What Kind Of Food Is Chipotle? (Explained)

Indianapolis - Circa April 2017: Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurant


At some point, many people have had Chipotle.

With a small menu consisting of Mexican-style food, it can sound like traditional Mexican food, but it has left many people confused.

Whether you are a regular at Chipotle or thinking about trying it for the first time, you might be wondering what type of food Chipotle is.

Here is everything you need to know about Chipotle and what kind of food they serve.


What Kind Of Food Is Chipotle?

Mexican beef burrito


Chipotle is considered a Mexican-American restaurant.

It may seem like a Mexican restaurant with a limited menu of burritos, bowls, salads, and tacos.

However, Chipotle is thought of as a fast restaurant and is often referred to as Mexican-inspired with an American influence as it has no real roots in Mexican culture or cuisine.

Chipotle is not considered authentic Mexican food.

They use similar spice profiles, and in general, they serve Mexican-style dishes such as tacos and burritos.

However, Chipotle is still considered an American restaurant.

Those who are familiar with authentic Mexican food would not consider Chipotle authentic Mexican and would think of it as Mexican-inspired.

If you are looking for authentic Mexican food then Chipotle would not be the restaurant of choice.


What Is The Difference Between Chipotle And Mexican Food?

Street vendor hands making taco outdoors


Although Chipotle is Mexican-inspired, there are key differences between Chipotle and authentic Mexican food.

If you are seeking traditional Mexican food, you will notice that Chipotle is not the same.

The types of tortillas used are very different in authentic Mexican food and Chipotle.

Chipotle does not use homemade tortillas.

They typically use flour tortillas for tacos, whereas traditional Mexican food uses corn tortillas for their tacos.

Chipotle does offer hard-shell corn tortillas, which is common in authentic Mexican food.

When making traditional Mexican food they will use Cotija or Queso Blanco cheese, but Chipotle uses shredded Cheddar or shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Many of the sauces used in traditional Mexican food involve complex ingredients, but Chipotle has simplified these, so they are quick and easy to make.

Therefore, they are not exactly like the sauces and salsas that are used in authentic Mexican food.


Is Chipotle Considered Fast Food?

Chipotle Mexican Grill


Some people might refer to Chipotle as fast food, but it is not fast food.

In the restaurant industry, Chipotle is called fast casual.

This means that it is quick and convenient like fast food, but it also offers the environment and quality of a sit-down restaurant.

You may hear Chipotle referred to as fast food or healthy fast food, but it is technically not a fast food restaurant due to the dine-in experience that they offer.

It appeals to many people because you can use it as a fast food restaurant if you are wanting a quick meal, but you can also dine in if you would rather take your time and eat in the restaurant.


Does Chipotle Serve Processed Food?

Burritos with chicken and vegetables at wooden desk


Chipotle is not considered processed food.

Their menu is simple, and almost all of the food they offer is not processed or minimally processed.

They are proud to offer healthy alternatives to many fast food restaurants while not sacrificing flavor.

They gained nationwide attention by becoming the first national restaurant brand to no longer use added colors, flavors, or preservatives in their food.

Unlike many companies, Chipotle released an ingredient statement that allows customers to view the specific ingredients in each food item they offer.


What Is The Best Thing To Order At Chipotle?

Homemade Carne Asada Street Tacos


Everyone has different preferences for what they want to order at Chipotle.

Many people would argue that their personal favorite is the best thing to order.

However, certain menu items have been more popular than others over the years.

One of the top menu items at Chipotle is the Barbacoa tacos.

Many people prefer to get them with a soft shell tortilla and minimal ingredients to make them truer to authentic Mexican food.

Another popular menu item is a burrito bowl with chicken.

The bowls have become a must-have for many people, especially those who want a healthier option.

It is a great way to still get the deliciousness of Chipotle while eating something on the lighter side.

Perhaps coming in as the most popular item on their menu is the carnitas burrito.

Chipotle has always been known for its large burritos and the warm, fresh tortillas make all the difference.

Their burritos can be customized with anything you wish to add and for some people, the burrito is their go-to menu option every time.


Does Chipotle Use Real Meat?

Raw beef meat


Yes, Chipotle does use real meat.

The only meat that is not considered real meat is their sofritas, which is a plant-based protein that can be ordered in place of meat for those people who are vegetarian.

However, Chipotle received an “A” rating from the Chain Reaction III Report and Scorecard, which bases its review on antibiotic use in farm animals.

This means that Chipotle is responsibly sourcing their meat and using real meat that has not been treated with antibiotics or added hormones and has been raised in more humane ways.

For those people who are very conscious about the quality of meat that they consume, they will lean more towards choosing Chipotle when trying to find a quick option for food because they have worked hard to only serve good quality meat.


What Other Restaurants Are Similar To Chipotle?

Qdoba Mexican grill


If you do not have a Chipotle in your area, there are food options that are very similar to Chipotle and will have similar menu choices.

Restaurants such as Qdoba, Baja Fresh, Rubio’s, and Moe’s Southwest Grill all offer similar options to Chipotle at around the same price point.

Although these restaurants are not identical to Chipotle and will have different foods as well as flavors, they do share similarities and are a great alternative for those who love Chipotle.


Is Chipotle Better Than Qdoba?

Qdoba Mexican Grill Exterior and Logo


Chipotle and Qdoba have some similarities, but some differences may have some people expressing a preference for one over the other.

Over the last few years, Chipotle has emphasized its slogan “food for integrity.”

They have prided themselves on food that is raised humanely and non-GMO.

