Chipotle Menu PricesAverage Prices
|Chips & Queso||$3.70||+$0.25 +7.25%|
|Chips & Guacamole||$3.70||+$0.25 +7.25%|
|Mexican Coca-Cola||$2.94||- -|
|Large Chips & Large Guacamole||$5.98||- -||1|
|Kid's Quesadilla||$4.05||- -|
|Kid's Build Your Own||$5.08||- -|
Whole30® Salad Bowl With Chicken
Supergreens, chicken, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa and guacamole.
Keto Salad Bowl
Romaine lettuce, carnitas, tomatillo-red chili salsa, guacamole, cheese.
Whole30® Salad Bowl With Carnitas
Supergreens, carnitas, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa and guacamole.
Paleo Salad Bowl
Romaine lettuce, barbacoa, fajita veggies, tomatillo-green chili salsa, guacamole.
Sofritas (plant-based protein) with brown rice, black beans, fresh tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa and lettuce.
Vegetarian Salad Bowl
Supergreens, brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, and guacamole
High Protein Bowl
White rice, black beans, chicken (full portion), steak (full portion), tomatillo-red salsa, cheese, and shredded romaine lettuce.
|Side of Guacamole||$2.24||- -|
|Chips & Fresh Tomato Salsa||$2.06||- -|
|Chips & Queso Blanco||$3.72||- -|
|Large Chips & Large Queso Blanco||$5.98||- -|
|Chips & Roasted Chili-Corn Salsa||$2.06||- -|
|Large Queso & Large Chips||$5.92||- -|
|Side of Queso||$2.24||+$0.19 +9.27%|
|Chips & Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa||$2.06||- -|
|Chips & Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa||$2.06||- -|
|Queso Blanco||$2.27||- -|
|Bottled Water||$2.48||+$0.03 +1.22%|
|Blackberry Izze||$2.84||- -|
|Clementine Izze||$2.81||- -|
|Grapefruit Izze||$2.84||- -|
|Pineapple Orange Banana Juice||$2.81||- -|
|Pressed Apple Juice||$2.84||- -|
|Pomegranate Cherry Juice||$2.81||- -|
|Topo Chico Mineral Water||$2.80||- -|
|Hubert's Strawberry Lemonade||$3.24||- -|
|Peach Orange Juice||$2.81||- -|
|San Pellegrino Sparkling||$2.76||- -|
|Topo Chico Lime Water||$2.80||- -|
|Smart Water||$3.24||- -|
|Honest Half Tea Half Lemonade||$2.90||- -|
|Honest Honey Green Tea||$2.89||- -|
First of all, what is Chipotle?
Officially called Chipotle Mexican Grill, Chipotle is an American fast casual restaurant chain that offers Mexican-American cuisine. Named after the Nahuatl term for dried and smoked jalapeño chili pepper, they’re best known for their tacos and Mission burritos as well as their advocacy for consuming real, all-natural food.
Before going into detail about what this chain is really like, it would be better to talk about its roots first. So Chipotle first opened in 1993 in Denver, Colorado by Steve Ells, a professionally trained chef who got his education from New York’s Culinary Institute of America. He then started his cooking career as a line cook at Jeremiah Tower’s Stars restaurant in San Francisco.
After a while, Ells took a loan from his father and opened the first Chipotle location in Denver near the University of Denver campus. His initial plan was to open a fine-dining restaurant from the profits of Chipotle but since his venture showed great potential, he discarded the idea.
While the initial outlook for Chipotle was not much, it quickly surpassed expectations from its first month. The Ells men first thought that they had to strive to sell at least 107 burritos daily to make a profit. They sold more than a thousand burritos per day in their first month of operation, however.
The second Chipotle store opened in 1995 from the earnings of the first store. The third one followed shortly with the help of an SBA loan. Ells’ father continued to support the venture and invested an additional $1.5 million. A board of directors were created and an additional $1.8 million was raised.
In 1998, the first Chipotle outside Colorado was opened in Kansas City, Missouri. This was also the year McDonald’s invested in the company. They opened their first store in Missouri a year later.
