Food & Dining

Is There a Way to Settle the Qdoba vs. Chipotle Debate?

Out of all of the restaurant chains that are always pitted against each other, Qdoba and Chipotle are possibly the closest competitors that won’t make you feel like you’re comparing oranges to apples. The two are both Mexican-inspired fast-casual chains from Denver, Colorado and are best known for their Mission-style burritos. They have the exact same target market, making it crucial for many to determine which one is actually better.

With the Qdoba vs Chipotle debate raging for longer than two decades already, it’s really about time to settle it once and for all. This is a hard feat and we don’t claim to do it in this short feature but we hope that our points help you find the answer for yourself.

So what is the battle like? Here are the most important points that you should know to help you make your own opinion about this topic:

Qdoba and Chipotle are the two most competitive Mexican-themed chains in the market today.

These two go neck to neck compared to the other Mexican-inspired fast-food and fast-casual chains today. This is possibly why they’re also always pitted against each other because they pretty much set things up for people to keep comparing them.

However, despite this fact, these two chains are still quite different. Their brandings aren’t identical as Chipotle highlights their use of fresh and real ingredients while Qdoba is committed to appealing to diners’ palates better. Even their names kind of set them apart. Chipotle harks back to traditional Mexican cuisine as it comes from the Nahuati word for smoked jalapenos or “chilpoctli” while Qdoba was made up so their name would be different.

Qdoba has lots of options while Chipotle likes to stick to their guns.

As some experts put it, Qdoba doesn’t think that being a fast-casual chain puts them above the popular fastfood gimmick of trying out several menu items to see which one works. It’s risky but it keeps their menu from being boring. It also gives customers something new to try every now and then.

Chipotle, on the other hand, likes to focus on improving and refining their menu. The items are rather limited but customers love it and come back for them often so it’s not a problem as well.

At Qdoba, extra guac won’t cost you.

This is one of the strongest arguments that Qdoba enthusiasts love to throw out: they won’t charge you if you ask for extra guacamole. Chipotle charging for their extra guac has become so well known that it’s now a pop culture reference. It’s an unfortunate thing, too, because you always need extra guac for your Mexican meal. 

Despite their additional costs, however, many say that coughing up for Chipotle’s extra guac is worth it because they’re tasty and fresh.

Chipotle has more locations.

It’s no secret that Chipotle has made Mexican food more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable. With more than 2500 locations all over the world, it’s certainly more easily available than Qdoba which only has about 700 locations around North America.

Chipotle is committed to providing quality food.

While Qdoba also serves fresh food, Chipotle has an edge in the competition as they’re pretty staunch in sourcing fresh and real ingredients for their customers. Not only they promise to provide real food but the fact that they also make sure to avoid GMO products makes their chain pretty impressive.

In fact, Chipotle is the first restaurant chain to claim that their menu is GMO-free. This is a unique feat that’s very notable for a for-profit company to do.

Qdoba’s queso won cheese lovers’ hearts and tummies.

When Qdoba’s and Chipotle’s burritos are compared side by side, the most obvious difference between the two is the quality and taste of cheese they use. Qdoba’s queso always wins by a landslide as it’s tastier and saltier than Chipotle’s. They also come in different varieties which will further ensure that you’ll enjoy your food better. 

Chipotle’s chicken and guacamole are voted tastier than Qdoba’s.

On the other hand, Chipotle’s chicken and guac are hailed to be tastier than Qdoba’s offerings. Blind tests have closely compared and evaluated the offerings of the two chains and concluded that Chipotle wins in this area.

Mexican food experts like Qdoba’s food better overall.

A counter-argument to the point mentioned above is the fact that Qdoba was chosen by a few Mexican food experts as the superior burrito purveyor of the two chains. They liked the flavor of their burritos better. And since they have a wide knowledge of Mexican food and an American palate, it’s safe to say that they’re good authorities on the taste, we’re willing to take their word for it.

Final Verdict

The competition between Qdoba and Chipotle is really tight but considering the taste and value, Qdoba tends to be a strong winner in our books. However, since Chipotle is easier to find, you can still expect us to enjoy their food often.

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