Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Tale of Two Quesaritos: Taco Bell vs. Chipotle

I've never been too big on Mexican food in general, so I've never really been a Taco Bell guy (except for when they add breakfast and I write 2 novels). But once I realized (someone yelled at me) that you don't have to get beans in burritos, I've recently become burrito crazy. Rice, chicken or steak, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, quac, cheese. Delicious. 

I had heard rumors of such a thing as a "Quesarito" existing at Chipotle, but Taco Bell beat them to making the name famous, recently releasing their version into the wild and actually advertising for it. 

So I hit up Taco Bell and got one. I don't think I've ever ordered a burrito from Taco Bell. I went with chicken and I was nervous. 

It wasn't very big, but it was also only 3 bucks, which I feel is fairly reasonable for this.

Biting in, mine was pretty low on rice, and the sour cream and chipotle sauce kind of mixed together into a goo. It certainly didn't look like they had advertised (yes, I realize I got a different kind of meat).

It was definitely cheesy, but was it anywhere near what the ad showed? I dissected.

not quite, but I'm not complaining

They mix together shredded cheese and a cheese sauce, which initially felt cheap- I wanted all shredded. But over time, I grew to like this combo, because, like hot american cheese in a sandwich, it made a nice creamy cheese mess of yum.

This thing was small, and Taco Bell has thin enough tortillas that I didn't really feel like I was eating 2 with cheese in between them, but this was certainly cheesy. The ingredients were subpar and pretty limited, but it was pretty tasty- at least 3 bucks at Taco Bell tasty. I might get this again but it's doubtful. I already feel the beginnings of becoming a burrito snob, so I don't see me getting a burrito at Taco Bell again any time soon, unless of course it's my only option and I've heard the call of the rito (have you heard it yet?). But if you were someone who already did get TB burritos, absolutely get this, unless you don't like cheesy, creamy deliciousness and fast food places making up crazy concoctions like this. Support crazy concoctions! 
I'll give this a C+. It's nothing incredible, but it's exactly what you'd expect it to be, and after adding breakfast to their menu, it's another big step in the right direction for Taco Bell. 

I'm not someone who is gonna let Taco Bell have this one though. I like comparisons almost as much as I apparently like spending a lot of money on food, so off to Chipotle I went to try their version. 

The quesarito is not on the menu there, but order it- they'll know. 

I know burritos from Chipotle are generally enormous anyway, but this thing was truly frightening.

Not only was it bigger than my hand and the plate I put it on to rest my arms, it was heavy as hell and the chick who made it could barely wrap it correctly.

I mean that both for tin foil and for the rito. This was the best she could do:

Chipotle's version of the quesarito is drastically different than Taco Bell's- not only in the obvious sense that you can customize the hell out of it and it's WAY bigger, but also in the fact that this is a Quesarito in its truest form. She actually made a cheese quesadilla (with monterey jack cheese (and a TON of it)), and while it was cooking, put what I wanted in a bowl. Once the quesadilla was done, she dumped the bowl's contents into the middle and attempted to turn it into a burrito. This makes a bastardized mess of a burrito, but this is truly a burrito wrapped in a quesadilla. 

Which means lots of cheese.

Here: in this picture, the cheese has globbed itself into its own layer of wrapping.

Make this picture larger. This is the amount of cheese Chipotle deals with.


So this is delicious, but even for a larger individual who was starving, I had trouble finishing this. It's A LOT of cheese added to an already absurd burrito. The extra tortilla made it hard to eat too- the quesadilla was kind of its own thing, just with a lot of stuff inside, ready to pour out with each bite. But it was pretty mind blowing. 

I gotta say though, as awesome as this was, there were some pretty big downsides. First off, I wanted to die after eating it. Secondly, it costs 12 dollars. Yes, 12 dollars for a burrito (I got it with quac though, so without, it's probably $2.50). Third: again- I'm pretty new to burritos, but I'm pretty confident in saying that Chipotle doesn't know how to make a burrito. Maybe it's just the one I went to in Burlington, Mass. The chick who made this was nice and awfully nice to look at, but sorry hun, a burrito isn't supposed to look like this:

Top half: lettuce and quacamole:

Botton half: chicken, rice, salsa:

I don't know why they choose to make burritos the way they do. I'd go on a pages-long tirade, but this dude already did it so well, I'm going to respect him and link him. But seriously Chipotle, it's not hard to put ingredients in a line so you get each ingredient in each bite. It's even less hard to stir up the ingredients once dumped from the bowl into the quesadilla. But no- they just dump way too much stuff in a pile and wrap it into almost a circle. I really like quacamole, but I don't want the first 10 bites of my burrito to just be quac. I don't want all the meat to be in the last inch of the burrito either. It's supposed to be spread out. And it's supposed to be a tube of goodness, not a brick of ingredients sectioned off from each other. Did Martin Luther King teach us nothing?

So, essentially, A+ for the idea and possibilities, C for execution.

As much as Chipotle's poor efforts piss me off, this was real good. Maybe I need to try a different Chipotle? Maybe I should be the guy that just asks them to mix up the ingredients? Because when I got a little bit of everything in one bite, this was SO good. That was just pretty rare. 

This could be a thing of glory- a whole new super awesome and super fat take on something that's not that bad for you to begin with. But Taco Bell has the low grade fast food version and Chipotle has the higher end, I'm-actually-eating-food version, just made all wrong. Neither really got it right, but the fact that this exists at 2 huge chains at the same time could mean the beginning of more places trying this. And soon, your hole in the wall local burrito place that makes perfect burritos will be next in line. I'll be waiting, rabid for cheese, 12 dollars in hand, ready to embrace the future. 

-review by Mike


  1. The Chipotle in Newington, NH is actually pretty stellar at burrito crafting.

    1. yea I've gotten some good ones there. Perhaps I'll see if they can handle a quesarito...

  2. Bedford NH makes pretty great burritos too

  3. Did Chipotle give you any grief in ordering that? A friend ordered one here, and was practically castrated by the steely glare he got from the Burrito Artist. And we were the only ones in the joint.

    1. Not at all! I think she was actually excited that someone had ordered it.

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  5. If you want the Chipotle workers to mix the contents, just ask. I've seen several people do it and they even have special little tools for mixing it at the Chipotle I frequent.

    1. Thanks! I've been hearing that a lot. It's weird they don't automatically mix it. Who wants their burrito to be just clumps of ingredients completely segregated from each other?!