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"In many ways, the Chipotle burrito is very similar to the iPhone."
February 11, 2012 3:32 PM   Subscribe

Chipotle is Apple. "The burrito chain is revolutionizing food. Why doesn't it get more respect?"
posted by box (226 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Because in my neck of the woods, it can't be Anna's.

And because it's bland, tasteless, and really no different than any other fast food chain.
posted by zizzle at 3:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [25 favorites]


The beans are too bland, need more cumin among other things, and the carnitas is a joke but the barbacoa is okay. But if you aren't comparing it to nationwide restaurant chains where you get your meal in a few minutes, it wins just about every time.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:39 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sigh, proof fail day for me, I meant *are comparing*
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:40 PM on February 11, 2012


He's talking about business respect, not culinary respect, btw.
posted by empath at 3:41 PM on February 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is like asking why McDonald's (Chipotle's owners, IIRC) doesn't get more respect. Sure, it's good at what it does from a business perspective, and certain people are really into it. But compared to the real thing, it's pretty lackluster.
posted by JauntyFedora at 3:42 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chipotle isn't Apple until my burrito is a widescreen iPod with touchscreen controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device.
posted by BrandonW at 3:43 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is like asking why McDonald's (Chipotle's owners, IIRC) doesn't get more respect.

McDonalds completely divested from Chipotle in 2006, though they did control a majority interest in Chipotle from 1998 to 2006.
posted by BrandonW at 3:46 PM on February 11, 2012 [14 favorites]


Slate is Linkbaiting.
posted by gompa at 3:48 PM on February 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


I had a Chipotle burrito for lunch just today, and I love them, but this is the Slatiest sentence that Slate has ever Slated:

In many ways, the Chipotle burrito is very similar to the iPhone.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [56 favorites]


Blood in my underwear.
posted by veryape at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Iphones dont give you the trots
posted by nathancaswell at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just want to know why the outside of every Chipotle smells so bad but in the same way.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:49 PM on February 11, 2012


Chipotle are the Sam Adams of fast-food restaurants.
posted by gauche at 3:50 PM on February 11, 2012 [42 favorites]


And yet it’s impossible for me to look at a Chipotle during a busy time and not see a modern version of an assembly line. Each worker is responsible for one or two steps and then hands the package off to the next. The production inputs—rice, beans, meat, salsas—are assembled backstage and delivered at the command of the line workers.

Has the writer never been to an elementary school cafeteria or, heaven forfend, a Subway?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


I find Chipotle to be disgusting. Possibly because they put cilantro in everything and I am one of those people for whom it tastes like soap.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, when did Matt Yglesias decide he wanted David Brooks' job, anyway?
posted by gauche at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chipotle gets plenty of business respect, at least how it matters. With a 55P/E ratio to Apple's 14, I'd argue it gets more respect.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:51 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Don't you mean that they are the LBJ of fast-food restaurants?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:52 PM on February 11, 2012


Has the writer never been to an elementary school cafeteria or, heaven forfend, a Subway?

I've never had more than one worker touch my foot-long at a time in Subway.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:53 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Blood in my underwear.

told you not to eat that iPhone
posted by mannequito at 3:54 PM on February 11, 2012 [22 favorites]


I have respect for the efficiency of fast food franchises. I just don't see the need for them. Particularly when it comes to taqueria food. Cities with Mexican and Central American populations already have lots of great, quick, low cost taqueria options. Is an efficient chain of mediocre bland food going to displace them? I guess it happened with the hamburger industry, so maybe. It makes me sad though. Even the photo in the article isn't a proper burrito.

I guess Chipotle is an improvement over Taco Bell; the food is at least edible. How does Qdoba stack up?

(BrotherCaine; having two workers on your foot long costs extra.)
posted by Nelson at 3:55 PM on February 11, 2012


Chipotle is a stupid name for a restaurant chain. It's like calling McDonald's "Potato."
posted by Sys Rq at 3:57 PM on February 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


It's been -- let's see -- five years since I ate at subway, but I definitely remember there being a two-or-three-employee assembly line: one cut the bread and added the "protein" bits (the meat and cheeses), and toasted the sandwich if necessary, then handed it over to the next one who put on the salad bits and the dressing. Sometimes a third would do the dressing, and wrap the sandwich.
posted by gauche at 3:58 PM on February 11, 2012


I don't eat a lot of fast food burritos, thanks to some good locally-owned alternatives, but when I do I prefer Qdoba or even Moe's over Chipotle, because I think they both offer better value and spicier food.
posted by gimli at 3:59 PM on February 11, 2012


I will defer to those with more Subway experience.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:00 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


A Chipotle Burrito Is Not an iPhone

I've never had more than one worker touch my foot-long at a time in Subway.

I typically have 3 artists handle my foot-long. One to get/cut the bread and put the meat in their easy-bake oven (cheese is for suckers), one to put the salad on while I anxiously hope they haven't handled any of the tomato with those gloves and usually to wrap the sandwich, and finally one to wrap it if it isn't already, hand it to me, and demand payment.
posted by dumbland at 4:03 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Would be true, if iPhones were completely disgusting," writes Mat Honan.
posted by incandenza at 4:03 PM on February 11, 2012


Chipotle are the Sam Adams of fast-food restaurants.

So Chipolte has a recipe they contract out to actual restaurants and put their own name on to make the consumer think it's "theirs"?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:04 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has crispy noodles in it?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:04 PM on February 11, 2012


Possibly because they put cilantro in everything and I am one of those people for whom it tastes like soap.

Coriander does indeed objectively taste like soap. Cheap, terrible soap.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So it's true, then.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:05 PM on February 11, 2012


Chipotle is ok for fast food, but the amount of sodium in all their food is fucking off the charts.
posted by kmz at 4:07 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sure that underperforming workers at the Foxconn plant in China are not taken into a back room and rendered down into barbacoa.

...

I'm PRETTY sure.
posted by delfin at 4:08 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I more meant Chipotle : McDonalds (or whatever) :: Sam Adams : Budweiser (or whatever)

You can certainly get a much better [meal / beer] from someplace else, if you know what you're looking for, but it's shoulders, if not head-and-shoulders, better than the [fast-food / beer] the big guys are offering, and you can find it without too much looking in most of the places I've lived, anyway.
posted by gauche at 4:09 PM on February 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Chipotle isn't Apple until my burrito is a widescreen iPod with touchscreen controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device.
You're being a bit literalist here.
Yeah, when did Matt Yglesias decide he wanted David Brooks' job, anyway?


I didn't even notice it was Yglesias until you mentioned it. He did chose to move to slate so what can you expect? Maybe he's like the pundit version of the black eyed peas. Good back in the day, full of idealism, now selling out as hard as he can.
Chipotle gets plenty of business respect, at least how it matters. With a 55P/E ratio to Apple's 14, I'd argue it gets more respect.
Huh, what accounts for that? I mean if Apple had that P/E it would be worth $1.8 trillion.
So Chipolte has a recipe they contract out to actual restaurants and put their own name on to make the consumer think it's "theirs"?
That's actually how most fast food restaurants work in the U.S. McD's, Burger King, Wendey's are all franchise things
posted by delmoi at 4:11 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've had Chipotle burritos and they tasted like fast food burritos, not sure what the big deal is.
posted by octothorpe at 4:12 PM on February 11, 2012


The first time I held an iPhone in my hand it was like the Future had just dropped by and said: "Hey, have this. It's not a jetpack, but it's the next best thing." The first time I held a Chipotle burrito in my hand, I held a burrito in my hand.
posted by Kattullus at 4:14 PM on February 11, 2012 [45 favorites]


What? I've eaten at Chipoltle and liked it but basically they're a "Mexican" version of Subway.
posted by jonmc at 4:15 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The sous-vide stuff was interesting, but I can't imagine going to Chipotle if I knew where to get real burritos of that style in town. Chipotle's not terrible. There's just no reason to ever eat it if you have a local burrito joint that's any good.
posted by immlass at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just don't see the need for them. Particularly when it comes to taqueria food. Cities with Mexican and Central American populations already have lots of great, quick, low cost taqueria options.

Right, but there that many parts of the country do NOT in fact have large Mexican and Central American populations with lots of great taquerias. For example, I come from a part of the country where "Mexican food" is typically cheddar cheese* and mild (jar) salsa on a wrap. Maybe with canned refried beans.** The folks at home would probably really like a Chipotle***.

* Damned good cheddar cheese, mind you.
** I have heard rumors that exceptions exist, but they have been unreliable at best.
*** They'd also like a Target and a Trader Joe's, while you're at it.

posted by maryr at 4:21 PM on February 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


As far as "burritos as big as your face" places go, nothing beats the employee-owned hippie-run Fighting Burrito (formerly Flying Burrito) in Ames, IA.
posted by King Bee at 4:22 PM on February 11, 2012


Huh. Interest interpretation of "Fight or Flight" there.
posted by maryr at 4:24 PM on February 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Perhaps it's just me, but there never seems to be enough variety at Chipotle. Yeah, the burritos are decent, albeit huge and soporific, but how about a special that changes every month or two? Maybe something with a strong flavor, like mole?
posted by Bromius at 4:25 PM on February 11, 2012


I love Chipotle, it is too bad that Slate is not the Chipotle of anything.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:25 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also am I the only one who finds the texture of the heated tortilla around their burrito to be eerily like human skin?
posted by Bromius at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


What? I've eaten at Chipoltle and liked it but basically they're a "Mexican" version of Subway.

Being any version of Subway sounds like a great way to make money, which I think is the vague point obscured by the idiotic Apple analogy it's wrapped inside like some sort of enticing but disgusting flat-bread. "Modern successful fast food chain quite like other modern successful fast food chains" just isn't wanky enough for Slate.

