The age-old debate concerning Mexican fast food has thus far been limited to one question: Qdoba or Chipotle? Both sides have their fanatics and fanboys; while Qdoba has a more varied menu, Chipotle specializes mostly in burrito making, but in order to objectively compare the two for the casual eater, we have confined the taste testing to burritos only. From Qdoba, we bought a chicken burrito with its signature queso sauce, and from Chipotle we purchased a chicken burrito with guacamole. We have judged the burritos in certain key elements: the presentation and how easy it is to handle the burrito, the tortilla, the meat, and other ingredients.
Here we want to point out a couple of conspicuous differences. For the burritos that we received, the Chipotle burrito was slightly larger than the Qdoba burrito. It’s not enough of a difference to make or break either one but it does tip the scales just a little. Moving on, we want to point out that Queso sauce, no matter how delicious it is, seems to almost always gravitate toward the eater’s pants. The liquid aspect of this cheese caused it to spill out immediately after taking the first bite, while the Chipotle burrito was much more manageable. If you ever need something on the go to eat while in a rush, we recommend getting Chipotle so you don’t burn yourself in deliciousness and ruin the tuxedo we’ll assume you’re wearing. Overall, presentation goes to Chipotle, whose burritos are not only more manageable to deal with, but also more visually appealing, though this probably does not matter once you get into the meat of it… pun intended.
As much as we would have loved to have eaten a burrito of every meat, we were only able to get chicken burritos so our meat comparison will be confined to that meat. The meat quality is hands down swung toward Chipotle, which has more seasoning and simply has a better taste to it. To determine this, we conducted a blind taste test with an agreed decision of Chipotle’s meat being better. Also, Qdoba does not provide the option of carnitas, an aspect which many consider of value at Chipotle.
Honestly, this is the hardest part to judge. Both of us got tortilla stuck in our teeth for different burritos. The tortilla at Qdoba is slightly thinner, so it seems as if the burrito is about to explode, and often times does just that. The thicker tortilla does not really make a huge difference for the Chipotle burrito, but it is a nice addition to the overall experience.
This is where personal preference sets in, often becoming the deciding factor in which eatery a person likes better. The rice, beans, cheese and sour cream are essentially equivalent to one another. The first point of order here is the sauces; if you have an affinity for spicy sauces, the hot sauce debate goes to Chipotle. If spicy food turns you into the guy on the cover of Warheads, then you will have to choose Qdoba. Next is the guacamole; Qdoba’s is loaded with salt, making it inferior to the glorious avocado mash which Chipotle hands out. Most important of all, though, is Qdoba’s queso. To put it simply, Qdoba’s queso tastes how we can only imagine eating a sunny day at a beach would.
Drum roll please… Because of its superior meat quality and easier eating experience: Chipotle. Admittedly, this is only by an extremely slim margin. More importantly, if you are a queso craving type, Qdoba is the place to be. So although Chipotle overall has the better burrito, the true debate is settled by each man through his personal preferences.
By Andy Yang and Shayan Ahmad