Moes vs. Chipotle vs. Qdoba

Now look, I realize that this a bit of a touchy subject, but I am going to bring it up because 1) my position needs some clarification and 2) some of you guys are either out of your minds or are seriously misguided. Over the course of the last several years, no question has loomed larger amongst my group of friends here in Raleigh. No issue has caused more tension. No topic has been more hotly debated. For the most part, the debate has remained civil, save the time Daniel Renstrom punched me in the face over it. We all go to the one we like best; choosing our favorite on our own accord.  And, accordingly, the debate rages on in hopes that some kind of accord can be reached on on the issue at hand: who makes a better burrito?!?!!?

First, some background. I am uniquely qualified to pass judgment on this issue. My Latin-American heritage provides daily insight into the world of Mexican food. I grew up eating all kinds of spicy peppers, beans, meat, hominy and plantains (See…you don’t even know what those last two things are do you?….DO YOU?!?!!?!?).  My grandmother cooks the stuff better than any restaurant I have ever been to. In short, I know good stuff when I see it. I am not saying that you don’t. I am just saying that, compared to me, you really don’t.  Further, as anyone who knows me will attest, my experience is nothing short of vast. Since I moved to Raleigh, I have eaten at El Rodeo precisely 1,017 times. (A quick aside…at ten bucks a visit…that’s more than $10,000…wow). All this to say, I know what I am talking about.

Now, I am going to narrow this debate down to only two real competitors. Qdoba, God love ’em. They are trying hard. They start off in the hole because of their name. What the heck does “Qdoba” mean anyway? Not to be overlooked is that they do make some awesome Queso. And it’s true, Qdoba does make a good burrito. But do they make the cut? My friend Enzor will hate me for this, but not in my book and my book is  the only book that matters.

So, we are down to Moe’s and Chipotle. How about a quick  run-down of each….yes??…ok then…

How can you not love Moe’s. They are so friendly (WELCOME TO MOEE’SSS!!!). They have really creative names for their food: the Homewrecker, the Ugly Naked Guy, the Full Monty, the Art Vandalay (THESE PRETZELS ARE MAKING ME THIRSTY!!!) and my personal favorite, the Joey Bag of Doughnuts. You get free chips with anything that you buy. The  queso is decent. The cheese is yellow (who knows what kind it is). The salsa is lacking. The meat is sub par. The chicken is watery. The beef can, at times, be chewy. The beans are not bad. The cookies are good. And best of all, when you have to sign your credit card receipt, all the pens are sitting in that plastic cup with the uncooked rice….pretty awesome. And they have root beer.

So how about Chipotle. Less friendly. No creative names. No free chips. No queso. GREAT salsa. White cheese ( idea what kind). The meat is awesome. Chicken is chopped and seasoned. The beans are soft and tasty. The meat; seasoned to perfection and as tender as….well…something really tender. No cookies (lame). No pens in rice (also lame). Note, however, they too have root beer.

So how is one to decide?! Well friends, as the expert in all foods Mexican, let me tell you that burritos are serious business. When you go somewhere to get one, your priorities need to be right. You should be there for one reason only; to get a great burrito. You see, to eat one when its good, when its spicy, when your nose is running, when you need several refills of root beer, when you are not distracted by chips and cookies, when the meat is neatly chopped and seasoned, the beans are soft and tasty; yes, eating a good burrito is hard work, but having eaten a good burrito is nothing short of divine. For all of these reasons, the winner is, unequivocally, Chipotle. Moe’s is good. Nay, that is an injustice. Moe’s is great. But it’s too pop. They know they have an inferior product, so they jazz it up with cool names and boisterous greetings and pens in rice. All of these things are designed to distract you from the fact that they lack one thing: a kick-tail burrito. Chipotle just has better ingredients. That’s all there is to it. Moe’s is good, but if you want the real deal, it has to be Chipotle.

I hope that the masses will rest easy tonight knowing that the great controversy of our generation has been settled. If you think I am an idiot, leave me a comment and let me know. If you think Moe’s is better, leave me a comment and let me know. If you think the Armadillo Grill should have been included in this, leave me a comment and let me know. If you know what kind of cheese Moe’s or Chipotle has, leave me a comment and let me know, and if you want to go to El Rodeo, leave me a comment and let me know. I can be there in about three and  a half minutes.


18 thoughts on “Moes vs. Chipotle vs. Qdoba

  1. oh dearness no son! two words yes? two flippin words…..mamma (yes son i did…uh huh i did!)…citas! best flippin burritos in the land son.

    nonetheless, excellent post and i would concur that amongst these 3, chipotle wins hands down on taste and yes you forgot, architectural detail – all chipotle chains are king in their architectural marketing that moes + qdoba (?) do not come close. it is true. the use of corrugated metal on the inside and rusted sheet metal on the outside pushes the chipotle coolness factor to a whole notha level son….

    well played and written indeed!

  2. haha- You so called us Enzors out! haha- I do love me some Qdoba! I do not know what that means either…just I like queso on my burrito, that I dont have to pay extra for.

    Patricio, you and us Enzors are broke, we must go to the place that does not charge for the queso, and gives free chips and salsa. It is not about quality at this point, but the quantity for the price. I’ve only eaten Chipotle twice, and both times I distinctly remember watering eyes, running nose, I agree it’s hot. But I given that I can eat Qdoba twice on just under $10, and I would have to pay extra for my chips and queso anywhere else, the bargain is what is necessary right now.