Slate Sandwiches: where the "special sauce" sure ain't mayonnaise.
posted by howfar at 4:26 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


maryr: There was apparently a cease and desist letter from some place in Madison, WI, who claimed a trademark on the name. They had to switch. Luckily, all their gear had WWI fighter planes all over it, so it was both fight and flight from the get-go.
posted by King Bee at 4:27 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dislike Chipotle because it's impossible to get a sensible single serving meal there and burritos do not refrigerate well. Also, they look like poorly healed amputation scars, which I seldom eat.

Now, give me a nice hole-in-the-wall joint where there's more green tomatillo than blecchy pink tomatoes, and where you can get a nice taco or two, and I'm happy. I still rue the day my brother moved away from Chicago, because I loved that little place at Chicago & Ashland. Fortunately, I live in a Salvadoran-heavy region, so cheap pupusas with great slaw abound.
posted by sonascope at 4:29 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


As far as "burritos as big as your face" places go, nothing beats the employee-owned hippie-run Fighting Burrito (formerly Flying Burrito) in Ames, IA.

I'll see your Fighting Burrito, and I'll raise you Ann Arbor's own BTB Burrito (formerly Big Ten Burrito prior to getting a nastygram from the Big Ten Conference.)
posted by gauche at 4:30 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stop serving "food" that hits the RDA of sodium in half of a burrito, then we'll talk.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 4:32 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chipotle are the Sam Adams of fast-food restaurants.

So Chipolte has a recipe they contract out to actual restaurants and put their own name on to make the consumer think it's "theirs"?

This is such crap. I'm not a huge fan of Sam Adams lager or ale, but they've been huge supporters of home brewers and they produce some pretty great beer, like their single batch collection, utopias, the imperial series, the brewmaster series...

Who the hell cares where they brew their beer as long as it's made with the same quality ingredients? Are big kettles inherently inferior to small? It's miles above any mass-produced beer, even if it's brewed in the same factory...

They're the biggest domestic brewery, they must be awful... wait, second-biggest, now.
posted by Huck500 at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


if your tortillas are not made on premises, or a couple blocks away, it's not real Mexican.
posted by atomicmedia at 4:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


the employee-owned hippie-run Fighting Burrito (formerly Flying Burrito)

BTB Burrito (formerly Big Ten Burrito prior to getting a nastygram from the Big Ten Conference.)


So, this is a thing? Spokane has the Ionic Burritos place near Gonzaga campus. Used to be Sonic Burritos until Sonic Drive-In came to town and forced them to change their name (despite having been in business for over a decade).

I've never eaten there, but I root for them as I do most underdogs.
posted by hippybear at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2012


I like Chipotle just fine, though I find that they're indistinguishable from Q'Doba. Neither of them are El Pelon though. Mmmm... fish burrito.
posted by bondcliff at 4:36 PM on February 11, 2012


Apples are the Apple of the fast food industry. Man, you just hold one of those things in your hand and you can tell from the way it feels - the weight, the curves, the shiny casing - that it's the product of a thoughtful, high quality construction process. They're just so easy to use, it's like they were designed from day one with the user in mind. I gave a 3-year old a piece of an apple once, and she just picked it up and started eating it. It was like the interface wasn't even there, she just naturally knew how to interact with it. So intuitive.
posted by rh at 4:38 PM on February 11, 2012 [74 favorites]


As a university employee, my burrito choices are limited to (a) Chipotle, and (b) limp, refrigerated burritos from the student union food co-op, where the rice is chewy, the beans al dente, and the salsa came out of a jar. And yes, we have many people from Latin America living around here. As eager as I am to agree with the thesis that Chipotle food is unremarkable and much better can be had, I come back to them again and again.
posted by Nomyte at 4:39 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, this is a thing?

It would appear so! College towns and their huge burrito joints. Rather, the joints are small, the burritos are huge...eh.

Regardless, they seem to pick a name for their place that seriously upsets someone with a lot more money.
posted by King Bee at 4:42 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


if your tortillas are not made on premises, or a couple blocks away, it's not real Mexican.

Burritos pretty much aren't real Mexican, wherever the tortillas are made.
posted by LionIndex at 4:44 PM on February 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Also am I the only one who finds the texture of the heated tortilla around their burrito to be eerily like human skin?

So, um, how exactly do you know this (he said, backing slowly away)?
posted by yoink at 4:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I will say the Chipotle near my office has about the highest throughput of any restaurant I've ever been to. They'll have 100 Bellevue High students and downtown workers in line ahead of you and you'll still be at the cashier paying 10 minutes later.

Also, I'm sorry, but it's better than Subway's horribly bland sandwiches. It may not be an authentic Mexican torta truck served up by an undocumented abuela, but given we probably have fewer Latinos in Seattle than almost any American city, it's not like Chipotle is crushing anyone. And it's edible, more than you can say about Jimmy John's.
posted by dw at 4:51 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yelp has revolutionized travel across Texas and the Southwest for me. Just search for "taqueria", go to top result close to current location, enjoy. Sometimes I get a treat like a $2 BBQ brisket burrito.

I can deal with McD's, because its product is far enough removed from a hamburger that it's a unique thing -- not a burger, but a greasy meat doughnut.

Chipotle, I just don't see the point of eating a food item that's over 1,000 calories and has only 7 g of fat.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:52 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


As I bit into the nectarine...
posted by maryr at 4:53 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because the binder is not foolproof from outlet to outlet. Have you ever had a Chipotle burrito with hard, undercooked pinto beans? I have. Even habituated bean-eaters will fart themselves half to death. The success of the food in your fast food restaurant cannot depend on the workers themselves knowing how to cook it, because you can't count on having those workers available in every market. That's what the binder is there for - to make the food foolproof. At Chipotle, it isn't - at least, not yet.
posted by toodleydoodley at 4:54 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bromius: "Also am I the only one who finds the texture of the heated tortilla around their burrito to be eerily like human skin?"

What's your point?
posted by Splunge at 4:55 PM on February 11, 2012


I dislike Chipotle because it's impossible to get a sensible single serving meal there and burritos do not refrigerate well.

My wife orders 2 tacos. Not 3, but 2, and they charge her less. I know what the menu says, but I think they have other options if you ask. My mom gets some kind of kid menu quesadilla thing.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:56 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm reading this thread while waiting for a delivery from a local place called Yummy Taco. All of their protein is grilled over a coal fire. The tacos are made fresh from masa on one of those press thingies. I've never had a bad meal from there.

Damn I'm hungry.
posted by Splunge at 5:00 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think Chipotle tastes OK if you're not in LA or Phoenix or somewhere with proper Mexican available, but my god it's a fucking commitment. You will enter a food coma after eating one of their ginourmous burritos, so it's not a lunch option for me. Maybe dinner, if I'm resigned to watching G4 in my underwear for the rest of the night.

Damn, just make those things smaller and lower the price some.
posted by bardic at 5:00 PM on February 11, 2012


Also am I the only one who finds the texture of the heated tortilla around their burrito to be eerily like human skin?

And the texture of an iPhone is eerily like that of a wind-polished, bleached human skull?

Perhaps we could assemble an entire revenant/golem out of soulless consumer products.

posted by hattifattener at 5:00 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Chipotle food is acceptable. Not great, not very good, but acceptable. It serves the purpose if it's all you have. But if you are in a town that has mom-and-pop alternatives... why go there?

Chipotle is the Coby of Mexican food.
posted by delfin at 5:02 PM on February 11, 2012


My wife orders 2 tacos.

Is another Subway euphemism? I'm confused.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2012


Burritos pretty much aren't real Mexican, wherever the tortillas are made.

Aren't burritos pretty much San Franciscan?
posted by madcaptenor at 5:04 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chipotle is the PF Chang/Starbucks of Mexican food -- a reasonably well-executed chain that can only destroy one of the few bastions of individuality left in the restaurant business.

But they do have margaritas.
posted by msalt at 5:05 PM on February 11, 2012


Perhaps we could assemble an entire revenant/golem out of soulless consumer products.

Scrawling a dollar sign on its forehead would make it come to life and protect the beleaguered CEOs of Prague.

What's your point?

It's creepy.
posted by Bromius at 5:06 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Burritos pretty much aren't real Mexican, wherever the tortillas are made.

Came here to say this. A friend's dad is Mexican (de Jalisco, güey) and he opened restaurant with real authentic Mexican food. He was pretty much forced to start selling burritos because the gringos wanted them. His burritos are fucking delicious but he's not using his abuela's recipe because she didn't have one. His tamales use his abuela's recipe and they're the puta madre.

As a gringolandense, I appreciate a burrito as the change of pace from the street taco. In a pinch Chipotle can work. Especially in places where people think Taco Bell is Mexican food. But when you live in a place with real Mexican (or Tex-Mex or Cal-Mex or whatnot) there's no point. The California burrito (a standard carne asada burrito but with french fries and guac or avocado inside on request) is a treat. Due to the size and caloric load, it is something you get once or twice a year. There is nothing -ito in a California burrito.
posted by birdherder at 5:11 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Due to the size and caloric load, it is something you I geot once or twice a year week when I was working in San Diego for 3 months.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:15 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


It may not be an authentic Mexican torta truck served up by an undocumented abuela, but given we probably have fewer Latinos in Seattle than almost any American city, it's not like Chipotle is crushing anyone. And it's edible, more than you can say about Jimmy John's.

It's not southern California or anything, but Seattle does have a sizable and established latino community and plenty of good authentic mexican food.

I'm curious to see how Chipotle fares against longtime local institutuons like Taco Time and Taco Del Mar. Both of which are right in their wheelhouse but way better.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:16 PM on February 11, 2012


Well, La Jolla really.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2012


I'm curious to see how Chipotle fares against longtime local institutuons like Taco Time and Taco Del Mar.