The chain continued to grow exponentially over the years. As of 2019, it has more than 2600 locations all over the country.
What Sets Chipotle Apart
There are a few notable things about this chain that makes it stand out from the competition. These also make them very interesting as a lot of them seem to only really work out for them.
As mentioned above, Chipotle is also known for its dedication and advocacy for using real food. They have always used catch phrases that allude to their commitment to using real food. Before, they were all about ‘food with integrity’, as of late, they’re all about ‘being real’.
It’s no secret that a lot of the players in the quick service segment of the restaurant industry use heavily processed ingredients to make their food and profits. These are just simpler, quicker, and more convenient to source - perfect for maximizing earnings.
The choice to use real food in their menu is said to have been inspired by founder Steve Ells’ learnings about American food production. It’s no secret that there’s an ugly side to the industry. What’s more surprising, really, is that some entrepreneurs choose to say no to it.
This could also have been influenced by Ells’ professional training. Since he came from the high-end segment of the dining industry, his perspective could be very different from what businessmen who are just out to make a quick buck from quick meals.
Today, the chain only uses fifty three ingredients that are all natural and all real. Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives are not used. GMOS are banned. And to ensure freshness, they also do not have freezers or even can openers in stores. These highlight their serious commitment in using actual food in their menu - something extremely unique for a player in the quick service industry.
On top of offering real food, Chipotle is also committed to providing the best and freshest ingredients available. They are actually among the first national restaurant chains to source ingredients from local and organic producers. They’re the first national restaurant brand to switch to responsibly raised meat and only go for suppliers with excellent animal welfare standards.
Of course, these efforts affected Chipotle prices significantly. They may actually be the very reasons why they’re not considered fast food even if the service style is somewhat similar to many fast food chains’.
A Versatile Menu
If you’ll take a close look at the Chipotle menu, it’s very small. This is an anomaly in its segment of the restaurant industry as fast casual chains tend to offer everything and anything under the sun as long as they can connect it to their diner’s concept. Despite only really having five items in the menu, though, it does not feel small at all.
How is this possible? They offer customization. Diners can mix and match ingredients to create exactly what they want in a meal. Changing up certain ingredients with every order can get even the most frequent visitors something new to enjoy every so often.
This set up works for both the restaurant and the diners amazingly. Restaurants get to minimize spoilage by only having to stock a few ingredients so that’s always a win.
Diners, on the other hand, get to know the menu by heart and know what to expect from their every visit if a menu is small. This is always a plus for fast food and fast casual diners because they usually expect to get the exact same taste and quality from such restaurants. A small menu will guarantee them a quick and reliable set of options for when they need something easy and readily available to solve their hunger.
Aside from offering real food, Chipotle’s ‘being real’ ethos also extends to the environment. They believe that ‘being real’ also means fighting for the environment so they’re taking major steps in making their operations more sustainable.
For starters, they’re working on diverting their waste from landfills. This is a tough task as restaurants struggle to cut down their waste as it is but they met their 2020 goal and were able to divert up to 51% of waste.
They also managed to reduce their energy consumption and recycle waste. Their Glove-to-Bag project is showing great promise and will be expanded. Their Avocado Dye project is also showing very good results.
Those who are very curious about the efforts the brand is exerting for Mother Earth can also check out Chipotle’s website. They have a detailed sustainability report that lists what they’re doing to help out.
A small menu can equate to a very quick service. Since there are not a lot of recipes to contend with, the kitchen wouldn’t feel overwhelmed with the orders that are coming in. They can master the creation of the meal quite easily.
This and the fact that most Chipotle menu items only really need some minor assembly also guarantees very quick service. Burritos, tacos, and salads don’t really need to be cooked before serving, especially if the ingredients are already pre-made and prepared beforehand.
This is why many can really compare the quick service and convenience of Chipotle to fast food chains. The only thing that keeps people from getting their orders in a flash here are the long lines during peak hours.
