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Chipotle

In a word: Not too bad - for a slicked-up McDonald's venture.

The specs: #0142
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; official[ly annoying] web site (Flash, sound); reviews at Yelp, Isthmus, The Culinary Adventures of Jahboh and Tossy, He Said She Said, Burrito Blog's Chipotle category (now that's dedication); Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Latest Chipotle news and reviews

JM ate the steak fajita/tomato salsa/cheese burrito, nachos with green salsa, and a lemonade.
John ate the chicken fajita/mild salsa/cheese/sour cream burrito with a fountain drink.
Nichole ate the carnitas/black beans/corn salsa/cheese burrito with a fountain drink.
The bill was $21, or $7/person.
JM, John and Nichole all gave Chipotle a B+ (see our grading rubric).

We've met some people who say that Chipotle is their favorite restaurant.  This strikes JM as an issue that comes up (in a different way) on Board Game Geek.  Some games get played a lot because they're short and easy to play quickly over and over, whereas some games are really good yet take a long to play and they don't hit the table as often.  Chipotle falls into the former, while Deininger's, for example, falls into the latter.  In other words, just because you go to a restaurant a lot does not make it your favorite and Chipotle should be nobody's favorite. 

On the plus side, Chipotle's food is served fast, is cheap, and they've got Coke. Yet somehow, despite the >640 combinations and permutations of form and filling, the entree choices strike John and JM as rather limited. And while Nichole, who lacks the boys' aversion to troublesome ingredients like beans and sour cream, has more choices, she can't see herself returning to Chipotle very often. The size of the burritos is actually pretty frightening in a strangely visceral, possibly Freudian (but let's stop there) way.

Comments

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"...just because you go to a restaurant a lot does not make it your favorite and Chipotle should be nobody's favorite."

So true.

As an avid eater, let me add this to the Chipotle conversation:

Saying that any restaurant is your total number one favorite restaurant is, for most people, dangerously narrow-minded. I look at restaurant criticism the same way that the judges view dogs at Westminster. Judge each one against the standard for that style of restaurant.

Chipotle beats the ever-loving snot out of Qdoba, which has in my experience tasted like a burrito made with the same recipe as a Chipotle burrito, except with crappy ingredients and left out in a smoke-filled bar for an hour or two.

I have yet to visit La Bamba, due to their less-than-glittering history (think small and wriggly) at the Appleton location (my hometown).

Chipotle's only competition that I have found is Pasquale's. Pasquale's is more faithful to the Mex than the Tex, but still maintains the igottahaveaburritoinliketenseconds quality that Chipotle champions.

Chipotle also deserves credit for the quality of meat it uses. Niman Ranch provides their carnitas, and (I believe) their chicken. The attachment of the Scarlet Arches to Chipotle's breast is an easy criticism. Every restaurant has to have a financial backer. Just because theirs is McDonald's doesn't mean that their chicken burritos are made out of McNuggets.

Chipotle: B+, but a stronger B+ than your breakdown makes it out to be.

You're right about the meat. It's admirable that they do the "food integrity" thing. Wish that kind of thinking was more common.

"Judge each one against the standard for that style of restaurant." - Well said! We try to weigh a place's aspirations against what they deliver.

In the end those grades are just shorthand for our very non-scientific estimate about whether we'll go back. Plus, were the foodie blogosphere Westminster, we mongrels wouldn't make the first cut. So, salt all 'round.

One burrito from Chipotle, which by the way is pretty small, clocks in at over 1200 calories according to their web site. If only they tasted 1200 calories good.

I can't say I've ever heard anyone call a Chipotle burrito "small"...

I agree that Chipotle probably shouldn't be anyone's favorite restaurant, but I can see people who might consider it their favorite place to eat (if that makes any sense). The ingredients are fresh, the food comes fast, and it's always consistent. Their menu may not be huge, but what they do they do very well.

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