  3. Great post…I wonder how you came up with such a fabulous topic. You forgot to mention the sauteed peppers which further proves the argument that Chipotle is the best, and while the menu item names at Moe’s are trendy and fun, it could cause some embarassment when you have to order items like the “Moo Moo Mr. Cow.”

  4. i have to say that Qdoba also takes last place in my book, for no other reason than the foodpoisoning they gave me the last time (and the last EVER time) i ate there. you may want to shoot me for this, but i have never been to Chipotle. Moe’s is a favorite. But I also like Salsaritas. Also, I do not order burritos. I like quesadillas. hmm, what now?

  5. Now that I live in the land that gave us the Chipotle I now that you’re NOT getting the top shelf product that we are here. It’s still great and far better than Qdoba but they know “how” to make that burrito here. It’s all about proportions, Patrick, you are correct. In summary of my rant, you are correct Chipotle is the best but can’t hold a candle to Illegal Pete’s and you folks coming to Denver for ThxGivg will experience for yourself. Pat! another reason to come out too!

  6. Qdoba’s does it for me if I want a burrito. I can’t stand the chicken and steak at Moe’s so I go with ground beef and chips when I go there.

    My Chipotle experience is limited to having only been once when I lived in San Antonio, but really, living in San Antonio, there is no need to visit these burrito type joints. The real thing is always better. Oh, and that chicken mole burrito that Qdobas has is awesome.

  7. patrick. bueno.

    as much as i appreciate your analysis of this most important topic, I believe that your conclusion is misguided.

    the main reason…to me is obvious. you immediately dismissed the #1 contender (Qdoba). Your classic straw-man tactic with Moe’s vs Chipotle must be called out. Of course Chipotle will win against Moe’s. Any place that thinks it’s OK to serve watery chicken is doing something wrong. Why is the chicken watery? Who is pouring the water all over it? (Salsarita’s does the same thing)

    Water chicken makes for a water burrito (or salad)…causing the tortilla to tear prematurely. it’s irrefutable.

    The real competition is between Chipotle and Qdoba. both grill their meats. both use romaine lettuce. both have excellent salsas. Qdoba has excellent queso, chipotle has excellent guacamole.

    I fail to understand how Moe’s makes it into the discussion…”welcome to moe’s. your food will be watered down, but we’ll give you a few colored chips to distract you.”

    no thanks, i won’t let my intelligence be insulted.

  8. Well since I was called out in the Patricio’s post I will leave my two cents worth right now. Not been to salsaritas. Moe’s is ok and that is the extent that I will give it. If I was starving I would go there. Chipotle is pretty good I have only been there twice, once was not a good experience and the second was ok. So letting everyone know my vast experience I will vote for Qdoba, or as an old co-worker would put it every Friday when we went there; “Q-DUB baby what are you thinking, nothing beats the DUB.”

  9. Chipotle = McDonalds.

    Enough said.

    Go to your local mexican restaurant, get better food for less money, and all the free chips you want. (and most of them are quicker than the ‘fast’ food places).

  10. Thanks for this great insight into the Burriot available at American Fast food joints. Yet, could you tell us, with your vast knowledge, experience and Latin American heritage, how this compares to a burrito made by your grandma? At first glance, it doesn’t seem that the burrito’s in Mexico would or should look like anything available at these stores. Is that true, or is that my misconception

  11. Okay. I have yet to eat at Chipotle. I frequent Moe’s almost three times a week. However, since I moved away to go to college there is no Moe’s. A real error that I didn’t look into when making my college decision. Non the less I have been hesitant to eat at Chipotle for a few reasons. One being the fact the my loyalty is to Moe’s. I love it there and its a sentimental thing, its just my place. I feel like I would almost be betraying Moe’s by eating at Chipotle but sooner or later, maybe even today, I’m sure I’ll cave. The other reason, and it took me a lot of time to admit this, but from what I’ve heard Chipotle may actually be better. And that hurts. By avoiding eating there I would never have to admit it. But we’ll see. I’ll go in biased, but if in fact Chipotle is better. I’ll admit it.

  12. This discussion is awesome. Great debate! Clearly, I’m biased – so I’ll just say it – Welcome to Moe’s!! @Lance – hang in there man, who knows – maybe we’ll open a Moe’s near your school. Where do you go??

  13. I just like tasty food and a good deal. But I especially like making your salsa super spicy (Moe’s hot sauce vs the gross tobasco at Chipotle’s) I also like lettuce and sautéd veggies and cucumber!! and olives (I’m a bit obsessed with olives) and fresh jalapeño peppers. The chips are basically a vessel for me to eat 20 lbs of a mix of medium and hot salsa. And when I get my burrito naked (no tortilla) I pile on more salsa – okay, I really love salsa.

    And I really love Moe’s

  14. I couldn’t agree more about Chipotle! They win, hands down, any day of the week with both hands tied behind their backs. I absolutely LOVE all three of these chains and Chipotle was the last of them that I discovered. My only difference with you is I would rank Moe’s as last, despite the free chips and awesome salsa options. They’re ingredients are just consistently poor quality. Even still, they are great, Qdoba is better, but Chipotle reigns supreme.

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