The quick service is also the very reason why they have peak hours which is usually during lunchtime on weekdays. Employees and students often pile onto Chipotle locations for a quick, healthy, and substantial meal that won’t take them forever to make or get.
Giving away free food is not new when it comes to fast food and fast casual chains. Since it’s best to let people try what’s in the menu in order to get them to come back for more, giving out free bites every now and then can be quite necessary.
However, it’s not the free food that makes Chipotle unique but the ways that they gave them out. They didn’t settle for just the traditional methods of giving out coupons and loyalty points, they came up with quite a number of antics to grab the attention of the public.
For example, they encouraged people to dress up in certain ways for Halloween. Most of the time, people who come dressed as a burrito get free burritos. On some occasions, they get burritos at discounted prices.
Why Did Chipotle Raise Their Prices?
From the get-go, Chipotle menu prices have always been slightly higher than other chains. A lot of factors come into play in their pricing strategy but for the most part, it’s about their solid branding.
First off, even if they offer quick meals, Chipotle is not fast food. From this fact alone, it can already be expected that they will have higher price points. They may give off the vibe that they can fix you up with a meal in no time but their offerings are nicer.
And since their offerings are nicer, it can also be expected that Chipotle menu prices are slightly higher as well. It’s a given fact that better food costs more so their customers are also willing to pay more.
As Chipotle highlights the key characteristics of their menu which include real ingredients and fresh preparation, they offer a premium service. Even until now, not a lot of national fast service chains can offer the same things. Most fast casual and fast food chains still offer what most experts consider as junk food, so that explains why they’re very cheap.
A lot of experts also say that the switch to non-GMO and locally sourced ingredients also pushed Chipotle prices up. Again, natural and better quality ingredients cost more, so those who want to eat better should also be willing to accept the trade off. Most people are already willing to spend extra on organic produce anyway, so why not do the same for someone else to make your food as well?
Chipotle menu prices also vary depending on the region and area of the store. This news isn't new as most restaurant chains tend to have varying prices. There are lots of factors that come into play in this area so it can be expected.
For example, smaller cities with lower cost of living tend to have friendlier Chipotle prices. Bigger cities with more expensive rent, taxes, and labor costs among other things will have higher price points. So don’t expect the store at New York's Financial District to have the same price as a location in a Midwestern suburb.
Chipotle Menu Prices vs. Industry Prices
The words ‘genius’ and ‘strategic’ are commonly used to describe Chipotle prices. They’re just right - both high and low for consumers with some extras, creating a unique space for itself.
Some experts say that this is a brand that commands pricing power. The way they get to price their offerings is truly interesting since it’s well thought out and composed of various qualities in one.
How? First of all, if you’ll take a good look at the menu, it’s clear to see that it’s higher than what would be its top competitors. Their prices are higher than Taco Bell which is to be expected since it’s not in the same market segment. However, with the same efficiency, the two can definitely be compared.
Compared to its direct competitors, though, it’s prices are slightly lower. This makes it eye-catching, especially with the value they offer.
Lastly, their prices sit nicely below established thresholds. Most items still cost below $10 so they still offer great value.
This combination gives Chipotle a very unique position in the market. It offers an elevated experience from places like Taco Bell and McDonald’s but it’s not as snobbish. This makes them quite distinct from the more popular options, boosting their appeal as well.
However, it still gets to offer great value. Since it’s still well below the amount many consider to be a splurge when dining out, people still think that they’re getting a good bang for the buck. Since they’re also slightly lower than competitors prices, they still get to have a more practical appeal.
Aside from just the pricing, the freebies also need to be mentioned. The first round of add ons are free so you’ll even get an extra from your order. Then you can also opt to pay for additional upgrades so you can further customize your meal. Lots of people end up justifying paying for extras even when they don’t need them since they already got some freebies.
Best Items on Chipotle Menu
Picking out the best items on Chipotle’s menu can both be a simple and daunting task at the same time. This is because the menu can be considered as both simple and complex. Sure, it only really has five items but the amount of possible customizations make it massive in real life.