Dammit. Now I want a crisp bean burrito and mexi-fries. I'll be on the next plane up to Seattle.
posted by spitefulcrow at 5:19 PM on February 11, 2012


Scrawling a dollar sign on its forehead would make it come to life and protect the beleaguered CEOs of Prague.

To bring this absurdly full circle, I once had a burrito in a town an hour from Prague.

It was hilarious.
posted by gurple at 5:20 PM on February 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


>>Burritos pretty much aren't real Mexican, wherever the tortillas are made.

>Came here to say this. A friend's dad is Mexican (de Jalisco, güey)


If he drove about two states north of Jalisco, he'd find totally authentic Mexican burritos. Which, of course, have very little to do with the "as big as your head!" style burritos that you find in SF and around college campuses.
posted by Forktine at 5:21 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chipotle tastes like window cleaner and fuck. I'll never understand the appeal, though, I live in an area of Southern California where I have various traditional Mexican food restaurants available to me that are both cheaper in cost and far superior in flavor. I guess if you don't know any better...
posted by Redfield at 5:22 PM on February 11, 2012


Chipotle is a stupid name for a restaurant chain. It's like calling McDonald's "Potato."

Oh my gods. Oh my gods yes.

This is the best restaurant idea.

You would serve basic things:

* baked potato
* french fries
* tater tots
* hash browns
* potato-based soups

Comes with various fixings, such as:

* onion
* cheese
* chili

Your food costs nothing, people will eat it up to death, you will make billions of dollars.
posted by curious nu at 5:23 PM on February 11, 2012 [18 favorites]


I think Chipotle tastes OK if you're not in LA or Phoenix or somewhere with proper Mexican available

I have not been to a major city in this country where there wasn't proper authentic mexican to be found.
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:23 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everything tastes the same at chipotle, in an unpleasant way.
posted by yarly at 5:25 PM on February 11, 2012


I think its funny counting the people who act like if they have any higher opinion of Chipotle than "MEH it's okay, but not better than Casa Del Whatever in the fucking Mission District" or what have you, they are at risk of losing their precious precious cool points because they don't want to admit that an evil bland yuppie once-McDonalds-affiliated non-authentic chainy chain-chain restaurant can produce really decent freaking food for their price.

Also, please refer to this Metafilter comment from someone who used to work there. They walk their talk, and for people who don't have a decent latino food scene in their city Chipotle is a damned godsend. Frankly, I have pretty nice authentic options in my city and I think their burritos are better than- not more authentic, but still better- than the "authentic" joints. That's just me though.
posted by windbox at 5:25 PM on February 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


While we're at it, would anybody like to spill the beans on why there does not exist a Chipotle located more than one city block away from a Qdoba? Is this some sort of arcane, Illuminati-driven conspiracy that I'd best stop asking questions about online?
posted by GIFtheory at 5:25 PM on February 11, 2012


On a related note, I am a little fuzzy on how a Chipotle burrito differs significantly from a Qdoba burrito or a Moe's Southwest Grill burrito or a California Tortilla burrito, to name a few other prominent chains.

Other than, y'know, not tasting as good as a Moe's or CT burrito.
posted by delfin at 5:27 PM on February 11, 2012


at risk of losing their precious precious cool points

chillax brah lets grab some fish tacos at Casa Del Whatever and shred some waves
posted by nathancaswell at 5:28 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


longtime local institutuons like Taco Time and Taco Del Mar

I had no idea Taco Del Mar was a Seattle-grown chain. I also had no idea they'd gone bankrupt and were purchased by the parent company of Subway a short time ago.

This thread has been educational!
posted by hippybear at 5:29 PM on February 11, 2012


I can see one way in which Chipotle is like Apple, namely that there are limited options and the experience is heavily standardised. (Or is that two ways?) The latter is hardly new--for example (and there are dozens, not unique to fast food), when I was a kid, my family always stayed at the same chain hotels because my mother was convinced familiarity was a good thing for children or something.

Buying lunch at Chipotle presents more options than buying something from Apple, but there's very little decision-making involved. (I'm a vegetarian, so there's even less. Actually, being a vegetarian should make me like Chipotle more than I do. If I find myself needing lunch in some random shopping center in suburbia, Chipotle probably wins by a large margin.) Buying a Mac is pretty simple: you know how much money you have, if you have more money than me, you decide if you want a desktop or a laptop, and Apple tells you what computer you're buying.

I have no idea if that's worthy of business praise (I don't really think Apple gets praise for this model), but it's a comparison.

I have not been to a major city in this country where there wasn't proper authentic mexican to be found.

Sure, but not everyone lives in major cities. I sort of do, and if I have a burning desire for something vaguely in the ballpark of Mexican food while I'm on a campus, it's Chipotle or Qdoba for me. For whatever reason, we've got two decent Vietnamese options and a couple of Chinese restaurants of varying quality, but if you don't want Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean (again two options, not bad, but more expensive) food, you have very few options that aren't highly commercialised.
posted by hoyland at 5:30 PM on February 11, 2012


Some background on Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle, might be warranted here. He was a chef @ the gourmet restaurant Stars restaurant in San Francisco, and when he'd go home to his apt in Haight-Ashbury, he's get a massive burrito at one of the cheap burrito places in that part of town. He loved these big, cheap burritos, so crafted a few tasty versions he was happy with, borrowed some money from his family, and opened the first one in Denver near Denver University. It was a pretty instant sensation, and so he opened a 2nd one by the Colorado University - Denver Medical Center, and that one had a line out the door most of the time, so from that, he grew his little empire, and people ate it up.

As my mother used to say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", or as my dad would say, "Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks". I like Chipotle, and saw it grow from a little tiny thing into a massive thing, and I always smile when I see the picture of store #1 in any of the restaurants (it's in every single one, AFAIK).

Is it anything like Apple? No. Not in its model, its history, or in the respect it gets. Article missed an imaginary target.

posted by Lukenlogs at 5:33 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


How does one name their tech company Apple? It's like naming a Mexican food place Chipotle.
posted by Splunge at 5:36 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


if I have a burning desire for something vaguely in the ballpark of Mexican food while I'm on a campus, it's Chipotle or Qdoba for me. For whatever reason, we've got two decent Vietnamese options and a couple of Chinese restaurants of varying quality, but if you don't want Vietnamese, Chinese or Korean (again two options, not bad, but more expensive) food, you have very few options that aren't highly commercialised.

Not sure where campus is on this map, but I often find that the best mexican fast food is to be found on food trucks, and perhaps you didn't know there are two mexican food trucks listed on the Minneapolis Food Truck Map?
posted by hippybear at 5:36 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"The burrito chain is revolutionizing food."

"Chipotle: Food Will Never Be the Same!"

"Chipotle: Power to the Peppers!"

Wait, why were we coming up with ridiculous Chipotle slogans again?
posted by straight at 5:36 PM on February 11, 2012


Aren't burritos pretty much San Franciscan?

Chipotle-type burritos are, but as a general type, they're more from Chihuahua/Texas. Most other places in Mexico don't do flour tortillas.
posted by LionIndex at 5:40 PM on February 11, 2012


Burritos pretty much aren't real Mexican, wherever the tortillas are made.

Who eats burritos?

Actually, I did eat a burrito in Seattle once, it was supposed to be a great place, no idea of the name.

It was disgusting.
posted by atomicmedia at 5:43 PM on February 11, 2012


^ haha seriously?
posted by nathancaswell at 5:47 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Actually, not Chihuahua, but Sonora. There was an article written years ago by one of the founders of Burrito Bros. in DC about trying to find the origins of the burrito. This blog post refers to it, but the original article is apparently no longer publicly available.
posted by LionIndex at 5:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, I wish I had a cool burrito place in my town to brag about! I feel so Chipotlame!
posted by orme at 5:52 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, La Jolla really.

Interesting. I started going to Ortega's almost exclusively in LJ because I had a couple not-too good experiences at Don Carlos (nothing horrible, just underwhelming)
posted by LionIndex at 5:53 PM on February 11, 2012


I don't eat meat. Chipotle is my go-to restaurant for two pounds of indifferently-seasoned cold beans and vegetables in a paper bowl, topped off with a congealed lump of guacamole. When I want them. Which isn't often.
posted by killdevil at 6:13 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, Anna's is one of the things I really miss about Boston.
posted by killdevil at 6:14 PM on February 11, 2012


Not sure where campus is on this map, but I often find that the best mexican fast food is to be found on food trucks, and perhaps you didn't know there are two mexican food trucks listed on the Minneapolis Food Truck Map?

Yeah, going downtown for lunch isn't really practical (and if it were, I'd be eating Indian food for as long as I could afford it). I have to admit I don't 'get' Minneapolis food trucks. It sort of feels like someone decided food trucks were a novel new marketing concept and, all of a sudden, we have a load of them. The sudden appearance of food trucks actually has something to do with a rule change by the city that made them feasible, I believe, but it still feels really contrived. I wouldn't swear to it, but I would not be shocked if the best Mexican fast food in Minneapolis is not to be found on the food trucks. Though I suppose our actual Mexican places may not do much takeaway (and are nowhere near downtown).
posted by hoyland at 6:14 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had no idea Taco Del Mar was a Seattle-grown chain. I also had no idea they'd gone bankrupt and were purchased by the parent company of Subway a short time ago.

Is that what happened? Because I used to really like Taco del Mar when I lived in Seattle. Several fish options, pretty cheap, and tasty. So I was excited when I moved to Fairbanks and there was a Taco del Mar! But it sucks. It's a struggle to get a fish taco or burrito (hello? What's your name?) and the food is expensive and not very good. I figured we just had a bad franchise.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:14 PM on February 11, 2012


Burrito Blue?

