08 July 2011

Chipotle and Qdoba

Initially, I was going to title this post "Chipotle vs. Qdoba", but after much consideration, I realised that I really don't know which one I prefer. I can't profess loyalty to either company - in fact, maybe I don't adore either (remember, Govinda's took over the "My Favourite Restaurant" label). Sure, I love burritos, but while I was eating Qdoba recently, I realised that I eat burritos for
1. Avocado
2. Beans
3. Cheese
(Haha. The basics - A, B, C.)
I don't eat burritos for the white flour tortilla, the rice, the tomato salsa, and certainly not the cilantro.
For around $7, I can get definitely two cans of beans, two avocados, and a package of cheese.

Anyway, I guess I shall talk about each.

My first visit, with TJ - the location on 15th and Walnut St. allows you to get a free drink if you show the cashier your college ID. Unfortunately, this doesn't apply to the one on campus.
I asked for everything in the burrito, which meant that it wasn't properly shaped. By "everything", I mean rice, black beans, all the salsas, sour cream, cheese, and guacamole.
Taste? Well, I got a super spicy salsa, which TJ warned against, but I could tolerate it fine. The guacamole taste wasn't that prevalent, since guacamole was such a small component of the overall burrito, and it was mashed finely. The cheese melted really fast, and the beans and rice were soft. I don't really love the taste of the tortilla, but I guess I'm not a huge fan of store-made white flour tortillas, anyway.
This is another Qdoba burrito, without the sour cream and only including corn salsa (I don't particularly like sour cream). I find that heating up the burrito in a microwave, thus heating up the guacamole, actually makes an amazing dip! Again, I'm not really big on the rice or tortilla.
A vegetarian burrito with tax is $6.25, and Qdoba has a rewards card and coupons, so after some number of points, I can get a free burrito. The coupons are useful because I managed to get two burritos last weekend for $6.25. Qdoba also has other options (e.g. tortilla soup), but I don't really think I'm interested in them.

I used to prefer Chipotle because there's one in the town next to mine, but since I'm in Philadelphia, Chipotle and Qdobas are usually next to each other (which doesn't really make sense, but it's true). Recently, Chipotle started using gold foil wrappers because they want to stress that their food is high quality. It doesn't really make a difference to me, but...

...they have brown rice now! Definitely a plus. I ordered the burrito with brown rice, fajita vegetables, medium salsa, corn salsa, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. There was a lot of guacamole (okay, not enough in my honest opinion, but enough to satisfy me), plenty of rice, and an even distribution of beans. I definitely should've chosen the mild salsa, because the medium one was really spicy... or maybe that was the fajita vegetables? The rice was perfectly chewy (the way brown rice should be), and the tortilla was plain.

Chipotle's burrito in the town next to mine is $6.25 without tax, and at the one on campus, it's $6.93 with tax. I don't think Chipotle has a mailing list, which therefore means that there are no coupons or anything...

Portion sizes a side (hah.)...the matter of which is better weighs little in my list of priorities (hah.). I would say that Chipotle does have higher "quality" because of the chunkier/higher portion of guacamole, the presence of vegetables (fajita vegetables and lettuce!) and the brown rice option. However, Qdoba definitely has it in for price; it has double-point days, it has a rewards program, and it has coupons.

Through all this chomping though, I realised that neither actually offer what I really love... they just stick in convenience and packaging, and make me think that I love the restaurant. Like I said, I don't care much for the carb parts, or the proprietary recipe for the rice/guacamole/salsas! I don't even care much for the spices added to the beans because I like beans out of a can (or British baked beans!!).

So, I guess I should from now on make my own burritos-without-the-carb-parts...
1 can of black beans = ~50c, 400 Cal
2 mashed avocados = ~$3.00, 550 Cal
2 servings of low-fat cheese = ~$1.50, 200 Cal
Maximum $5.00 for the same 1000+ Calorie "burrito".

Actually, Chipotle and Qdoba aren't even Mexican, right? I mean, maybe the ingredients are used the way they're used in Mexico, but the portion size is highly Americanised. Still, delicious.


  1. I, madame, take umbrage with your "burritos". They are not burritos. Unless a block of cheese and some tomato sauce is a pizza or that aforementioned tomato sauce and some meat is a lasagna. And if you're making an actual burrito then you'll need guacamole rather than just avocados, which is prohibitively expensive to make well in small batches, so I cast aspersions on your $5 claim as well!

    Good day!

  2. I guess it just means that I prefer eating a mix of beans+cheese+avocado over eating an actual burrito.
    Thanks for the wish of a good day but I didn't really have one. Good day to you too!