place with plaintains. Was sick after I never get sick anywhere. So Chipotle it is.

    I like Vegetarian or Chicken with black beans, extra rice, mild salsa, cheese and sour cream. No LETTUCE.

    And it is worth waiting in line and no matter what time you go 12 or 1 or 2 sometimes it is always a long line. I timed it. I can run thru line in like 15-20 mins or so. They’re faster then they were.

  • Zach, you already know the secret to chipotle. As long as you don’t approach it as a burrito, it’s not the worst eating in the world. The ingredients taste reasonably fresh; they’re not hyperactively processed like many fast food chains; and how can you go wrong with meat wrapped up in bread featuring spicyness?

    Just remember: It’s not a burrito. It’s a chipotle burrito.

    After that, you don’t need to be convinced. You won’t eat there all the time, but you won’t feel guilty if you swing by (or let your coworker pick one up) some time.

  • I agree, it’s a smidgeon better than Taco Bell. And I have yelled at Taco Bell, but then the rats overpowered me.

  • Woah, woah, how did the Chipotle hate turn into Taco
    Bell hate? Taco Bell is clearly the superior entity and should not be compared to Crapotle.

  • I agree, Taco Bell is like mana from heaven. Anyone criticizing it should be summarily executed. Seriously.

  • I miss Baja Fresh. Fish taco Fridays. There used to be on the ground floor at my last job in Foster City prior to moving to NYC

  • An easy argument to prove taco bell’s superiority: rats are gourmands (See, ratatouille), and they chose taco bell out of all the restaurants in the city to eat at (you think just because it’s got a fancy french name the rats can’t get in?). QED.

  • oh– Ana’s Taqueria. I lived in Boston and still dream about those darn burritos. FYI.. the Brookline one has expanded…

    As for chipotle, do not pay for the guacamole. They give you such a small amount for the $1.75 that it is criminal. I have to agree with DDR, the barbacoa is ok. It actually has a bit of flavor. I also always get black beans, corn salsa and the fresh salsa.

    It’s not going to be a great burrito, but it isn’t terrible. It’s a large amount of food that is relatively fresh.

  • I know I commented on this last week. I also lived on the West Coast and absolutely despise Chipotle. Give me Wahoo’s, Baja Fresh (when are they opening in the City?), Rubios or some cheap hole in the wall with amazing Mexican food! I heard El Pollo Loco is on it’s way east…

  • Ok I didn’t read any other comments but I kind of hate Chipotle too. I have heard from people it is all the cilantro they excessively use in EVERYTHING. I like cilantro but I’m a recent convert to its fan club; if you hate cilantro, you’re just never going to like Chipotle.

  • *sigh* As a former Bostonian, I really feel your pain about Anna’s. Oh, why can I not get a 1 lb super burrito with rice, beans, to-die-for guac, carnitas, sour cream, real melted cheese, homemade salsa, and a drink for 5.00 like at Anna’s? Oh wait. This is New York.

  • Why don’t you just go to Burritoville? I’ll admit its not Anna’s (yum!) or deliscioso Cali burrito, but its better than Chipotle. At least the guac’s better.

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