I also see Chipotle on a lot of the responsible business lists, so props to that.

But I've also eaten at one of their smaller midwestern competitor chains, Panchero's, and I've never really looked back. The taste and texture is noticeably superior. I hope it catches up and surpasses Chipotle and Qdoba ... And Taco Bell can just disappear forever.
posted by dgaicun at 6:15 PM on February 11, 2012


While we're at it, would anybody like to spill the beans on why there does not exist a Chipotle located more than one city block away from a Qdoba? Is this some sort of arcane, Illuminati-driven conspiracy that I'd best stop asking questions about online?

Probably for the same reason you see Lowes near Home Depots. Burger Kings near McDonalds. Why spend all your money on site selection when your competitor already did.

There are a few Chipotles in San Diego but no Qdoba. Which is odd, since Qdoba is owned by Jack in the Box and Jack in the Box is based in San Diego. Then again, there's currently already about 1 mexican place per person in the county so there's really no need for any more.

Aren't burritos pretty much San Franciscan?

Chipotle-type burritos are, but as a general type, they're more from Chihuahua/Texas. Most other places in Mexico don't do flour tortillas.


Especially such big flour tortillas required for the big-as-your-head burritos. I don't think I've ever had a burrito in Mexico but the ones I remember seeing in places were a lot smaller.

Bigger places in the interior may offer flour tortillas (on request) for tacos. I've flour tortillas them referred to as "gringas" by a server. I will always get corn tortillas except for at breakfast (unless they're pressing fresh corn tortillas onsite).

The other thing you don't see a lot of when you get too far south of the border is chips and salsa. Most places will give you a variety of breads w/salsa. Sometimes you can ask for chips (totopos) but it might take a while because they'll cut up and fry a few tortillas and fry them until they're crisp. The definitely don't come out of a bag.
posted by birdherder at 6:15 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I had Chipotle once. It was bland and the rice seemed like just starchy filler (which it is, of course, but other places do it better). I'll stick with Moe's for fast-food Mexican, thanks.

And even Rochester, NY has authentic places for real Mexican now so that's always an alternative. And if we do...
posted by tommasz at 6:19 PM on February 11, 2012


The other thing you don't see a lot of when you get too far south of the border is chips and salsa

That's because tortilla chips are an American food.
posted by dgaicun at 6:19 PM on February 11, 2012


Grarararar something something Chipotle.

It's fucking delicious and they are bringing an imperfect but better-than-normal food production ethos to the masses. Get over it.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:28 PM on February 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


And even Rochester, NY has authentic places for real Mexican now so that's always an alternative. And if we do...

I would kill several people for John's Taco Hole (or whatever it's called) on South and Alexander to relocate to College Park, MD. And it's probably nowhere near the best that Rochester, NY can offer.
posted by Nomyte at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2012


Seattle = GORDITOS

that is all...
posted by Windopaene at 6:31 PM on February 11, 2012


Did you just call everyone in Seattle "little fatties"?

Because that is awesome.
posted by hippybear at 6:33 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I guess I did...lol
posted by Windopaene at 6:34 PM on February 11, 2012


I've always just thought of Chipotle's as being just a hell of a lot better option than Taco Bell for a couple dollars more.
posted by empath at 6:35 PM on February 11, 2012


When I lived in Costa Mesa, CA, we had a Taco Mesa within walking distance, which is in an old Taco Bell building, I believe, and they serve some killer authentic mexican food... burritos, too, because they have to, but they're good.

We moved about 30 miles to South Orange County, and despaired, but within a week they opened a Taco Mesa within walking distance of our house. They also opened a sit-down restaurant within a couple of miles of my work.

I've never eaten at a Chipotles, because I have an authentic mini-chain following me.
posted by Huck500 at 6:41 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


But the thing is dixiecupdrinking, Chipotle is not delicious. In the same way that In-n-Out Burger is not delicious. Chipotle is not as bad as, say, McDonald's (love the "greasy meat donut" description above); that'd be Taco Bell. But Chipotle suffers from being bland and boring.

What's so frustrating is that in almost the whole US you can get really good fast American/Mexican taqueria fast food. You may have to go to the wrong side of the tracks, you may have to smile a bit stupidly if you don't fully understand the menu, but anywhere in the US where people work with their hands for a living there are Mexican and Central American immigrants. And some of them are making delicious food. Tacos, burritos, pupusas. With spice, and lard, and flavor.

Arguing about "authentic Mexican" when discussing Mission-style burritos is pretty ridiculous. It's a syncretic food, the big-as-your-head version we enjoy so much in San Francisco is a grandly American invention. But it's generally cooked by recent immigrants to the US and it's made locally by a mom-and-pop place and if you go somewhere that knows the value of fresh tortillas and crisping the carnitas just so and getting fresh fatty avocados straight from Mexico you will win.

Also arguing about "best burrito" is pretty ridiculous. Burritos are fast food, they're a quick filling meal, they are simple and accessible. As long as the ingredients are fresh and properly proportioned it's going to be pretty good. I have my favourite places in San Francisco but honestly any of 40 taquerias here are just fine. But not Chipotle.
posted by Nelson at 6:41 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Chipotle is the burrito restaurant I go to when I'm not in Northwest Arkansas with access to the Flying Burrito (West Street, Fayetteville, location being the best of the local chain!). I find the rice is kind of bland, along with the cheese, but it gets the job done.
posted by Atreides at 6:43 PM on February 11, 2012


But the thing is dixiecupdrinking, Chipotle is not delicious. In the same way that In-n-Out Burger is not delicious. Chipotle is not as bad as, say, McDonald's (love the "greasy meat donut" description above); that'd be Taco Bell. But Chipotle suffers from being bland and boring.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man. I can tell you that thousands of NYC office workers disagree. The lines in any Midtown or Financial District Chipotle at lunchtime are unreal.

I really just think any attempt to claim Chipotle is objectively "bad" food stems from snobbery. The nutritional complaints, sadly, are undeniable.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:49 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really just think any attempt to claim Chipotle is objectively "bad" food stems from snobbery.

From what I gather from this thread, your taste buds are supposed to be aware that there is better food available in your very town at a local, authentic establishment, and at that point they recalibrate themselves to a setting which makes Chipotle taste like spooning raw AP flour into your mouth.
posted by ftm at 6:52 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


When I lived in Costa Mesa, CA, we had a Taco Mesa within walking distance, which is in an old Taco Bell building, I believe, and they serve some killer authentic mexican food... burritos, too, because they have to, but they're good.

It is a FACT that any Mexican place that takes over one of the old brick "mission style" Taco Bell buildings will have good food. I haven't been disappointed yet.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man. I can tell you that thousands of NYC office workers disagree. The lines in any Midtown or Financial District Chipotle at lunchtime are unreal.

Two things I know about Manhattanites is they love their Chipotle and the love their Dunkin Donuts coffee.
posted by birdherder at 6:56 PM on February 11, 2012


Well with the quality of discussion we've managed here I think we've proven the article's thesis... Chipotle is indeed the iPhone of burritos.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:03 PM on February 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


I have not been to a major city in this country where there wasn't proper authentic mexican to be found.


NYC is somewhat lacking in a certain kind of Mexican food that I love. Hence Chipotle.

The worst thing about NYC Mexican food is that everyone here has horrible fucking taste in Mexican food and will try to force you to go to their favorite Mexican place. You go, only to find out that it's horrible, and then they are in your face like HOW'D YOU LIKE THAT PLACE! THE VELVEETA IS A NICE TOUCH, NO?
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:06 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


tyr-r: how does Chavela's stack up with you? I like it but don't have the best frame of reference for "good" Mexican.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:17 PM on February 11, 2012


In the same way that In-n-Out Burger is not delicious.

The snobbery in this thread is suffocating.
posted by flaterik at 7:17 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


After reading kmz and Inspector.Gadget's comments about sodium, I tried to figure out how much salt I was ingesting. Pretty hard using the official Chipotle nutritional facts page, but I found this:

Chipotle Nutrition Facts Calculator

My typical burrito: Sodium 2420mg or 101% of RDA. Scary.
posted by letitrain at 7:22 PM on February 11, 2012


Apparently, when someone writes "Apple is Chipotle" on the internet, it's equivalent of saying, "Hey, look! A butterfly!"


And everyone falls for it.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:23 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You go, only to find out that it's horrible, and then they are in your face like HOW'D YOU LIKE THAT PLACE! THE VELVEETA IS A NICE TOUCH, NO?

Why do you hate Tex-Mex?
posted by asterix at 7:27 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because in my neck of the woods, it can't be Anna's.

Anna's is the one and only thing I miss about Boston. It would almost be worth the drive to get one.

I went to a Chipotle once and only once and there will not be a second time. I was 36 weeks pregnant at the time and had visited my local burrito establishment (Cilantro in PVD, RI - not quite Anna's, but a respectable burrito nonetheless) so often during the pregnancy that it was joked that my son was a good 65% burrito, if not more. So, my doula wanted to meet at a convenient location and there was a Chipotle halfway between our houses. I was so stoked! I could eat a burrito and talk about my fetus! WHAT MORE COULD A PREGNANT LADY WANT?! (No seriously, what. Maybe if someone had given me a foot massage...)

Anyhow. I couldn't finish the burrito. It was that bad. 36 weeks pregnant and there was a food product that I wouldn't finish. This is saying something and it's a profoundly negative thing.

