Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

How to Eat at Chipotle

When you walk into Chipotle, don’t look ashamed or frightened. You’re eating some righteous food, so own up to it. Stride purposely to the first stop at the Chipotle station and in a commanding voice say: “I’ll have a burrito with black beans and steak.”

Other appropriate orders: barbacoa and steak mix or just barbacoa. To paraphrase Anthony Bourdain for a second (who wouldn’t be caught dead in Chipotle), chicken is for people who don’t know what they want.

Also, if you decide to order a burrito bowl, or God forbid, the tacos, then you need to reevaluate where you’re getting your meal. This isn’t some namby-pamby Taco Bell and there are rules. Rule number one is: you can’t half-ass the caloric intake.

Vegetarian Chipotle orders are as ridiculous as they sound, and should be avoided at all costs. If you’re a vegetarian, good for you, but stay the fuck outta my Chipotle. There’s probably some refuse they feed rabbits up the street.

Feel free to add the peppers and onions to your burrito as well, but always include meat [insert lesbian joke to spur certain commentators here]. Also, if you want some extra meat, GO FOR IT! Never shy away from asking for more, as they are 100% of the time amenable to more. You may have to pay for it, but we’ll discuss that later.

In terms of the black vs. pinto bean debate that’s been raging for centuries, pinto beans have always struck me as being too healthy. Also, black beans taste better. I’m too lazy to look up the actual science behind my intuition, but if anyone can prove that pinto beans are actually worse for you than black beans, I will gladly change my Chipotle ritual and you can even read the eulogy at my funeral for my heart failure at 50.

After they’ve added your peppers, onions, steak and black beans, don’t let up. You’ve only just begun. Generally, you now move down the stations, and so you must speak to another employee. That means you need to impress him or her with your confidence all over again, like you did with your commanding voice at the first station. I hope I’m not the first one to tell you this, but don’t throw your jilted Spanish at the poor employees. I don’t care if you spent six months in Spain doing some hot man or woman after taking “like the best Molly EVER” at some rave. You’re not Spanish. If you do speak Spanish as a legitimate first language, go for it. (You can only claim Spanish as a first language if you were born in a country where it is the official or most-spoken language, or you learned it from your parents around the house and learned English later because you live in America. Or I guess England and/or Canada.)

This is the proper way to go about ordering from the second (and generally final) station. This is also where you really come into your own and they’ll respect you more for it.

“I’d like some corn." Wait until the corn as been added.

“And some tomato." Wait until the tomato has been scooped and added. Your burrito should look pretty monstrous already, but we have more to add.

“Some hot sauce please…”

This is where things get emphatic.



Cheese and sour cream are the two things you must ask for extra. There’s no clearly defined rule about this, so take advantage of their ambiguity and ask for more. I do this with the meat as well, but then beg off when they inform me it will cost extra. Some day they will not mention this and I will get free extra meat.

This is a big moment here. Maybe add a bit of lettuce, but the real issue of contention here is the guacamole. For all you clowns that swear by the “really fresh guacamole” they make “right in front of you” at your over-priced Dos Caminos, then maybe you want some guacamole on the side here, so you can sniff at it and make foodie comments about how it’s so bland, or there aren’t enough tomatos and onions, yadda yadda yadda. When I have the money (not often), I ask for guacamole even though it’s ridiculous that they charge you an extra $2.50 for it. I also have them add it to my burrito. I will then politely ask them to mush everything together. Just ask—many people forget this.

After everything has been added, your chipoista (I just made that up) should have trouble fitting everything into the burrito. If the burrito tears and they have to add a second tortilla, CONGRATULATIONS, you ordered the proper way.

And if you've impressed the manager so much that he says “That’s a big fuckin’ Burrito” as you’re paying, then not only have you done your job well, but I’d like to go out to lunch with you. It was the proudest day of my life. This manager watches burritos being made all day long, so if you have impressed him/her to the extent of f-bomb dropping, you know you’re good.

I know a lot of people are hesitant to ask for them to mix everything, or add something extra, but if you can’t take command of a food-related situation, you probably shouldn’t be going to Chipotle anyway. They’ll respect you less if you stay mum. It’s a man eat dog world out there (quite possibly literally), and if you’re not prepared to do this right, you should just hit some deli salad bar and stay out of my way.

