Chipotle vs. Qdoba: The Burrito Faceoff You've Been Waiting For
Burritos are a total wonderfood: spicy, salty, protein-packed, filling, and magnificent. Burritos are an excellent pick-me-up on a bad day, and may even hold the key to the cure for the common cold. It is a scientific fact that no one has ever cried while eating a burrito, except tears of joy.
While Chipotle has been busy taking over the world, or at least suburbia, Qdoba is not far behind. And while they both serve customary, Mexican fare, assembly-line style, the chains feature several key distinctions.
So, who prevails? Who wins this burritattle royale? Picking between them is not easy. It’s like picking between Chuck Norris and Ron Swanson, or asking your mom to choose her favorite kid (probably you, but your sister is better at doing the dishes and gets better grades but she’s way more lame).
Alas, someone has to do the dirty work, so I got down to business over the weekend. Don’t envy me.
Challenge 1: Ubiquitousness
Chipotles are freakin’ everywhere. You can’t turn around without hitting one–it’s like the Starbucks of burritos. If you’re really craving a Mexi-fix, chances are you will end up at Chipotle–there are about twice as many of them as Qdoba restaurants. In this sense, Qdoba is playing hard-to-get. As cute as that is, sometimes you need a burrito stat.
Challenge 2: Menu
Both Qdoba and Chipotle serve similar fare–burritos, tacos, burrito bowls, and a handful of other tortilla-based items. Chipotle stops there. Qdoba, on the other hand, serves nachos, tortilla soup, gumbo, even salads. While the simplicity of Chipotle’s menu is admirable, Qdoba’s variety really hits the spot–especially since you can mix-and-match by combining menu items via their various combo platters. To put it simply, eating a burrito is great, but eating a burrito and nachos is better.
Challenge 3: Protein
Call me new-fashioned, but I like that Chipotle uses hormone and antibiotic-free meat whenever possible.
Challenge 4: Vegetarian options
First, Chipotle uses mostly organic produce, which is cool. However, for you vegetarians out there, Chipotle’s pinto beans are made with bacon and thus not vegetarian, which is deceiving, since beans are, like, generally regarded as vegetarian. For the record, Qdoba’s pinto beans and both chain’s black beans are vegetarian. And neither chain charges for guacamole on vegetarian items.
Challenge 5: Guac surcharge
Speaking of, the price for guac in general is out of control. Prices vary, but in my hometown, Chipotle charges a whopping $1.95 extra for guac, and Qdoba charges $1.19. That’s 64% more! I think. Math.
Challenge 6: Toppings
Qdoba has queso. Melty, cheesy, sourcreamy, spicy queso. I could drink a bucket of it. Sometimes I’m so gluttonous that I get a side of queso with my burrito that already has queso in it. I get extra queso on my nachos. I'm like a chocoloholic, but for cheese.
Challenge 7: Chips
Qdoba has great nachos, but that’s purely queso-related. First, Chipotle has the word chip in it. Chipotle’s chips make me wish chip marriage was legal so I could marry their chips and raise a chip/human family. It also makes me wish chip/human cannibalism was legal because I’ll definitely be munching on my salty, delicious chipspring.
Challenge 8: Calories
Final score: Qdoba 4, Chipotle 3.
Qdoba ends up sneaking by, which I know is blasphemy to many of you. Surely, some metrics were missed–do you think we should take into account things like ambiance? Charitable donations? Owner (fun fact: Chipotle used to be owned by McDonald’s; Qdoba is owned by Jack In the Box)? Advertising? Salsa varieties?
Well, for now it stands. Qdoba is the champ.
Agree? Disagree? Freaking out?