Qdoba’s Queso Advantage. Qdoba should continue to establish itself atop the Tex-Mex hierarchy


Misha Rekhter, Perspectives Editor

As Tex-mex chains have flooded into the general public, one of the giants in the industry, Chipotle, has long been considered the standard-bearer of the fast-casual industry. Yet lost in the success of Chipotle is the quality of its competitors in the Tex-mex realm. Moe’s Southwest Grill has stolen away customers with its offer of free chips and salsa with each meal. Smaller chains have adapted in the post-Chipotle world and continue to survive. However, the other elephant in the industry remains Qdoba, the only true threat to Chipotle’s reign. Both Chipotle and Qdoba originated as Denver-based companies; Qdoba’s first restaurant opening two years after and four miles north of the original Chipotle. These two hallmarks of Tex-mex have remain attached at the hip ever since, but while Chipotle revels in its fresh, non GMO guarantee, as well as its minimalistic ordering style, it is Qdoba that still win out.

Yes, I will concede that Chipotle is the standard for healthy, organic food, but is it worth it? Qdoba is consistently cheaper than Chipotle. It’s prices are locked in with guacamole and queso (two vital ingredients) free of extra charge. Moreover, the diversity of Qdoba’s menu options easily vanquishes Chipotles. While, Chipotle has recently succumbed to external pressure and added queso to its menu, Qdoba has long had a wide variety of tasty, intriguing queso options. Furthermore, Qdoba simply offers more, differing food options than Chipotle. It becomes obvious that Qdoba is the more inventive of the two, as it consistently rolls out new food options. Chipotle remains rigid in its simple style, but Qdoba is unafraid to experiment and try new, bold options.

As a fan of the industry as a whole, it is difficult to choose between the two delicious restaurants. However, for me, it is a simple dichotomy when comparing the two, freshness vs willingness to adapt. Chipotle stubbornly refused to add queso at the pleas of its loyal customers for years, but Qdoba has shown an uncanny willingness to be malleable. Also, Chipotle prides itself on freshness, yet it was embroiled in an E-coli disaster in the past year. As such, for me, Qdoba emerges as the clear superior between the two. It costs less, it’s more diverse and has avoided poisoning its customers; Qdoba seems to be the clear choice.