Spencer Lund is an editor at a start-up company, so is extremely poor and only has time for haphazard freelancing. He has a Tumblr that he plans on deleting. You also shouldn't follow him on Twitter since most of what he Tweets is depressing.

Photo by Aranami from Flickr.

101 Comments / Post A Comment

HiredGoons (#603)

"I don’t care if you spent six months in Spain doing some hot man or woman after taking “like the best Molly EVER” at some rave."

aaaaaaand it's suddenly 2003 in my brain again…

jaimealyse (#647)


(Except, tagwriter, this sort of food isn't actually so diabetes-inducing. Look at all that protein and fat!)

your (vegetarian) comment-area nutrition pedant

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

Too much fat in the diet aggravates diabetes.

jaimealyse (#647)

Shitty carbohydrates are a way bigger culprit, though.

elegantfaker (#1,646)

@Polly Peachum: Why are you leaving so many negative-nelly comments about DELICIOUS BURRITOS?! Are you some kind of skinny bitch bitch or something? Shut up already. We get it, you hate chipotle and fat people. Go away.

deepomega (#1,720)

There are coworkers of mine who hate (HATE) Chipotle and I can't wrap my brain around it.

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

Could it be that it's lousy?

The portions are huge, but it's awful. I went there one night when I had to pull an all-nighter, i.e., low standards time. I threw it out after three bites.

BadUncle (#153)

San Franciscans tend to loath it for being made of faux.

Multiphasic (#411)

Let me take this opportunity to (further) slag Dos Caminos.

When marketing yourself as a San Francisco taqueria, you basically can claim any single joint as your influence EXCEPT fucking Gordo's.

'Cause when I get homesick, I really want to remember the Inner fucking Sunset.

sharilyn (#4,599)

San Franciscans have an abundance of luscious homegrown taquerias to choose burritos from. Here in NYC, Chipotle is almost as good as it gets. But the frist thing I do after disembarking in SF is hightail it to Taqueria Azteca on Church St, where they make my favorite burritos in all the world.

Multiphasic (#411)

Is the Great Debate still over El Farolito vs. La Taq vs. Cancun, or am I living in 2004?

Multiphasic (#411)

Is the Great Debate still over Blur vs. Pulp vs. Oasis, or am I living in… yeah, this would go on forever.

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

"It was the proudest day of my life."
Let me be the first to commiserate with you. You have a sadly impoverished existence. And you're fat. Or will be in the near future.

garge (#736)

When I was a waitress, I had a favorite customer who would come in about once a month. He would order a bowl of black bean chili (which came with a corn muffin), a veggie burger, and something else (that varied, usually off of the specials menu). The first time I nearly stopped him, because it was enough food for two large men (big portions) and I was concerned about cost even (because once upon a time, $20 on lunch for one person in Cleveland was inconceivable to me), and then curiously watched this lean, petite, retirement-aged man who had extremely polite manners eat everything he ordered to completion. The second time I had to say something in awe, and he told me that he only eats one meal a day. He was also an excellent tipper, and I get a bit misty thinking about him, because he was so nice and I never got to say goodbye. Anyway, don't jump the commiserating gun, there is love in food service!

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

That's sad. I'm glad your customer enjoyed his meal.

Good article for people who don't understand the hatred of Starbucks.

BadUncle (#153)

There are rules for eating fast food? Did Denton buy the Awl?

Aatom (#74)

At least it's not a listicle.

It's funny. For all the complaining about Gawker that goes on here, and for all the historical resignation notes of spiritual wonderment condemning gawker for eating the souls of the young, the top navigation bar right now – thursday morning – is one sickly-sweet pseudo-sedaris story about thanksgiving coupled with a tiramisu recipe; A NYT style-section lite piece about how to eat take out food and be proud of it, a list of top five commercial jingles, an ichat about football and arbys, and a weird kind of personal narrative about the kindle.
So as much as Gawker was mean, and The Awl wants to be the opposite of that, it sort of seems like this place is veering towards the saccharine a little bit.

