Food & Dining

Chipotle vs. Qdoba

In the world of fast-food Tex-Mex, there’s actually just 2 brands that vie for dominance. There’s the iconic Chipotle, and then there’s the upstart Qdoba aiming to take the throne.

Is Chipotle Vulnerable?

In the past, Chipotle has managed to maintain its supremacy simply due to its long-standing fame. People are familiar with their offerings, and they stick to what they know. That’s part of the allure of comfort food—you’re used to it.

In addition, there are more Chipotle locations so you’re more like to find one than a Qdoba branch. There are more than 2,200 Chipotle restaurants compared to the paltry 700 locations for Qdoba.

But in recent times the Chipotle brand reputation has taken a beating. The E. coli outbreak smeared the brand name in the mud, and the unimpressive additions to its menu didn’t really help. There was even a recent hacker attack. It got so bad that founder and CEO Steve Ells is poised to step down in the near future, and his replacement will face a whole host of problems to turn the Chipotle brand around.

One of the main problems with Chipotle is that the scores of its customer reviews are declining to the worst levels ever. People are complaining more and more.

In addition, menu additions like the bunuelos have flopped. This is a fried tortilla dish with cinnamon, sugar, and honey and it’s a traditional Mexican dessert. It was tested in New York and it didn’t quite click with customers.

Qdoba Success

Meanwhile, fans of Qdoba insist that this brand’s offerings and practices are clearly better than its older rival. Let’s take a look at some of the differences:

  • Try the chicken burrito, and you’ll notice that both brands offer the same simple ingredients. You have the chicken plus the black beans and cilantro rice, and then the salsa verde, pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce, cheese, and queso. They’re all there inside the foil wrap.
  • However, you’ll probably notice right away that with Qdoba the queso and the guacamole are free add-ons. With Chipotle, you gotta fork the dough. That’s $2 for each, so right away you’ve been jacked $4 so that you can enjoy the cool guacamole and the taste cheese.
  • The Qdoba wrap is also quite solid and nice. With Chipotle, there’s a good chance that you’ll have a few tears or a bit of sogginess to the package. Qdoba burritos don’t have salsa juices seeping through, so you’re not at risk for accidental drips.
  • Of course, Chipotle fans can counter with the fact that the standard burrito from Chipotle is a bit heftier. It’s better suited for the hungry, though for weight watchers the Qdoba burrito is easier to handle. The bigger size of the Chipotle burritos makes it harder to eat on the go since spillage is a concern. For best results, you need to sit down with a fork and lots of napkins to enjoy this huge meal.

The Chipotle Taste

Let’s try the chicken burrito, as it’s the most affordable protein option here. Let’s also try the queso as the staff will strongly recommend. Get the guacamole as well, despite the extra cost.

The chicken is quite juicy, and plenty of people love the taste of it. You may also appreciate the hint of charred grill taste, which makes it extra special and superior to other fast food chicken. Also, the rice smells great, the beans have been properly prepared, and the tomatoes are tasty.

Pair this with the tomatillo salsa verde, and you’ll get a nice and bright spiciness for your meal. The queso, on the other hand, is forgettable.

The Qdoba Difference

With Qdoba you can choose from brisket, steak, pulled pork, and 2 types of chicken. There’s also a veggie option. Many like the Tequila Lime chicken burrito, as the citrus flavor is a pleasant addition to the overall taste. It matches the cilantro rice taste nicely.

The amounts of the ingredient in the mix seem just right, and they’re arranged nicely. There’s none the sogginess that’s often a sight in Chipotle mixes.

The queso here is also much better too. It complements the taste of the burrito perfectly, without drowning it out altogether. With Chipotle, sometimes the taste of the queso is too overwhelming. Chipotle prides itself on its organic ingredients, which can be somewhat limiting.

What about the guacamole? Chipotle fans contend that their version of the “guac” is much better, while Qdoba fans say that they’re equal in quality. But they sure aren’t equal when it comes to price, as Qdoba guacamole is free. When it comes to value for money, the Qdoba guacamole wins.


The Tex-Mex war continues between the Chipotle and Qdoba brands. There’s no doubt that Qdoba is waging a serious challenge to Chipotle supremacy, but a new CEO may turn things around. Meanwhile, we can all enjoy the results when 2 brands contend fiercely for our Tex-Mex loyalty—we get better offerings due to the fierce competition.

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