So how to choose the best items in the Chipotle menu? Take a closer look at the individual ingredients instead. Some of the top picks by chefs and regulars are the following:
In almost every Chipotle menu item ranking there is online, the meats reign supreme. This shouldn’t be surprising since even the brand believes that their animal-based proteins are superior because of how they’re raised and prepared for consumption.
The most popular picks in the menu would be the barbacoa, carnitas, and chicken. They’re marinated and cooked in different ways so there are quite a lot of options available.
Chipotle offers two kinds of beans, black and pinto. Both are nice but each is meant to appeal better to certain palates. Those who want something smokier should go for the pinto beans. However, the black beans are better recommended for steak and chicken, so take that into consideration as well.
Which one is better? Both beans are cooked using the same recipe now so it’s really a matter of preference.
Another ingredient lots of people rave about is the Cilantro-Lime Rice. Some say that it gives the taste of the American-Mexican border, so that’s a great plus. On its own, it’s also packed with flavor and will greatly complement lots of ingredients when making burritos and bowls.
Sides and Sauces
Technically, sides like guacamole and sauces like the salsas are still considered as ingredients so they definitely deserve being mentioned here. Chipotle’s guac are made in store and are hand-mashed, guaranteeing their freshness. While the taste may not be the most consistent since this greatly depends on the quality of the avocados, they have a very simple recipe that let the natural flavors shine.
Chipotle’s fresh salsas come in four types: fresh tomato, roasted chili-corn, tomatillo green chilli, and the tomatillo red chilli salsa. They vary in flavor and hotness so it’s best to take note of which are milder and which ones are hotter.
Chips are often seen as extra items on restaurant menus but Chipotle’s are so good that they’ve become fan favorites. Light and crispy, they’re perfect for those who love to snack.
Worst Items on Chipotle Menu
In a place that will let you decide on what to put on your burrito, bowl, salad, and taco, it’s very easy to make mistakes. This is especially true if you’re not well-versed with mixing various flavors or if you’re unfamiliar with what Chipotle’s offerings are like.
Aside from this, certain ingredients may still not be the best there is. Sure, everything they have is real food but that doesn’t mean that everything is good for one’s health or works great. Some of the ones lots of people tend to recommend skipping are the following.
Lots of people love steak so it’s an exciting option on a casual brand’s menu. However, preparing this item is very tricky. It’s not meant to stay hot as it will cook through and dry up. This becomes a problem with Chipotle’s setup. As a result, their steak tends to end up tough and rubbery - the very things you do not want your steak to be like.
Despite this meat’s popularity, it’s not recommended by a lot of food and health experts. While it tastes great, it’s one of the fattiest things in the menu. Adding veggies will not counter this fact.
Yes, it’s also listed in the best items above but many experts also consider this as one of the worst items at the same time. Why? It’s also loaded with calories and fats. In fact, it has more calories than a Big Mac and that’s a whole lot for a side item.
Cheapest Items on Chipotle Menu
As a fast casual restaurant with a higher price point than fast food chains, many would be very interested in the most affordable items in the Chipotle menu. As mentioned above, however, the prices are greatly affected by different factors so the amounts will vary depending on the location. But in general, here are the most affordable picks from Chipotle:
In some areas, tacos can be purchased for less than $5.
The very popular Chipotle chips can go as low as a little over a dollar in some stores. Add some salsa for a little bit more and you have a total snack.
Chips and Queso
This combination can prove to be quite filling for a small amount of cash.
How to Get More Bang for Your Buck at Chipotle
Chipotle menu prices may be fixed but its DIY nature makes it possible for diners to stretch their dollar here. There are several hacks that lots of people share online which will teach you a thing or two about how to get more servings and get more out of your order. Here are a few less shady tricks that you might want to consider:
- Get halves of two ingredients instead of a full order of one.
- Order a bowl and have the tortilla served as a side for a bigger and less soggy meal.
- Stick to the essentials - beans and cheese - when strapped for cash.
- Take advantage of the free veggies as they amp up the meal and they’re good for you.