BadUncle (#153)

I was just being a jerk. I prefer the Awl's articles because they are almost always well-written and interesting, if not always my sack of beans.

spanish bombs (#562)

Guess what! The black beans at Chipotle are indeed healthier than the pinto beans. This is because the pinto beans are made with pork fat or bacon of some kind, while the black beans are vegetarian. You lose!

percolator (#1,721)

Yep, black beans are higher in fiber too.

oudemia (#177)

Yep. Oopsie! Angry post writer picked the vegetarian option!

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Does anyone from Boston want to rehash the Anna's/Boca Grande/El Pelon/Chipotle/Qdoba debate with me?

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

ANNA'S. There is no question about this.

Smitros (#5,315)

I trust Qdoba lost.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@walls: Call me

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

This is mostly because my friends and I would cut last period in high school and scamper down Mass Ave to Anna's. Ahh, delinquent memories.

garge (#736)

I think they are all terrible, but I will cast my vote to El Pelon as a memento mori.

The correct answer is Baja Betty's.

mrschem (#1,757)

Oh no! I went there once. Their burritos are the size of infants.

iantenna (#5,160)

as a snobby californian i'm gonna go out on a limb and say that they're all terrible.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

California: wrong on weed, wrong on burritos

alison (#14)

Anna's!!! Thanks for making me nostalgic for Davis Square.

LondonLee (#922)

Anna's for me too, I often drunkenly stopped in at the Davis Sq. one in a vain late-night attempt to soak up some of the booze inside me.

gumplr (#66)

This seems as fitting a place as any: RIP Chef Chang's.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

Am I the only poor fool who had reason to frequent the Brookline Anna's locations? There's a whole other side of the river, folks!

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

When I went to Coolidge Corner, I usually, um, went to Boca Grande.

(or real food! or sort-of-real food! long live Zathmary's.)

@boy: No, and it's weird for me be reading about people going to other ones. I'm so old I went to the Anna's near Summit Ave. when it was the only one. (And I sort of feel like I'm the only one who's ever even heard of Baja Betty's. It's not a chain, and located in Brookline Village, which I feel like no one goes to unless they live there.)

@walls: Man, I remember Zathmary's. I liked that place. Although the shady circumstances under which it closed kind of sullied my memories.

mrschem (#1,757)

Both of my favorite taquerias burned down within years of each other. Tapatia's in Somerville and El Pelon in the Fens. :(

@Boy, you're not. I lived down the street from the one in Coolidge Corner. Good memories, good memories.

Bittersweet (#765)

Anna's. Davis Square nostalgia gets me every time.

(We went to Cafe Ole this summer with friends. Good stuff, but not really in the Anna's/Chipotle dining experience.)

Bittersweet (#765)

@boy: no, I went to the Brookline Anna's too (lived in Newton before moving to the exurbs). No preference for either side of the river, just fond memories of being a poor grad student in Somerville.

@major: think you're right about Brookline Village. Lived 5 min. from there for years and never once went there.

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

@major: What a relief. Summit Ave was my go-to in my college days. And fortunately, even though I'm now a soulless yuppie sheep living downtown, I can still get my fix at the relatively new Beacon Hill/West End location.

You might be right about Brookline Village. Although I've taken at least half a dozen girls on first dates to Matt Murphy's (which is apparently close for renovations these days?)

@boy: It's funny, despite living in different parts of Brookline for 10 of the last 14 years, I've never been to Matt Murphy's. This even despite the fact that my roommates in grad school used to go there all the time. For the life of me I can't remember why I never went. I also never went with them to the Cask 'N Flagon, which they liked, but I have no regrets about that. I certainly remember going to other bars with them, so it's not like I just hated bars or something.

By the way, for cheap but delicious food, living right near the Summit Ave. T stop was the best thing ever – Anna's, Rod Dee, and the Schwarma King across the street. I really miss that neighborhood.

mrschem (#1,757)

I love Matt Murphy's but it is MAD expensive and they are a cash only business.

mrschem (#1,757)

Its almost finished. Yay!

BosBurrito (#8,602)

I was born and raised in Boston, but left for good in 2005. My favorite burritos in the city came from push carts in the Transportation building down in Park Square. We even hired them to cater a company event at one point.

