Hello and THANK YOU for being here. I have a huge video and blog for you today.
By the end of this, I will have determined which fast casual chain burrito restaurant is No. 1. Of course, this is just my POV, so it isn’t necessarily “correct,” but it probably is. I know there will be controversy no matter which burrito takes the top spot, so to get ahead of the curve here, let me just say this: calm down.
Now that we’ve established that, I’m just going to jump right in and go burrito by burrito. Our candidates are Chipotle, Pancheros, Qdoba and Moe’s Southwest Grill. I’ll drop the video below if you would rather watch than read, or if you want to watch and then read, be my guest. It’s a lengthy video, but I really wanted to get it right. Also, I’m obscenely full right now as I write this. BUT, on the bright side, I have leftovers for the rest of the week.
The thought for this post originally sprouted probably a year ago when I was thinking of other directions I want to take the site. I thought it would be fun and good to rank the burrito chains. People love burritos. I love burritos. It was rekindled recently while chatting with my guy Cody Middendorf. Sup, Code, thank you for bringing this up again.
ALSO, I for some reason didn’t have much Moe’s burrito left by the time I finished recording, and figured I might as well polish it off, not thinking I had yet to take pictures of each individual burrito, so that’s my bad. No biggie, though, they all look the same. It’s a tortilla surrounding delicious rice and mush.
I tried to keep each burrito as consistent as possible with the ingredients: chicken, brown rice, black beans, queso, corn salsa, hot salsa and pico.
I gotta say, these restaurants aren’t all conveniently located near each other, so it took awhile to wrangle all these burritos. But, it was worth it. I’m pumped about this post.
Let’s run through these morsels and then I’ll give my ranking at the end.
The strengths: Qdoba has, I’d say, the best-tasting chicken here. I can’t tell exactly what every place’s recipe is, but at Qdoba it’s adobo chicken and it is delicious. Qdoba also features probably the second-best queso I had today. It’s just good, cheesy, flavorful stuff.
The weaknesses: I don’t like the rice or salsa at Qdoba as much as the others. The other salsas I had offered more depth of flavor and a better heat index. The tortilla was also my least-favorite of the four.
The strengths: Easily the best tortilla here. Pancheros has handmade tortillas that they press and grill right in front of you as you’re ordering. Taking that step to ensure the quality of the shell sets the foundation for a great burrito. Everything else was solid throughout. The queso wasn’t the best I had today, but it was good. The salsas were all pretty strong, as well.
The weaknesses: Nothing glaring. The queso could’ve had a bit more flavor, but it was a very strong burrito throughout.
The strengths: Another very strong burrito throughout featuring the clear best queso of the four. The chicken was flavorful, the salsas were good and the tortilla was respectable.
The weaknesses: Nothing that notable. Other than the queso, nothing was a huge standout; it was decent throughout. I would like the option to put the spicy salsa on the burrito in the line, rather than having to grab a couple containers after the fact and dunk each bite.
The strengths: Probably the most consistent burrito I ate. It was decent throughout and I didn’t pinpoint anything that dragged it down. The chicken was good and fresh and I love Chipotle’s hot and corn salsas. Those were the best two sauces I had today.
The weaknesses: Lack of a standout queso. It’s good, but not great. The burrito was certainly not worse from the addition of queso, but I’d consider swapping it out for guac, where I feel the other quesos really elevated their respective burritos.
There were certainly four strong efforts across the board and I enjoyed the bites I had from all of them. If dinner ends up being at any of these places, it’s generally a good experience.
My ranking of the four burritos was as follows:
Fourth place: Qdoba. Great chicken, good queso, weak tortilla compared to the others.
Third place: Chipotle: The most consistent throughout with the best salsas, but the queso wasn’t on the same level as the others.
Second place: Moe’s. Strong throughout with the best queso. No glaring weaknesses.
First place: Panchero’s. By far the best tortilla with decent queso and solid meat and salsas. That tortilla is just unmatched.
Well, there you have it. Probably my most important and controversial post to date. I appreciate you reading and watching, especially if you’ve made it to the end.