Chipotle has somewhat of a cult following in many parts of the country. People are gaga about the brand. Perhaps the rage is fueled by the companies effort to serve quality food at an affordable price? Or maybe it’s the simplistic, modern design of the restaurants? Of maybe if you’re frugal like us, you appreciate the fact that their business model eliminates the need for that pesky tip. I don’t know, why do you love Chipotle?
Unfortunately for fans and addicts alike, there is bad new. The company has decided to raise food prices for the first time in three years. Prices are supposed to increase about 5% at stores across the country in the next month. In light of that news, I thought I’d share a quick few tips on how to maximize your value while eating at Chipotle. After years of BOGOs and practice, The Cash Cow Couple has mastered the art of getting more for less.
In case you don’t know, Chipotle operates like a backwards buffet. You stand in line and shout across a small counter at the person making your order. You tell them what exactly you want and they slap it together in record time. You then pay at the counter and go stuff your face.
There are two different forces at play when constructing the perfect Chipotle entree.
1) While you are able to design the meal, the employee has at least partial control over portion size. Anyone who has eaten at Chipotle knows this. Sometimes you get a stingy employee who makes it their mission to give you as little meat as possible, other times you’ll get nearly double portions of everything. It’s a wild game for sure, and not one for the faint of heart.
2) Because you are in control of the ingredients and design of your order, you also have the ability to influence the portion size. This can be done in a number of ways, and that is the focus of this article. Even though you can’t control the bean counting (literally) employee, you can construct a behemoth of an entree with our tips. But be prepared to speak up. If you’re afraid to ask for anything at the counter, you’ll be slaughtered.
Let’s get started.
Make a New Friend
In light of what I’ve share above about some employees, this is the logical place to begin. When you finally make it to the counter, smile and ask them how their day is going. Ask if they’re always this busy, and then express how tired you would be if you were in their position. Then proceed to…
Order the Bowl, Not the Burrito
The burrito is what made Chipotle famous, and is what most people choose to order. Don’t be most people. The bowl is a larger storage container for all those upcoming ingredients. If you’re really desperate to get those grains, you can ask for a tortilla on the side. For Free.
Beginning with the burrito shell is a recipe for disaster at the counter. If you continue ordering the burrito after obtaining this knowledge, you are wrong.
Extra bonus: There are a few secret menu items that you can order at Chipotle. The most significant of Chipotle hacks is a play on one of these items: the quesa-rrito. If you order this item, they will wrap your burrito with a cheese quesadilla. It’s the only reason to get a burrito instead of a bowl. But note, there are mixed reports on additional charges for this privilege. Some places apparently just charge for a normal burrito while others will attempt to charge you for both items! Please report your finding with a comment.
Once you’ve decided on the storage medium, it’s time to decide on rice. This is easy really. If you want more, just ask for it.
Next come the beans. You’ll be offered a choice of black or pinto beans. But why choose when you can have both? Now there are two ways to go about this decision.
1) You immediately confess your intentions with, “can I get both black and pinto please,” But if you do that, many employees feel inclined to give half scoops of each. Not always, but many times.
2) You can indicate a preference for one, wait for delivery onto your entree, then proceed to request the next. For example, when first asked you would say, “Black beans, please.” Wait for it, then bam, “Actually, can I get pinto on that as well.” This method ensures a double portion of beans, and a symphony of magical sounds while enjoying the meal (I’m just kidding around).
Keep Your Eyes Peeled
You may or may not have noticed the bowl of vegetables sitting next to the rice and beans. Sometimes it’s nearly hidden. I’m referring to the grilled fajita vegetable medley which should be a part of every meal. Very few people ever ask for these, because they think there is some sort of extra charge, but there is not. You can request these veggies with every entree.
As an added bonus, if they are stingy with the vegetables, simply speak up and say, “Can I please have a bit more vegetables?” And so it will be.
1/2 + 1/2 = 4/2?
Now We’re getting into the big leagues. It’s possible to order 1/2 meat + 1/2 meat at Chipotle. An example would be to request, “half chicken and half steak.” Do this, and you’ll simply pay for a single portion of the more expensive meat. However, things are never so black and white. There are no “1/2″ scoops at Chipotle, there are only scoops. Most of the time, requesting 1/2 of each meat will result in close to a full portion of each.
Be sure to make your request clear to avoid confusion and unnecessary charges. You can’t pull a fast one on them here like you did with the beans.
Down The Home-Stretch
After the meat comes the extra goodies. It’s time to get wild. With salsas, you must use a similar method to the beans. If you simply rattle off, “Can I get medium, hot, and pico?” you’re sure to end up with half ladles full of each.
Instead, list one at a time, pause and allow the scoop, then proceed to the next. You’ll thank me when your next bowl is exploding with flavor.
Next, opt for cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. They’re often stingy with the dairy products, so be ready to speak up and ask for more of each.
End With Value
You’ve nearly finished the good fight. You’re now staring down that massive pile of food with just one decision left, “Do you want guac with that?”
Being the Cash Cow Couple, we have to make a strong recommendation here on the guacamole. You have to avoid their offering. It’s outrageously priced at nearly $2 per scoop.
If you’re in love with that creamy green goodness, buy it at the store and bring it with you. They don’t mind, and neither will your wallet.
Celebrate and Consider Round 2
After that intense struggle, it’s time to enjoy the spoils of your hard work. But first, just look at it. Observe the sheer magnitude of your entree. Right then and there, before you devour it, commit it to memory so you can replicate this whole exercise in the future.
If you’re a Chipotle regular, you might consider buying gift cards. They frequently run a promotion where you buy $30 or more in gift cards and receive a free entree. That’s a pretty good return on investment. You can also choose to place future orders online or on your smartphone to avoid the lines altogether. However, doing so ensures a puny burrito (bowl) that you’ll be ashamed to eat.
P.S. You can do this at Qdoba or any other related burrito chain too.
What do you think? Have you used these methods before?