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Battle of the Mexican grills

Being the trendy college student that I am, I’m always looking for trendy places to find delicious sustenance. And now that these newfangled high-end fast food chains are becoming so popular these days, I decided to dive in and experience them for myself.

The subjects at hand? Chipotle and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

And I must say “

If burritos from Chipotle and Qdoba were evidence in a court trial, I would gladly face five years in prison for evidence tampering to taste those succulent burritos.

In other words, they’re quite tasty.

My first excursion in pursuit of deliciousness took me to Chipotle Mexican Grill on East Wooster Street.

Based on my experience there, Chipotle seems to be a speed-oriented “gourmet burrito” place. With a supremely simple and easy-to-read menu broken down into instruction-like steps (order “this” with “these” and add “some of this” on top “), and a streamlined approach to customer service designed to expedite the burrito ordering process as much as possible, Chipotle is definitely focused on speedy burrito assembly.

Heck, the place is so “on-the-go” minded that they barely have any in-store seating for people to eat the old-fashioned way. You know ” sitting down at a table.

The menu is ridiculously slim as well. Although a few more food items would be ideal, Chipotle is focused on speedy gourmet food with a simplified ordering process, so the whole burritos and tacos thing works well.

A three-tone color scheme (scarlet, black and white/sliver) adds a splash of color to the “industrial-interior-meets-native-Mexican” d’eacute;cor scheme, and the outdoor tables are a nice touch.

But it’s the food that counts.

After being served a most tasty fajita burrito in a double-wrapped tortilla (in less than 60 seconds, to boot!) for a little over $5, I was greeted by a flavor explosion (no, not literally) of different ingredients all coming together to make the best darn overstuffed burrito I’ve had in a long time.

The prognosis?

I approve. Those Chipotle people make a painfully delicious burrito (in a good way).

Afterwards, I visited the Qdoba Mexican Grill on Main Street to see how their burritos chalk up to Chipotle.

Upon walking into the restaurant, my first visual impressions gave me the idea that Qdoba has the same focus on speed that Chipotle advertises so proudly, only Qdoba is more directed towards dining in. With a few organized rows of benches and tables arranged in the front of the place, Qdoba is definitely a better place to sit down and eat a gargantuan burrito (no offense to Chipotle, but their tables are a wee bit too small for me).

The menu for Qdoba is much like an expanded version of Chipotle’s offerings: whereas Chipotle focuses on burritos and tacos, Qdoba offers those items as well as foodstuffs like salads, quesadillas, nachos and even kids meals. Qdoba has a more family-esque feel to it, as evidenced by its menu offerings.

Interior-wise, the decorative scheme is a bit less cutting-edge corrugated steel and more southwestern-style earth tones and non-minimal signage. Whereas Chipotle almost felt like a burrito factory, Qdoba felt like an actual restaurant. But don’t get me wrong; I like the industrial stylings of Chipotle just as much.

And then came the food.

And it was awesome. However, I’m pretty sure I had a severe case of burrito-consumption deja-vu during my visit to Qdoba, because my second fajita burrito was as equally gut-wrenchingly scrumptious as the first! Not to sound like someone who can’t make up his mind, but my burrito from Qdoba was as equally delicious from the one I had at Chipotle!

Sure, the peppers were a wee bit overdone, and they didn’t use enough cilantro in the rice for my taste, (at Chipotle, they use a good amount of cilantro to season the rice), but it was still an ambrosia-class burrito.

The final word?

Supremo. Qdoba burritos are big, steamy and overloaded with tasty goodness.

All in all, I really couldn’t find too many differences in the two different burritos I bought. Aside from minor ingredient differences, both places make some incredibly incredible burritos.

For the six of you who haven’t had a Chipotle or Qdoba burrito yet, get out to one of the stores and get busy eating; you won’t regret it.

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