I do believe that I went home and waddled down to Cilantro (three blocks! in the snow! This is like personally running the whole Iditarod single handedly for someone carrying 7lbs of nearly-fully-baked baby in her person) to get a real burrito.
posted by sonika at 7:27 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are various variables here. Such as:
*Are chains useful?
I kinda think so. Predictability can be handy. I am not vegetarian but totally respect that shit. Taco trucks are not an option for those whose stomach enzymes no longer can handle meat traces in their beans.
*Should ethically-sourced food be a niche market? Or a mass market?
Call me crazy, but I think the cognoscenti shouldn't keep the Good stuff all to themselves. Chipotle, at least in my neck of the woods, sources its pork from Polyface Farms.
*Are chains inherently tacky? *Are my taste buds sufficiently sophisticated?
I really don't care. But I've eaten Chipotle and liked it, and wished the portions were bigger (bowls, baby, bowls). And I would give y'all my Gourmand Credentials, but I'm too sleepy, and only here cos @BitterOldPunk sent me anyhow. Zzzz.
posted by feral_goldfish at 7:37 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think we can all agree that Panda Express it the _____ of ______.
posted by birdherder at 7:40 PM on February 11, 2012


It's not southern California or anything, but Seattle does have a sizable and established latino community and plenty of good authentic mexican food.

Where? Seriously, not snarking, I'd like to know. I've lived here for almost three years and the only decent Mexican food I've had came from La Carta de Oaxaca or a taco truck. Taco trucks are great and all, but it would be nice to find a place where I could sit down besides Carta.

I have to say, though, that I have had some really amazing Mexican food in the Yakima Valley, which apparently has a pretty sizable Mexican-American population.

But on the topic of Chipotle, I have always found it to be pretty foul. There's something about that lime-chipotle seasoning they put on everything that just makes my mouth go "ugh."
posted by lunasol at 7:42 PM on February 11, 2012


I understand that not everywhere has a burrito vocabulary or a Latin American population. I understand that quite well as a member of a family transplanted from TX to NJ in the 70s with nary a taco in sight, and when you did find one, it was made of plain unseasoned ground beef and that's it (I'm totally serious).

But that doesn't mean that the only choice is no burrito place or Chipotle's. In the de facto sense, sure, fast food chains expand, it's what they do, so a Chipotle's is likely to show up. But I can also think of a number of really good taco/burrito places in Northern New England that are independently owned by someone who looked around and thought "You know what would be great here? Burritos." And they're very popular. And much better than Chipotle.

It just sort of makes me sad that we think it's Chain Business or nothing. That leaves very little room for the small entrepreneur who might actually do things better, or more suited to the local clientele.
posted by Miko at 7:49 PM on February 11, 2012


What's so frustrating is that in almost the whole US you can get really good fast American/Mexican taqueria fast food. You may have to go to the wrong side of the tracks, you may have to smile a bit stupidly if you don't fully understand the menu, but anywhere in the US where people work with their hands for a living there are Mexican and Central American immigrants. And some of them are making delicious food. Tacos, burritos, pupusas. With spice, and lard, and flavor.
This is funny to me, just because I live in a majority-Mexican-American neighborhood, and there's no taqueria that's convenient to me. There are a couple of taquerias, but they're waaaaay across town. My neighborhood consists of a trailer park and a couple of apartment buildings, and there's no place right around here that is zoned for commercial use. The closest restaurants are downtown, and they cater to the downtown crowd, which is to say not people who live out in the trailer park on the outskirts of town. So in fact in my actual "wrong side of the tracks" Mexican-American neighborhood, Chipotle is more convenient than the authentic-type taquerias. And the reason that I don't go to them is not because I'm afraid to go to the "wrong side of the tracks," but because when I eat out it's because I don't have time to cook, and that generally means that I don't have time to drive 45 minutes to a taqueria, either.

I think Chipotle is fine. I get food from there occasionally when I'm stuck at work late. I don't really understand the hate.
posted by craichead at 7:50 PM on February 11, 2012


NYC of course has all sorts of great Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran, Ecuadorean, etc food. But if you're in Manhattan and dying for a San Francisco burrito you can do a lot worse than Dos Toros. I've only been to the West Village one but it was pretty good. Sloppy construction but the good flavor and game effort made up for it. They even deliver.

Seriously, there's no excuse for Chipotle pretty much anywhere in the US. Particularly New York. Heck, some of the best Mexican food I've had was in the middle of Wisconsin.
posted by Nelson at 7:50 PM on February 11, 2012


So the wife had two shrimp soft tacos. I had the enchilada platter (with grilled chicken and chili). We ordered extra guacamole and salsa ranchero.

Man, I am stuffed. At this point I have to stagger to bed and have dreams of eating all of the above.

Yummy Taco indeed.
posted by Splunge at 7:53 PM on February 11, 2012


But if you're in Manhattan and dying for a San Francisco burrito you can do a lot worse than Dos Toros.
Honestly, I'd prefer a Chipotle burrito.
posted by planet at 7:56 PM on February 11, 2012


To somehow tie this back to the original link, there's a Chipotle a few blocks away from Apple HQ and it's always packed with Apple employees at lunchtime.

To be fair, Cupertino has a notable lack of the kind of good & cheap Mexican taquerías one finds just a few miles south in San Jose or a few miles east in Mtn View.
posted by jamaro at 7:57 PM on February 11, 2012


Truthfully, sometimes I want In-n-Out instead of my local fancy burger place, too.
posted by Nelson at 7:58 PM on February 11, 2012


That's not really how I view Dos Toros. It just isn't good. I'd rather eat somewhere else. If there's nowhere else to eat, I'd skip the meal.
posted by planet at 8:02 PM on February 11, 2012


Do they have tomatoes in their guacamole? This is a very important decision factor.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:04 PM on February 11, 2012


the young rope-rider: The worst thing about NYC Mexican food is that everyone here has horrible fucking taste in Mexican food

Staying with a friend from SoCal in New York I found out that Southern Californians in New York (at least the ones in his social group) were obsessed with finding decent Mexican (SoCal style) places. When they met it was the first topic of conversation and my friend would periodically get text messages from other Southern Californians with tips and rumors. My friend never found the perfection which he sought, but some places got pretty close. So, if you run into people from SoCal, ask them about where to find good Mexican food in New York. They'll probably start crying, but they might at least point you towards something decent once the run out of saline.
posted by Kattullus at 8:04 PM on February 11, 2012


Ya'll people that think good/decent Mexican is easy to find would be surprised. I've lived a couple places where it very definitely is not. Seattle, for example, is a tough place to find decent Mexican (and the one okay place I know of shut down shortly before I moved). Then I got stuck living in Alabama for several months in a rinky-dink one horse town and I would've killed for a Chipotle, cause all we had was a Taco Bell.

Now I live in Texas where the tacos fall from the sky. Delicious, delicious tacos.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:22 PM on February 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm fortunate to have a lot of Mexican food options and like the variety of keeping multiple places in rotation. Chipotle makes tasty food at a decent price and it's the only fast food place I go to with any regularity. Growing up my family didn't eat Mexican food, so I had to discover it myself via Taco Bell. If it wasn't for the proximity of Taco Bell making me a fan of Mexican food I'm sure I never would have ventured into one of the authentic places when they first started opening in my neighborhood. I hope that Chipotle can have the same effect on others. Sure, it's sort of the lowest common denominator of Mexican food in terms of exotic or spicy tastes, but it's easill approachable for the consumer used to the fast food environment. That could be the gateway to expanding some palates.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 8:26 PM on February 11, 2012


Staying with a friend from SoCal in New York I found out that Southern Californians in New York (at least the ones in his social group) were obsessed with finding decent Mexican (SoCal style) places.

Southern Californians in the Midwest are like this, but they are looking for, and not finding, SoCal-style everything, not just mexican food.
posted by gauche at 8:31 PM on February 11, 2012


In the same way that In-n-Out Burger is not delicious.

Lies and misinformation.
posted by book 'em dano at 8:35 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Southern Californians in the Midwest are like this, but they are looking for, and not finding, SoCal-style everything, not just mexican food.

This Southern Californian found mexican food when he was living in Chicago. They've got this whole big neighborhood, cleverly disguised as a Czech neighborhood.
posted by kenko at 8:41 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some background on Steve Ells, the founder of Chipotle, might be warranted here. He was a chef @ the gourmet restaurant Stars restaurant in San Francisco, and when he'd go home to his apt in Haight-Ashbury, he's get a massive burrito at one of the cheap burrito places in that part of town. He loved these big, cheap burritos, so crafted a few tasty versions he was happy with, borrowed some money from his family, and opened the first one in Denver near Denver University. It was a pretty instant sensation, and so he opened a 2nd one by the Colorado University - Denver Medical Center, and that one had a line out the door most of the time, so from that, he grew his little empire, and people ate it up.

Thanks for the info! When I first had Chipotle, I was struck by how integrated the flavors seemed to be. All the pieces fit like a puzzle to me.

To the haters who proclaim blandness: what? Get the barbacoa with the hot sauce. Nothing bland about that.
posted by gjc at 8:42 PM on February 11, 2012


GJC, I have been similarly confused by the talk of bland. I grow habaneros on my damn balcony; if anything I've ruined myself to subtlety. But when I eat at chipotle (which isn't often, but more due to the nap induction than anything), I get the barbacoa with hot sauce, and definitely don't find it lacking in flavor.

I don't really get the hate. I mean, I get not liking it, and I generally prefer to eat a taqueria, but that's a predilection thing, not a quality thing. Saying otherwise is just snobbery (and yes, you can be snobby about cheap food). And, let's be honest here, the meat and ingredient sourcing at Chipotle is a lot more ethical and sustainable and local than whatever the taco trucks or hole in the wall joints are likely to be engaged in.
posted by flaterik at 9:01 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I once had a burrito in a town an hour from Prague.

They have chinese beef burritos at the 7-11 in Hong Kong. Hilarious, but nasty.
posted by msalt at 9:03 PM on February 11, 2012


Your food costs nothing, people will eat it up to death, you will make billions of dollars.

cf. Noodles.