I did like the Boca Grande outside Harvard Square, but rarely made it over there. Those carts kept me fed, though, for the better part of two years in Boston.

wallsdonotfall (#6,378)

Wait, you say you can mix the meat choices?

iantenna (#5,160)

their rice is that white for a reason.

Multiphasic (#411)

I'm with you. Sometimes I, too, have the irresistible urge to troll the internet for San Franciscans ready to be complete dicks to me.

Multiphasic (#411)

I mean, you're basically wrong about everything but the chicken.

iantenna (#5,160)

as an east bay resident ready to be a complete dick i take offense.

Art Yucko (#1,321)


acey duce (#1,423)

Um, you forgot, "Dump shitloads of the Chipotle Tabasco on it." NOT regular Tabasco because that is terrible. I actually check and make sure they have some Chipotle Tabasco before I order. I once got tacos and they had no Chipotle Tabasco left so I basically took one bite and dumped it.

macartney (#1,889)

THIS. Chipotle Tabsco or go home. And use at least three-quarters of the bottle to be exact. If all of them less than half full, you must request new ones. The employees will point out the existing bottles and silently judge you, but eventually will provide you with new ones (usually stored in the cabinets underneath the soda machine). If you're having your burrito to go, feel free to take a bottle along with you. They're like ketchup packets, you know.

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

"(You can only claim Spanish as a first language if you were born in a country where it is the official or most-spoken language, or you learned it from your parents around the house and learned English later because you live in America. Or I guess England and/or Canada.)"
In case you didn't understand what it meant to speak Spanish as one's primary language ….

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Have you met Jeff Barea?

cactus jack (#8,515)

According to's nutritional states, 171g of pinto beans has 245 calories, while 172g of black beans only has a lame 227.

So, pintos make fatter.

Polly Peachum (#8,145)

What's 20-something calories among amigos?

A.R. Chrisman (#2,964)

I'm glad this finally showed up. I've been avoiding this restaurant for the past 17 years.

HiredGoons (#603)

You forgot about the part where you get beer with lunch.

hman (#53)

Those red baskets are just not big enough.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

I can't believe I am going to quote South Park:

"If you're like other Americans you love to eat Chipotle, but you hate all those terrible blood stains in your underwear. Well now there's a solution!"

iantenna (#5,160)

there are so many things wrong with that burrito but the most glaring is that the pork is the only thing with pork fat in it.

gumplr (#66)

There is a website for checking the caloric and fatty content of any Chipotle permutation, AND it's got a stellar commentariat to boot.

I do order the chicken; however, I also ask for extra cheese, so I'm not entirely compromising the exacting requirements of procuring food from this establishment.

Either way, I think I'm adequately on record around here as not liking food to begin with.

WellThen (#1,251)

"Vegetarian Chipotle orders are as ridiculous as they sound, and should be avoided at all costs."
Lies. The black bean burritos are perfectly good. But I can only eat half of one in a sitting, so I know I am already a failure in your eyes. (Agree with you about burrito bowls though.)

Sergio Hernandez (#3,273)

I am slightly proud/ashamed to say I've been to every Chipotle in New York, so if anyone wants to know how each location ranks in terms of quality compared to the others… I will tell you, but I will be embarrassed about it.

And also, yes: vegetarian burritos and tacos are bullshit.

garge (#736)

Sergio, we may have different tastes, but I know we would get on swimmingly.

gumplr (#66)

Also different price points, right?
I know 31st and Park is fifty cents cheaper than what the FIT kids pay at 26th and 7th.

Art Yucko (#1,321)

Yeah I don't really get it either.
You people (COUGH: S.F.) wouldn't last two weeks in the Midwest. What do they put in the burritos out there? Gold dust? I've had Some really good burritos in S.F., sure. But they weren't any better or more memorable than Chipotle burritos I've gotten locally.
Maybe it's because the Local Chipotles hire Mexicanos who actually know how to cook the stuff right? *And I say this as a part-time Mexican myself.

Multiphasic (#411)

Ha! No.

An SF burrito that tastes like it came from Chipotle is, indeed, a totally forgettable burrito. You're basically arguing that you can't tell the difference between KC barbecue and KC Masterpiece.

