Watching the chain's fall from greatness has been like seeing a favorite childhood celebrity get a DUI. Such an avoidable mistake! Why'd you do it, buddy? But just as I still have misplaced affection for many of the fallen childhood stars I grew up loving (Lindsay Lohan deserves an Oscar for her performance in The Parent Trap), so do I still find myself hitting up Chipotle when the hunger pangs set in.
While everyone is busy avoiding Chipotle, I'm stoked that I can finally order a burrito during peak lunch hour without it taking up my entire break. Who knows? If it's slow enough, maybe I'll even work up the nerve to ask for a quesarito.
You can hack your way to a burrito bowl that's almost twice as big as the regular thing by asking for half-and-half of every ingredient you order. Then ask for two tortillas on the side, and feel the cashier's eyes on you as you try to surreptitiously roll a mega burrito yourself. The look of disdain in their eyes will be totally worth it after that first delicious bite.
Eating a burrito at Chipotle is like playing a game of Russian roulette. Will I get E. coli poisoning? Norovirus? Or a belly full of delicious burrito? These days there's no telling, but when you combine gambling and fast-casual Mexican food, you know I'll be there.
Try getting a vegan burrito anywhere else, and honestly, you'll probably be disappointed. But Chipotle has sofritas, the savory vegan nectar of the gods. OK, that admittedly sounds weird, but trust me, they're delicious. Add to that the fact that their beans and rice are vegan too, and you have just one more reason I can't keep myself away.
The company has totally committed itself to new, safer food handling protocols that will set it years ahead of the rest of the industry. Hermetically sealed cilantro that's gone through a "sanitary kill step"? I am so there for you.
Chipotle's guacamole has reached near legendary status, and I just don't trust the stuff from any other chain. It has even released its recipe, which proves it is using real, fresh ingredients. Sure, I could make the guac at home now that I have the recipe, but when mixed in an industrial-size vat, it somehow tastes better. Chipotle guac, I just can't quit you.
At other chains (that rhyme with "Nacho Smell"), you get low-quality yellow cheddar that literally refuses to melt. It makes you feel like you're eating tacos stuffed with cheese made from Play-Doh. At Chipotle? You get a handful of super-melty Monterey Jack. Not only does the melted cheese help keep your burrito together, but it also just tastes better than the cold, unmelted cheese found at other establishments. Next time you go, shell out the cash for extra cheese — it will change your life.
Sure, it ain't The Four Seasons' tearoom, but Chipotle has much better ambiance than any other chain I can get a quick burrito at. There are no glaring fluorescent lights seemingly brighter than the sun, no red plastic booths that give you a butt charley horse the second you sit down and no life-size clown cutouts that stare at you while you slowly lose your appetite/hard-earned sense of self-confidence. The sleek atmosphere at Chipotle makes it actually enjoyable to eat your meal in-house, so you don't have to rush back to work, where you'll inevitably spill pinto beans on your keyboard. And no one wants their boss to catch them licking guacamole off a mouse pad.
Chi-POTLE. The word flies across the room like a bullet, striking a hunger for burritos in the hearts of all who hear it uttered. Taco Bell, McDonald's, Pizza Hut — those clumsy names slip from my tongue like a rotten piece of meat compared to Chipotle, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my stomach. Chi-pot-le: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Chi. Pot. Le. Even Nabokov would approve.
Nothing gets to me like the story of an underdog. Chipotle rose from the ranks of other fast-casual dining establishments to maintain a near godlike status, but it has all come crashing down. The prestige? Gone. The commitment to sustainable ingredients? Gone. All that's left in the wake of its crisis is a handful of Monterey Jack and me, its most loyal fan. Chipotle, I've watched your fall, but I swear I'll never leave your side. As long as you don't change your guac recipe, that is.
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