However, Qdoba has made their tagline, “What are you going to love at Qdoba?” which means that their variety of flavors and items will leave an option for everyone.

They do have a more extensive menu than Chipotle does.

When it comes to the infamous guacamole at Chipotle, Qdoba has the upper hand because they do not charge extra for guacamole.

Chipotle has caught some grief for charging extra for guacamole in the past.

Chipotle previously came out with queso and it quickly was removed from their menu.

However, Qdoba has queso that has been loved by many.

They seem to have come out on top with regard to the queso on the menu.

In the end, Chipotle and Qdoba have similarities when it comes to menu items, but it comes down to personal preference as to which restaurant is better.

Some people will prefer the simplicity of Chipotle and the fact that they are non-GMO as well as the fact that they use meat with no added hormones.

However, others might prefer the additional options that Qdoba offers and want to be able to have more menu options.


Are Chipotle And Taco Bell Similar?

Westfield - Circa July 2018: Taco Bell Retail Fast Food Location


A common comparison that is made between restaurants is people comparing Chipotle to Taco Bell.

However, these two restaurants are vastly different.

Chipotle has a very limited menu compared to the very extensive Taco Bell menu.

Chipotle is going to be closer to authentic Mexican food than Taco Bell will.

Taco Bell is also considered a fast food restaurant, whereas Chipotle is fast casual with the option to have a traditional sit-down dining experience.

Chipotle also uses all fresh ingredients with no added hormones, but Taco Bell has never made a statement that says they do the same.

Overall, the restaurants differ greatly and would not be considered similar.


Is Chipotle Still Owned By McDonald’s?

 Editorial Use Only Large McDonald's Sign


Those who are familiar with Chipotle and the background behind the company have probably heard about the involvement that McDonald’s had in the company.

However, McDonald’s does not own Chipotle nor did they ever fully own the company.

When the company first began in the 1990s, the founder Steve Ells needed some financial backing to help fund the company’s expansion.

It began as a small company in Denver, Colorado.

McDonald’s took a minority stake in the company and invested in helping to expand Chipotle.

However, by the time Chipotle became a publicly traded company in 2006, Mcdonald’s owned approximately 90% of the company.

Eventually, McDonald’s sold their share of the company due to some differences of opinion on how Chipotle should be run and organized.

McDonald’s no longer has any stake in the company and does not own Chipotle.


Is Chipotle Healthy?

Mexican salad with quinoa and vegetables


Chipotle is considered one of the healthier options when it comes to faster dining.

This is due to their fresh ingredients that are free of additives.

However, even though they are considered a healthier option, it can be easy to add up the calories on a Chipotle order depending on what you add to your order and how much you plan to eat.

Their portion sizes can be large, especially when it comes to their burritos as they can end up at around 1,000 calories.

It is important to keep that in mind if you are working to get healthier or lose weight.


What Is The Healthiest Thing To Eat At Chipotle?

Chicken burrito bowl


If you are concerned about what you are eating and want to pick the healthiest option at Chipotle, then a salad or bowl would be your best option.

You can add your meat of choice, rice, and beans.

Those who are wanting to be extremely health conscious may choose brown rice and black or pinto beans.

As far as the healthiest toppings for your salad or bowl, your best options are going to be fajita veggies, guacamole, and salsa.

Toppings that you might want to add sparingly will include queso, cheese, sour cream, and chips.

Chipotle can be as healthy or unhealthy as you make it.

That is one thing that appeals to many people about Chipotle.

It is customizable, and although the menu is limited, many people can find something to suit what they are looking for.


What Has Made Chipotle So Successful?

Indianapolis - Circa March 2019: Chipotle Mexican Grill Restaurant


Chipotle is very well known and also well loved by many.

With a limited menu and a fast-casual environment, some people might be left wondering why Chipotle has become so successful compared to other similar restaurants.


1. Highly Customizable

Although the menu is limited, there are so many options to customize your order at Chipotle.

Whether you are looking for a healthy salad or a burrito, you have the option to put certain toppings on the food.

If you are vegetarian, gluten-free, or just have a preference, you can surely find something on the menu that can be customized to your needs.


2. Limited Menu

The limited menu at Chipotle might be looked at as a downfall, but it is in reality a key to the success of the company.

They have a very limited number of items on their menu as well as limited ingredients.

The less food that they have to purchase means less food spoilage and waste.

It also allows Chipotle to spend money on fresher and better-quality food.


3. High-Quality Food

Due to the limited number of ingredients, Chipotle has emphasized fresh ingredients and sourcing food that has no added hormones as well as meat that has been raised humanely.

This is an added benefit to customers and has made them a sought-after restaurant for those that are more health conscious.


4. Quick Service

The limited menu has also contributed to quick service.

There are only a handful of items that customers can order, so those who are preparing the food will not have as many menu items to cook.

This leads to the ability to serve customers quickly and efficiently, which has contributed to the success of the restaurant.

Whether you order the food from the restaurant in person or online, you are almost always guaranteed to get quick but excellent service.


5. Reasonable Prices

Chipotle is known for having larger portion sizes, and many people often split a single meal into two meals which can make it more worthwhile for the cost.

Even after Chipotle has had to raise its prices on multiple occasions, they have continued to become increasingly successful.

Customers have stated that they know they will get their money’s worth when ordering food from Chipotle.



Chipotle is a fast-casual Mexican-American restaurant.

With a limited menu and fresh ingredients, it has become increasingly popular over the last several years.

Many people choose Chipotle as a go-to for not only a delicious meal but also an excellent choice for a healthier option even when you need something quick.

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