Multiphasic (#411)

To put that another way, you're not arguing that Chipotle is good, you're arguing that the burritos you had were kind of crap.

iantenna (#5,160)

i'll let you in on a little secret, the best san francisco burrito is actually an oakland taco. #teamtaco

I don't understand why anyone would ever want to wrap 7 days worth of food in a giant flour tortilla to cram down their throats. But I hate flour tortillas with anything other than butter and jam or fried then dusted with sugar and cinnamon, so…

Art Yucko (#1,321)

"Yeah I don't really get it either"= @Deepo's comment re: people who hate on it. ^

kt (#5,981)

Don't EVER ask for them to mush everything together. YES I realize that this results in a weird compartmentalization of the ingredients, but the inconvenience of being forced to eat your burrito like a cartoon character partaking of corn-on-the-cob, taking in shallow little bites of each ingredient before going in for the Big Chew, is less Bad than the Badness of asking the salsa-sour cream guy to get out a fork and mix up the contents of your precious fajita burrito. Such a small thing that definitely makes you look like the biggest nutsack on earth.

Always get the fajita vegetables. Never get the beans. Always get the guacamole, Chipotle is not edible to a degree that justifies the money otherwise. These are my thoughts.

NinetyNine (#98)

"The like closing tags, generally."

shudder (#5,913)

Chipotle is mucho $$$$$.

mouth almighty (#8,116)

If it ain't carne asada fries, I am not interested. #teamsocal

GabeM (#8,526)

heh, reminds me of when I worked at Chrysler Financial and a bunch of us would order take out from Chipotle. We'd all sit at the cafeteria table trying to eat these massive burritos without trying to look like pigs; then after we were done shoving food down our throats we would not get any work done for the rest of the day as we were too bloated and exhausted that we could not be bothered with meager incentives to resolve shitty accounts. I was way more preoccupied with not falling asleep at my desk and trying to look as productive as possible as I looked all glass eyed through my computer screen. Ah workplace accountability and big lunches, I only miss one of them.

Man, I'm so lame that I don't even know what a Molly IS.

Aatom (#74)

I'm ashamed to admit the same thing. And I've actually BEEN to a rave in Madrid.

mikla (#5,930)

ask for half steak/half chicken. they will always add more than necessary, and THERE, my friend, is your free meat.

maebefunke (#154)


alorsenfants (#139)

What — next up, a conversation about how awesome Five Guys is?

Tim Donnelly (#6,230)

What the hell gives meat eaters more of a right to Chipotle than vegetarians? Stay the f at your Burger King and enjoy your heart attack. Chipotle is the most veg-friendly chain (see their new vegan chicken burrito getting a test run in Chelsea right now). Also, a college newspaper from 2001 called to tell you this story was already three months overdue.

Luke Smith (#5,891)

This makes me so glad to live in San Francisco …

elegantfaker (#1,646)

WTF, Spain?

MEXICO. Burritos come from Mexico. Or Arizona or something.

commenter (#8,548)

arrogant meat-eating tripe

Andrew Piccone (#7,185) Please use this as an additional resource in your Chipotle ordering.

Cavale Fnord (#6,817)

if you never try a barbacoa crunchy taco you're missing out.

niltiac (#8,525)

Black beans and pinto beans are pretty similar in terms of nutrition but the pinto beans at Chipotle are actually done in pork juice so they're probably worse for you.

I eat meat but I think the vegetarian options at Chipotle are very good.

@Polly Peachum I think your loathing of Chipotle is misplaced. As far as fast food goes, it's actually very good. Everything is fresh and high quality and they have good ethical standards (not just because they say so – it's also been reviewed by the likes of Peter Singer and Jim Mason). It's better quality than a lot of stuff you'd get in the Mission in SF, though admittedly more expensive as well.

MollyBloomberg (#1,169)

All this really passive-aggressive conversation about a rather benign topic reminds me of Thanksgiving. Hi mom!

rustyschwartz (#8,728)

This is the worst thing I've ever read on The Awl.

Don't condemn the burrito bowl. You definitely get more bang for your buck. Plus, you're free to choose what you want to eat, when you want to eat it. A piece or two of steak? More rice? Fork away! And I ask for a burrito on the side. All for the same price as a burrito.

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