And that place is stupid expensive, too
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:06 PM on February 11, 2012


What's so frustrating is that in almost the whole US you can get really good fast American/Mexican taqueria fast food. You may have to go to the wrong side of the tracks, you may have to smile a bit stupidly if you don't fully understand the menu, but anywhere in the US where people work with their hands for a living there are Mexican and Central American immigrants. And some of them are making delicious food. Tacos, burritos, pupusas. With spice, and lard, and flavor.

But Chipotle's not competing with those places, and people who eat at Chipotle wouldn't go to them, anyway. Chipotle is competing with KFC and Steak and Shake and Burger King, and it is absolutely destroying them at that game. As an alternative to Local Juan's? Mass market burritos are pretty atrocious. As an alternative to a Whopper? The place is nicer-looking, they serve vegetables, and you can pretend the pig you're eating had a name and ate off Farmer Bob's dinner table for the duration of his short and happy life. The way Chipotle is like Apple is that Chipotle is exploiting a market segment between fast food and fast casual that no one else knew existed, and everyone else is trying to catch up to them.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:12 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


God this thread makes me want to pull out the scant remainder of my hair.

Where do y'all think the "authentic" "mom & pop" places get their ingredients? They get it straight off the Sysco/USFoodservice/BigGiantFuckingFreezerOfCrap truck. Maybe they blend their own spices. That they bought in bulk at Sam's Club.

If it tastes good and the company isn't, I dunno, grinding up baby pandas for garnish, then shut up and fucking eat it. Food choice isn't a goddamn merit badge. Don't confuse "authenticity" with "quality".

GRAR GRAR GRAR
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:21 PM on February 11, 2012 [27 favorites]


In the same way that In-n-Out Burger is not delicious.

Lies and misinformation.


I recently had my first In-n-out Burger (Double Double Animal Style!) after hearing about it for what seems like a decade, mostly on this site, and I can can confirm that it was goddamn delicious.
posted by saul wright at 9:21 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chimichanga
posted by atomicmedia at 9:24 PM on February 11, 2012


I don't speak the language. I hold no currency. I like Chipotles, I don't need to be an expert in knowing where the exquisite salvadorean mom-and-pops place is in some obscure neighborhood. Chipotles is right in the food court I go to (occasionally) for lunch. I just stand in line, I tell them what I want.
posted by newdaddy at 9:39 PM on February 11, 2012


So before we sing the praises of taco trucks, I must note that taco trucks can often be awful for a vegetarian. There was only one in SF near my work that did a decent veggie burrito, but that was because their refried beans were awesome (and did not use lard) and they had spectacular hot sauce. The taco truck that camps out near work here in Seattle does not have a good veggie burrito. It's not inedible but Chipotle is definitely better, by a wide margin (if only because I can get veggies other than iceberg lettuce). At one point I got a burrito that was was 90% rice, a tiny smear of refried beans and then a pocket of iceberg with some cheese. That was my last veggie burrito from them. The taco truck does have an ok veggie muleta. Unfortunately they are a bit greasy and cost too much for the quality (small, too runny and bland refried beans, scant cheese and more damn iceberg lettuce.)

So honestly? Chipotle is often safer for me if I don't know the local burrito options (though I usually don't get it in burrito form). I know it has actual veggies. I know the (black) beans don't have lard. Sure, if I'm not super hungry and am willing to risk something, I'd definitely go to a hole in the wall or a truck. But if I'm in an unknwn place, tired and hungry and my familiar options are the usual chains, I'll go to Chipotle.
posted by R343L at 9:43 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


This validates my suspicion that this whole sous-vide thing is a carefully orchestrated PR campaign, designed to scam the public into accepting pre-cooked, plastic wrapped food as "gourmet"...TV Dinners, 2.0...
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 9:50 PM on February 11, 2012


I recently had my first In-n-out Burger (Double Double Animal Style!) after hearing about it for what seems like a decade, mostly on this site, and I can can confirm that it was goddamn delicious.

I'm having my first early next month. So excited!
posted by lumensimus at 10:17 PM on February 11, 2012


How does one name their tech company Apple? It's like naming a Mexican food place Chipotle.

I'd say it's closer to calling your WIMP-environment "Windows".
posted by dumbland at 10:23 PM on February 11, 2012


This validates my suspicion that this whole sous-vide thing is a carefully orchestrated PR campaign, designed to scam the public into accepting pre-cooked, plastic wrapped food as "gourmet"...TV Dinners, 2.0...

If I recall, sous-vide was originally developed for mass produced food like Chipotle's and for higher-end airline food and such. It was later that fancy-foody-science-types turned on to sous-vide and developed wacky fun stuff to do with it.

The linked article is a bit of a mush. It seems like the point of the piece is that the service industry doesn't get enough respect; there are shrewd business innovators there just like in tech.

But the connection to Apple seems like a stretch or stretched link bait or link stretch or something. Is any well-run company like Apple? Is Toyota the Apple of car manufacturers? Is Chipotle the Toyota of Apple Stores?
posted by device55 at 10:28 PM on February 11, 2012


I have a Chipotle a few blocks from my house. I still drive 5 miles in the opposite direction to get my burritos from Taqueria La Bamba.
posted by w0mbat at 10:36 PM on February 11, 2012


Well, I can buy an Apple or iPhone in my town. (I won't buy an iPhone, but I COULD...)

No such luck with a Chipotle burrito.

So there, it's not the same at all.
posted by Samizdata at 12:03 AM on February 12, 2012


I have had decent taqueria food in Seattle, somewhere a bit past Northgate mall, I think. Not blow you away good, but definitely authentic and tasty. And cheap. So there are at least some options there, even if it is still a few steps down from southern California.

I've eaten at Chipotle a few times while traveling. It's better than Burger King, but a long way from great. Decent standardized fast food, nothing more but nothing less, too.
posted by Forktine at 12:07 AM on February 12, 2012


what i just don't get about the american interpretation of mexican food is the meat. it always tastes terrible compared to the real thing. and chipotle is no different. (what kind of spices are on their meat anyway? it all tastes awful) i can force myself to eat chipotle with enough salsa, but ack, why bother. the second worst thing about american interpretations of mexican food is the salsa. (i'll even forgive them their omnipresent wheat tortillas)
posted by readyfreddy at 1:37 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


As globalization continues to transform the world, the human need to eat on a regular basis is a constant. And as technology improves, we’re still left with just 24 hours in a day. Under the circumstances, faster and better food is a great strategy for winning the future.

What marketing team wrote this hideous conclusion?

Chipotle guarantees that people who have never tasted good Mexican food, never will. But, because of Chipotle, they will have an opinion on Mexican food. And that opinion will be worthless.
posted by vacapinta at 2:46 AM on February 12, 2012


I live in the Bay Area, and the UC Berkeley (most of Berkeley, really) is a wasteland for Mexican food. Someone above mentioned cheap Mexican places near college, but those places are really nasty. The Mission is a BART ride away; ditto Fruitvale, although really you need a car.

So, it's not like I do a happy dance or something, but between the dim sum place hidden away around the corner, the OK Middle Eastern Place, and Thai Noodle (er, RIP) down Telegraph, the Chipotle next to the Bank of America is an acceptable option.

So, if it can do survive in what everyone seems to be calling one of the centers of Burritoland, it would probably be pretty glorious to see in, say, a Bend, OR strip mall. I've driven ten miles to Fruitvale several times, but sometimes you need to eat something.
posted by goodglovin77 at 3:02 AM on February 12, 2012


Also am I the only one who finds the texture of the heated tortilla around their burrito to be eerily like human skin?

Perhaps you should not say such out-loud often as others might judge your cannibalism.

posted by rough ashlar at 4:32 AM on February 12, 2012


If you work in the typical suburban office park complex, the existence of a Chipotle among the usual collection of corporate lunch options is a huge upgrade. It's the "let's treat ourselves today" option, because, as moderate as the flavors may be, they blow the usual workday fast food options out of the water.

And there's their "win a free lunch for you and 12 co-workers" business card bowl. I've won that twice.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:11 AM on February 12, 2012


Here in Aus, at least in my local area, our choices for Mexican/Mexican-style food are:

Wahoo's (primarily fish tacos, but they do pretty good chicken; overall just above average)
Salsa's (pretty f'n bland, but cheap enough and does the trick when you don't want a burger - but the fries make up for it)
Guzman Y Gomez (absolutely delicious, only problem - one, not that easily accessible location)
Montezumas (sit down chain, woeful food, woeful service)
Jungle Cafe (single location, not cooked by Mexicans, but still the best I've had)
posted by cerulgalactus at 6:22 AM on February 12, 2012


Where? Seriously, not snarking, I'd like to know. I've lived here for almost three years and the only decent Mexican food I've had came from La Carta de Oaxaca or a taco truck.

White Center and Burien have very large Latino (and Cambodian) populations.

Also, chipotle is awesome, so is In-and-Out, and I really miss Wahoo's.
posted by bq at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2012


The most memorable burrito I've had was in Madison, from some place that advertised 'burritos as big as your head'.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:42 AM on February 12, 2012


The worst thing about NYC Mexican food is that everyone here has horrible fucking taste in Mexican food
posted by the young rope-rider


I like La Superior (menu is .pdf only unfortunately)
posted by rosswald at 7:12 AM on February 12, 2012


I understand the knee-jerk opposition to chain restaurants. I only go to them if there is nothing else. Thing is, chain restaurants aren't going anywhere. They're here to stay, so I think it's a good thing when they try to rise above the others.
Despite my joke earlier, there are really a ton of Mexican owned eateries in my town. I've eaten at a number of them and I have not been terribly impressed by most. I don't think vegetarianism is a thing in Mexico, so maybe I'm missing out on all the delicious meat they have to offer? I don't know.
posted by orme at 8:15 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Fajita style bowl, no rice, barbacoa or steak, some guac...SO much better for someone who's avoiding flour and starchy crap than the alternatives.

