Which fast-casual Mexican grill do YOU prefer? Read our writer's opinion, then vote for your favorite at the bottom of the article!
The other day, I went to Qdoba for the first time in years, simply because it was on the way home and traffic was a nightmare. No line, almost identical food. So why is there such a huge gap in the Chipotle and Qdoba food scenes?
I honestly don't get it! Chipotle in my area always has a line. If they don't, you might as well leave, because they're bound to be out of something pretty big, like tortillas. In comparison, most of the cars outside of the local Qdoba are usually for the nail salon next door.
On the surface, they've both got fast-casual Mexican-ish food down pat. Bowls, burritos, chips, and quesadillas are all standard for both, so why the huge discrepancy? Let's unpack this, shall we?
Courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill
Qdoba wins this one, no contest. Not only does it come free as one of your toppings, it's smooth and refined here. Chipotle's queso is relatively new to the game and they've got a long way to go in the taste department. Score one for the Q.
Chipotle's meats seem to be much more highly seasoned. Not just spicier, but also more savory. Their barbacoa and carnitas are truly delicious and inspire dozens of copycat recipes online. The chicken and steak at Qdoba were pretty basic, so let's give this category to Chipotle.
Both have pinto or black beans, seasoned white or brown rice, and a variety of raw veggies and salsas, but Qdoba has a few things that Chipotle doesn't. Because you can get fresh cilantro, cotija cheese, chopped onions, and mango salsa, I'm giving this one to the Q, too.
Courtesy of Qdoba
Qdoba has cookies and brownies at the cashier station to finish off your meal with a sweet treat. Chipotle, not so much. Score another one for the Q.
Hands down, this goes to Qdoba. Maybe it's due to their clever marketing, but Chipotle does a great job of packing the house. Their popularity keeps their customers filing in the door in a constant stream, regardless of the length of the line in front of them. Competing with the phone and online orders, the people in line at Chipotle often have to wait for other people's burritos to be made while they stand and wait in person. Needless to say, this can be particularly infuriating.
I was in and out of Qdoba in about five minutes, even with another person in front of me. Getting two burrito bowls in less time than it takes to fill your gas tank? How can that be?
Color me converted, but I'm going to stick to Qdoba from now on. There simply aren't enough differences in the food quality to deal with the long lines at Chipotle. If you haven't tried a side-by-side comparison of the two yet, what are you waiting for? The grass may actually be greener on the side with free queso!
Where do you stand on the Chipotle vs. Qdoba controversy? Take our poll to let us know!