Overrated: Chipotle Mexican Grill -- loud, fat and not so cheap


I know that some of my fellow bloggers over on BloggingStocks love Chipotle as a stock, salivating at its growth potentional. However, here I'm writing about the food and presentation and ambience of the Chipotle experience, and frankly, I think it's very overrated.

I'll start with the ambience. Eating in a Chipotle is like grabbing lunch in a high school metal shop. The hard surfaces creates an echo chamber that makes table talk a hearing test. The chairs and tables, welded into place like a bus station cafeteria, are not conducive to fine dining. I suspect these attributes are all designed to keep the dining room turning over.

The food speaks well to the American penchant for huge portions of carbohydrates. The burrito, for example, brings three carbs together -- a shell of wheat stuffed with rice and beans. Add the meat of your choice (plop), salsa (plop), sour cream (plop), guacamole (plop) cheese (sprinkle) and lettuce (sprinkle), and you have a meal all wrapped up in a burrito the size of a bed and breakfast pillow.

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So what do we have in this burrito, the ordinary lunch of Chipotle customers? We have 1,250 calories with 51 grams of fat. (A full stick of butter has only 91 grams of fat). You could have a Big Mac and fries and still consume almost 500 calories less.

I don't quibble that Chipotle's burritos are tasty, and of course a savvy diner could lower the calorie count by choosing options such as the Burrito Bowl. However, the menu is extremely limited; after a dozen meals there, I'm bored with the same old same old.

The price point is a 'tweener, too; not as cheap as Taco Bell, not as nice as a sit-down Mexican Restaurant where they wait on tables. Without a drive-up window, I see this chain as limited in a number of ways. But now Chipotle says it may raise prices, so that equation may change for the worse.

Lacking ambience, variety, or exceptional value, I think Chipotle is valarado excesivamente.