There's one of (they claim THE) largest Mexican grocery stores right around the corner from my studio, but absolutely none of their deli-hot-food section lunch stuff has anything even remotely vegetable-like in it save the occasional potato, so on that score Chipotle definitely wins. If I want real taco cart tacos in the summer I will go to the grocery store parking lot. If I want some vegetables with my meat, I'll go to Chipotle.

It just seems really food-snobby to disdain Chipotle for not being "authentic" or real, whatever. It's not meant to be Abuela Central, it's fast freaking food. It's reliably tasty for fast food, and I can get behind their meat sourcing (Niman Ranch pork? Ok!), especially compared to the cheap shit you find elsewhere. I'm with BitterOldPunk on this one.

(Oh, and speaking of his comment re: the 'authentic' places buying their spices at Sam's Club.....I recently witnessed the owner of our local Super Authentico! Mexican Place! buying a bunch of Goya crap at Stripper Giant Eagle (don't ask)...which explains why their rice has super-sucked lately and why we haven't bothered to go as much as we used to)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:49 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't ordered their burritos, but Dos Toros commits the taco heresy of using only one tortilla per taco. You can't eat a taco with with one tortilla--it just disintegrates in your hands. The one time I asked for double tortillas, they charged me something like $2 extra. Yet they've opened at least one additional store in the last year.

I used regularly make a stop for the Korean tacos served by the Korilla truck, but they switched from six-inch to four-inch tortillas for their tacos. What a ripoff! I haven't been back since.

/taco derail

The only place I currently get burritos is near my office in Williamsburg, Loco Burrito. Never been to Chipotle, but have walked past the one on Broadway and 110th plenty of times. I see it as the complement to Koronet pizza across the street: big and flavorless.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:52 AM on February 12, 2012


You can't eat a taco with with one tortilla--it just disintegrates in your hands.

When I make tacos at home and don't take the time to fry my own shells, I've found that putting the meat in the pre-made taco shells and then sticking them in the oven at 350 for 5 minutes lets the shell crisp up nicely while allowing enough of the taco meat juices to soak into the shell so it doesn't explode while you eat it. Follow by a layer of cheese (to separate the hot ingredients from the cold) and then the lettuce and other stuff.
posted by hippybear at 8:58 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


A Chipotle burrito is a good burrito the way good Manchurian chicken is better than strip-mall buffet Manchurian chicken. It's a good pop-American recipe, only nominally connected to Mexico or Manchuria. I suppose if we'd ended up calling meatloaf pâté au ketchup, people would wring their hands about that too.
posted by bendybendy at 9:10 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


The worst thing about NYC Mexican food is that everyone here has horrible fucking taste in Mexican food

The Mexicans too? I'm guessing the Mexican store owners around here could throw together a pretty close approximation.
posted by Splunge at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2012


I guess I don't really see how creating a thousand-calorie food bomb is equivalent to blending aesthetics and function in technology.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:28 AM on February 12, 2012


So where *is* the best place to get tacos/burritos in NY? My favorite is that taqueria with locations on Mott St. and in little triangle near Bleeker and Lafayette. But I've barely been to California, let alone Texas/Mexico.
posted by cuban link flooded jesus at 9:50 AM on February 12, 2012


Chipotle guarantees that people who have never tasted good Mexican food, never will.

What? Is Chipotle kidnapping people now? We should alert someone!

But, because of Chipotle, they will have an opinion on Mexican food. And that opinion will be worthless.

No, that opinion will be about AMERICAN food. And it will be valid.

See also:

Pizza
Spaghetti
"French" fries
"Chinese" food
Cajun food
Soul food
... and every American-made food product that originated elsewhere, such as chocolate and cheese

American cuisine is syncretic, and always has been. It takes the culinary traditions of our immigrant citizens and re-interprets them. That is a feature, not a bug.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:29 AM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


American cuisine is syncretic, and always has been. It takes the culinary traditions of our immigrant citizens and re-interprets them. That is a feature, not a bug

I don't disagree with you.

But, well, in my thinking Chipotle is to Mexican food as KFC is to American Southern food. American Southern food is a thing of beauty but KFC is not. So, we could substitute if you like:

But, because of KFC, they will have an opinion on Southern food. And that opinion will be worthless.
posted by vacapinta at 10:50 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reading food threads on Metafilter is like talking to extraterrestrials. Do you really have no idea of how normal people live?

Nobody thinks "I would like to have an authentic Mexican food experience, so I will go to Chipotle." They sit at work and think "I forgot my packed lunch on the kitchen counter, and now I've got 30 minutes to find something to eat and eat it. What's around here that is fast and not revolting? KFC is revolting. Chili's is not fast. Oh, I could go to Chipotle! Ok, I'll do that." Chipotle is not forming anyone's impressions of Mexican food. It is merely a fast-food alternative that is better than the other stuff on offer.
posted by craichead at 10:59 AM on February 12, 2012 [15 favorites]


Cuban link flooded jesus, my preference is the Super Tacos truck on West 96th at Broadway. Two bucks! There was a truck on 14th Street, but I haven't seen it recently. Cascabel Taqueria is good but overpriced.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2012


craichead: Chipotle is not forming anyone's impressions of what Mexican food is.

I wish that were true. Do you think Starbucks is not forming anyone's impression of what a coffee shop is?
posted by msalt at 11:34 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's not southern California or anything, but Seattle does have a sizable and established latino community and plenty of good authentic mexican food.

Agua Verde is pretty good, but a bit expensive. There are Mexican food trucks, too. Chipotle does good trade here, but they are not the only option. Also, the Asian grocery on Aurora and 110th or so has a great Mexican ingredient aisle and cheap Mexican Coke in the glass bottles.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:38 AM on February 12, 2012


Between the two, I like Qdoba more, mainly because their food does not taste like salt.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:01 PM on February 12, 2012


Chipotle's barbacoa and steak are both pretty damn good, as is their guacamole. I don't understand why people view Chipotle and taqueria style burritos as in competition with each other, and snub their noses at the Chipotle crowd. Chipotle and taqueria style burritos are both delicious, they're just different kinds of food. Back when I lived somewhere that had both, I regularly ate at both places. I know I'm supposed to have my whole identity tied up into which kind of fucking burrito I eat, but fuck that, they're both delicious.

And now that I'm in NYC, I haven't yet found anywhere that makes a burrito I like. Chipotle is all over the city, and I'm glad for that, because it's the only thing keeping me in burritos since I've moved here.
posted by !Jim at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Correction, Feb. 9, 2011: This article originally misspelled Steve Ells' last name.

Yeah, "Ells" is a tough one. That never would have happened with Jobs.
posted by Ike_Arumba at 3:33 PM on February 12, 2012


Never understood why McDonalds sold Chipotle off in 2006.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:51 PM on February 12, 2012


now that I'm in NYC, I haven't yet found anywhere that makes a burrito I like.

You are not going to find a burrito here that can stand up to Cali burritos. IMO the best one used to be at Kitchen / Market in Chelsea but they closed. SAD FACE. Now Calexico has the crown. It started as a food cart in SOHO but was such a success they started opening up locations in Brooklyn.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:04 PM on February 12, 2012


My resident Latina Seattle expert recommends the semi-permanent taco trucks down in White Center. I know there's one that does an awesome elote (corn kernels with spices) and mango carved into a flower shape with lime juice and spices. They're near the hardware store around 112th.

There's also a couple of great Vietnamese sandwich places in the center of White Center there.
posted by msalt at 5:31 PM on February 12, 2012


Grew up in TX, work in SF, have had quite a bit of tex-mex in my lifetime, and from the choices of taquerias in a 6 block radius of work, I prefer Chipotle over the others if I'm looking for a burrito.

other places have either taste issues or cleanliness issues.
posted by mulligan at 5:40 PM on February 12, 2012


Do you think Starbucks is not forming anyone's impression of what a coffee shop is?

Multiple studies have shown that Starbucks arriving in an area actually increases sales at other nearby coffeehouses. So if Starbucks is forming an impression, it's good enough to drive people to expect more out of their coffee.

Maybe the same thing is happening with Chipotle and Tex-Mex, but given that Tex-Mex has been common in the US since the early 1970s, it's not going to have the effect that Starbucks had when they opened shops in the Midwest.
posted by dw at 6:34 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every since I moved to San Diego, I've been fascinated by all the taco bells and chipotles in this area. Why get the industrialized version if the "original" (ymmv) is available at the same price with the same level of convenience?
posted by falameufilho at 7:14 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because of this thread, I've now had Chipotle's for dinner two days in a row.
posted by empath at 7:36 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


oooooh ooooooh oooooh someone do a banh mi post
posted by nathancaswell at 7:53 PM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here is the key thing to remember when ordering at Chipotle's, get the fajita burrito. Then they will put in delicious grilled onions and peppers instead of any of those disgusting beans that try to destroy my intestines and colon.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:09 PM on February 12, 2012


The Chipotle's near me doesn't have corn tortillas, so my interest in the rest of their ingredients is nil.

There is no reason for a Chipotle's in the SF East Bay.
posted by small_ruminant at 10:37 PM on February 12, 2012


There is no reason for a Chipotle's in the SF East Bay.

The one on Telegraph just south of the UC Berkeley campus seems to do a pretty brisk business, though. But I think this might just be because of their location. Students like staying in their little bubble.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:48 PM on February 12, 2012


It's kind of interesting to me how many people in this thread call it “Chipotle's,” as if it was started by a guy called Chipotle. Is the a regional thing or something?
posted by !Jim at 10:55 PM on February 12, 2012


I think that's just a genre carry over, since so many fast food joints are named like that (Let's go to McDonald's/Wendy's/Rally's/Moe's, etc).

