Everyone loves Chipotle. I know this because every single Chipotle has a line out the door at lunch time every single day. And sometimes at night, too. And this held true when I lived in Cleveland, Chicago and now Los Angeles.
So I've decided to take on the challenge of ranking the 11 best items they serve at Chipotle, in order. And I know what's at stake, because people get crazy about their Chipotle.
Guacamole. Whatever it is that they do with their guacamole, they nailed it. It's so good... not just compared to the crappy, watery guacamole that other similar restaurants serve... that it's worth the extra several dollars they charge for it.
This looks like the reverse order of ingredients, right to left. Maybe it's a Chipotle in Israel.
Chicken. All of the Chipotle meats come out pretty well, but the way they marinate the chicken makes it the best. Also, I have a suspicion that someone at Chipotle headquarters ordered the employees not to put too much steak into burritos (it's expensive)... but with chicken, you can give the employee a doe-eyed look and she'll dump a little extra in. Because what's the only thing better than chicken? Extra chicken.
Corn salsa.Of their salsas, this is really the only one that changes the game. The mild is too mild and tomato-y, the hot is way too hot, and no one ever seems to order the middle one (why bother?). But the corn salsa is the right mix of spice, flavor and uniqueness. I would say it's a-maize-ing, but that would just be corny. (DOUBLE HI-YO!)
Barbacoa. People are scared of it. But once you order it, you'll find it delicious. And don't forget -- people were once scared of eclipses, too. Now we send our kids out to look at them by poking a pinhole in a shoebox.
Chips. I don't like that Chipotle charges for chips... it seems kind of rude, since no other place does that... but, at least if you're going to charge, make it worthwhile. And they do. They salt the living hell out of those chips... and people keep coming back for more. Although, that's not at all a surprise... McDonald's used to own Chipotle, and they cracked the oversalting -> addiction equation decades ago.
Black beans. It's a tough call, because black versus pinto beans really breaks down to individual preference. I just find the black beans to be a little less waxy... and also to look a little less congealed when they're sitting there.
Burrito shell. By all accounts, the Chipotle burrito shell is one of the world's least healthy foods. It adds something like 400 calories to your meal. But they sure are good. And what's another 400 calories, right? This is America. 400 calories can't even give us enough energy to peel our bodies out of bed in the morning.
Sour cream. It's good. And by good, I mean I hold it to the usual two standards for sour cream: (1) It enhances the food's deliciousness without overpowering it and (2) It doesn't smell spoiled.
Steak. Unfortunately, as Marge Simpson once said, money's too tight for steak.
Cheese. The cheese isn't quite flavorful enough to justify how much it de-healthifies things. Yet I keep ordering it. I think I've ordered it every time I've been to a Chipotle in the past eight years.
Soda. You know how some places always have issues with their soda machines? Too syrupy. Too carbonated. Stuff's always running out. Unstocked ice. That's never happened at a single Chipotle I've been too. And they used to give you a free soda if you had a student ID. They don't do it anymore, but that promotion alone brought a tear to my eye. Especially since I look young and rode my college ID until I was 26.
On a side note, I've never tried the pork, so I left it off the list. I'm sure it's delicious. But me and pork don't have a good relationship. So it's off.
This post was originally published on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 12:40:50 PM under the category Food & Drink.