April 16, 2011
Battle of the burritos: Chipotle vs. Qdoba
BUT WAIT. On every burrito run, a decision must be made. Should one to go to Qdoba, located directly down from Blair on Colesville, or Chipotle Mexican Grill, snuggled in the heart of Ellsworth Drive? Some are indifferent and simply go to whichever stop is more convenient, whereas others are strictly faithful to just one restaurant.
This reporter embarked on a quest to determine: a) whether there really is a significant difference between these two restaurants, and b) whether one is actually superior. After days of corn stuck in teeth, guacamole-stains on clothing and mild-to-extreme food comas, this reporter delivers the SCOfficial verdict on the best burrito joint.
What likely sets Chipotle and Qdoba so far above their less spectacular cousins (*cough*TacoBell*cough*) is the actual freshness of their ingredients. Patrons can see and choose exactly what goes into their burrito, so there's never a mystery as to what one is eating.
The second deciding factor was not in fact the ingredients, but the preparation. With the way Chipotle employees place ingredients and wrap the burrito, the contents become mixed to provide for a full blast of flavor in each bite. At Qdoba, however, the ingredients remain separated within the tortilla, fragmenting the different tastes and leaving parts of the burrito that are drier.
Of course, opening the burrito to mix the ingredients yourself is not an option, as wrapping them back up is a skill not held by the average human. Thus, Chipotle wins in best taste.
There is really no debate here - a simple glance at the menu settles it. Chipotle does burritos, tacos, tortilla-less burritos as well as some chips and guac. Qdoba hits all those bases and more - including breakfast.
Aside from the typical burritos, Qdoba offers somewhat intimidating yet intriguing signature flavors such as Mexican Gumbo and Poblano Pesto. Their equivalent of Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl, the Naked Burrito, can also be served in a crunchy tortilla bowl. However, it was really two things of a guilty-pleasure nature on the Qdoba menu won this reporter over: queso and nachos. Granted, these are neither the healthiest nor best foods in the world, but they’re there. And that’s what matters.
This is another area in which Chipotle falls short, even if only by a bit. A burrito at each restaurant ranges from $6-9, but the average burrito at Qdoba, excluding all extras, usually works out to be a dollar cheaper than at Chipotle. But as a student these days knows, one dollar is nothing to waste.
In fact, the presentation of one’s student I.D. at Qdoba leads to a half-price deal on Mondays, as well as a free drink any day of the week! That kind of discount is always worth it, regardless of the kind or quality of food.
For food supposedly so similar, the two restaurants differ heavily in atmosphere. Qdoba restaurants has a warm feel, with walls colored in bright yellows and greens. Plenty of light always streams in from the windows and upbeat music plays in the background.
It is hard to declare a winner in this category, as it really comes down to personal preference. However, here at SCO we tend to gravitate toward things that exude "cool"
Before Qdoba fans prepare for attack, do take the following into account.
Still, Qdoba remains a formidable runner-up (after all, they have nachos). This investigation may sway some to Chipotle and leave others firm followers of Qdoba. But in times of true hunger, where one goes is secondary - as long as they believe in the bulging burrito, little can go wrong.