Cf. Chili's.
posted by dgaicun at 11:22 PM on February 12, 2012


Chipotle and Tex-Mex

Chipotle is not Tex-Mex; it's a form of Cal-Mex. There's a real difference between the Americanization of Mexican food in the two states. I like California-style burritos and eat a lot of them, but they're not the burritos I grew up with in Texas.
posted by immlass at 6:39 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Metafilter, for making me feel like a cretin for liking Chipotle. I don't just like Chipotle, I fucking love Chipotle. I don't know about the Apple comparison, but I do like their food. I live in the Midwest, so we've got our fair share of Mexican restaurants (Americanized and authentic), and I know I've had authentic Mexican food that's better than Chipotle. I recognize that. But, Jesus Christ, I can't stand these hate threads on something as benign and meaningless as Chipotle. It's just a goddamn fast food burrito joint. Get over it.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:09 AM on February 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks, Metafilter, for making me feel like a cretin for liking Chipotle.

You must be new here. If something isn't the best, most 100% authentic thing in the universe, it is complete and utter shit. Even if that thing is made from rice, beans, charbroiled meat, and a couple other ingredients you can't possibly screw up.
posted by bondcliff at 7:53 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The whole authenticity strand in this thread has been bugging me and I can't quite put my finger on why. It sounds like you guys think that Mexicans are magical food fairies that sprinkle authenticity dust on their tacos along with chili pepper. I've had some pretty terrible 'authentic' mexican food before.
posted by empath at 8:05 AM on February 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


It sounds like you guys think that Mexicans are magical food fairies that sprinkle authenticity dust on their tacos along with chili pepper. I've had some pretty terrible 'authentic' mexican food before.

I'm not an "authenticity" person (I like my local burrito places best for a lot of reasons, including because they offer options I enjoy that aren't on the menu at Chipotle) but to a certain extent "authenticity" for me is "tastes right" in a sense related to regional debates about barbecue, chili, and pizza. If you like NY style pizza, other styles of pizza won't taste right and regional variations on the NY style may not taste "authentic" to you, have "authentic" crust texture, etc. Saying Chipotle is taste-tested for a national audience and not for the regions where the dish was originated and/or popularized isn't a surprise: that's how national fast food chains work. For some people it may be about "authentic" Mexicans, but I don't even think of Cali-style burritos as being a Mexican food.

Also, fwiw, I've had plenty of dodgy "authentic" Mexican food. I came of age in the pre-Yelp dark ages, when you wanted a personal recommendation to find a good hole-in-the-wall and not risk food poisoning, so I'm 100% behind the idea that "authentic" cuisine may not be that great.
posted by immlass at 9:13 AM on February 13, 2012


For the sake of Science, I am going to go to the #1 ranked 'Authentic Mexican" place on Yelp that's within 5 miles of here for lunch today, and will compare to Chipotle and report back... It's a grocery with a kitchen in the back, and apparently the entire menu is spanish and everyone who works there only speaks spanish, so this should be interesting...
posted by empath at 9:28 AM on February 13, 2012


This, a million times, this> Everything tastes the same at chipotle, in an unpleasant way.
And to my palate, the meats all taste like hot dogs, good ones, but tube-steak nonetheless.

And those sour-salt chips (hint of sugar and lime oil) taste like the process in processed food stuff.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 10:19 AM on February 13, 2012


to a certain extent "authenticity" for me is "tastes right" in a sense related to regional debates about barbecue, chili, and pizza

Fauxthenticity is a perfectly cromulent word.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:26 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If something isn't the best, most 100% authentic thing in the universe, it is complete and utter shit.

You forgot hyperbolic claims of severe stomach distress, days of diarrhea, if one should make the mistake of ever eating in one of those fast-food places.
posted by straight at 10:30 AM on February 13, 2012


Blazecock Pileon: Fauxthenticity is a perfectly cromulent word.

And absolute murder at Scrabble.
posted by Kattullus at 10:37 AM on February 13, 2012


But, Jesus Christ, I can't stand these hate threads on something as benign and meaningless as Chipotle.

This thread reminds me of how threads about Starbucks go around here. Or In-n-Out (5 Guys, too). Or pretty much any chain.
posted by birdherder at 10:53 AM on February 13, 2012


And to my palate, the meats all taste like hot dogs, good ones, but tube-steak nonetheless.

Unless they are flat out lying, their meat is nothing like that, and it doesn't taste that way to me. You're tasting what you want to taste because you feel like you're too good to like them.
posted by flaterik at 10:54 AM on February 13, 2012


I think they taste fine for a fast food lunch option and I'm no snob, but how do you guys get around the 1100+ calories for a burrito? Add a non-diet drink and that is my allowance for an entire day.
posted by naju at 11:46 AM on February 13, 2012


When I go to Chipotle I come away with two meals. Provided I can get to a refrigerator soon.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2012


I think they taste fine for a fast food lunch option and I'm no snob, but how do you guys get around the 1100+ calories for a burrito? Add a non-diet drink and that is my allowance for an entire day.

Water or iced tea. Also, have you considered taking up breastfeeding?
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:57 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bondcliff, I am not new here. I don't comment on the blue very often because more often than not it's mostly hate threads about any given subject. This just seems especially petty because it's a popular food chain.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 12:25 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well the article did compare Chipotle to Apple. You were expecting something other than histrionic fanboyism?
posted by Nelson at 12:55 PM on February 13, 2012


Unless it was made by my friend Rick's mom, I refuse to acknowledge the authenticity of any Mexican food.
posted by malocchio at 12:58 PM on February 13, 2012


Lunasol: "Where? Seriously, not snarking, I'd like to know [re: Seattle food]."

I can't really say it's authentic (my time in Mexico amounts to one afternoon in Tijuana, and a friend forced us to go to the damned Hard Rock Cafe for some godforsaken reason), but I hear El Quetzal on Beacon Hill is pretty good that way. The food there is definitely good. I have never had a burrito there -- I usually have a huarache, which is a flat masa base with toppings. The one I usually have is mushrooms, epazote, queso fresco, and green sauce. Yum! El Quetzal isn't a taco truck -- it has seats and a bar, so you might want to check it out.

In regard to dw's comment earlier about Seattle not having a large Hispanic population -- well, sure, it's not L.A., but living in South Seattle as I do it seems a lot more Hispanic to me than it probably does to folks living in North Seattle. It has been a very noticeable increase in the last 20 years, that is for sure. When I first visited Southern California in 1990, I noticed that all the fast food workers I saw seemed to be Hispanic, and thought about what a contrast that was to Seattle. Now Seattle's fast food workers seem to be mostly Hispanic too. Though I guess it depends on your neighborhood.
posted by litlnemo at 2:40 PM on February 13, 2012


Okay, I went to the #1 result on Yelp for Mexican food within 10 minutes of my office. The very first review says "This is the most authentic mexican food I've had since I was in Mexico."

Got Carne Asada.. The steak was tough and bland, and I was given a plastic fork that was in no way up to the job, so I ended up jawing my way through huge pieces of tough steak. The rice was dry and tasted like old el paso. The 'salad' was just shredded iceburg and some tomato slices.

On the plus side, Mexican Coke! And it was cheap.

But then again, now I've got the shits.

So basically, yeah, that was my experience today with "Authentic Mexican." Thanks guys.
posted by empath at 4:05 PM on February 13, 2012


Well that settles it, empath got the shits. I guess we can close this thread up now and all meet up at Chipotle tomorrow for some lunch. Thanks guys!
posted by nathancaswell at 4:08 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


That raises an interesting question. What are the 'tell-tale' dishes of a burrito joint? For example, when I go to a new (northern-style) Indian restaurant, I always order saag paneer. If it's too liquid to eat with a fork, I know to ratchet down my expectations. Now, whether a restaurant is good or bad isn't a binary condition, but I've never known a good Indian restaurant that messed up its saag paneer, and never has sub-par saag paneer not been accompanied by bad-to-disappointing other dishes.
posted by Kattullus at 5:12 PM on February 13, 2012


I don't know, Kattullus, but I bet someone who knows what they're doing with data mining and had time a slave an intern a graduate student to read a bunch of Yelp reviews could figure it out.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:35 PM on February 13, 2012


Burrito Eater is good reading, one man's effort to review all San Francisco taquerias. What's particularly impressive is he keeps going back to places and reviewing them over the years. I've watched him review in action, he has a little form he fills out and everything. I mostly agree with his tastes although there's no way I could tell an 8.3 from an 8.6. (He doesn't take himself as seriously as you might think from the 13 factor analysis.) He's reviewed two Chipotles in SF, neither particularly favored but taken seriously enough.

As for judging a place, what I mostly look for is the flavoring of the whole pinto beans, the correctness of the rice texture, and whether the meats are grilled to order or fished off a steam table. Getting all those things right is key to a good burrito; bland beans, mushy rice, lukewarm grey meat are all ways to make a bad burrito. Buttery avocados, bright fresh salsa, and a flaky flour tortilla are very welcome. The meat is the challenge; I seldom trust the carne asada at cheap dives because the quality of the meat is compromised by the price. Carnitas is the real test of a taqueria, but if that's looking high risk I usually go for chorizo.

But burritos are kind of a complex mush. What's really fantastic in a great taqueria or taco truck are when the tacos are perfect. Two little fresh corn tortillas lightly fried in hot oil, perfectly crisped up carnitas, a little dash of hot sauce and maybe some shreds of cabbage and fresh chile for garnish. Terribly simple, but when it's right it can be fantastic.
posted by Nelson at 5:59 PM on February 13, 2012


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