The Burrito Blog


But We Can Still Be Friends

Since my falling out with Chipotle and the harsh words on their caloric frequency distribution, we haven't spoke or spent any time together. It was time for some reconciliation.

I went to Harvard Square early one Sunday to break the ice. It was tense. A bit awkward. Chipotle and I were never that serious together back in college anyway. I don't know why I still care.

I ordered a carnitas burrito with rice, refried beans, mild and verde salsa, cheese and guacamole. It was the same Chipotle I remember. Nothing changed.

Chipotle, your lackluster wrap, poor ingredient distribution, and half melted cheese are just not what I need in a burrito relationship. There are plenty other customers out there that are perfect for you, and I do hope you will be happy with them. But we can still be friends.

This Chipotle meal was rated: 4.1.

Sunday, August 03, 2008 by Jonah. Permalink for But We Can Still Be Friends

Chipotle Ignores Own Nutrition Information

I get furious when people give numbers a bad name. Read on and you'll agree, or skip to the chart.

From the Midtown Lunch post that inspired the analysis:

The law requiring all chain restaurants in New York City to post calorie information goes into effect today. And while it is still being fought by the New York State Restaurant Association, many have already complied, including Chipotle, which has already posted a Calorie Range for all of the items on their menu. There’s only one issue… somebody’s math sucks, because when you compare the ranges posted to the (very difficult to find) nutritional information on the Chipotle website, it doesn’t quite match up.

What's truly offensive is the deliberate misrepresentation of customer ordering habits. They state the caloric range of a burrito as 420-918. A range is low to high. All inclusive. We'll take a closer look in a moment, with the help of my beloved Excel 2007. Download the analysis.

First, let's get familiar with the Chipotle menu as concerns burritos. The Chipotle burrito and fajita-burrito variation have up to seventeen distinct ingredients, which can be broken up into three basic components: tortilla, filling, and topping. All caloric values are taken directly from the official nutrition information provided by Chipotle.

  • Tortilla, 290 Calories (Required)
  • Fillings (Minimum 1)
    • Rice, 160 Calories
    • Beans, Choice of
      • Black Beans, 130 Calories
      • Pinto Beans, 138 Calories
    • Meat, Choice of
      • Barbacoa, 170 Calories
      • Chicken, 200 Calories
      • Carnitas, 210 Calories
      • Steak, 190 Calories
  • Toppings (All Optional)
    • Fajita Vegetables, 70 Calories
    • Salsa, Choice of
      • Tomato, 20 Calories
      • Corn, 100 Calories
      • Red Tomatillo, 28 Calories
      • Green Tomatillo, 15 Calories
    • Cheese, 110 Calories
    • Sour Cream, 120 Calories
    • Guacamole, 140 Calories
    • Lettuce, 5 Calories

Of course, you can order a burrito consisting of only beans and a tortilla, so Chipotle indicated that as the low end of their caloric range: 420. Logically, the high end should consist of a burrito with the works. It doesn't. Not even close.

The burrito analysis team developed a list of the 4,640 ways you can order a burrito at Chipotle using the above criteria. Then we solved for calories in each burrito configuration and created a frequency distribution.

There are zero burrito configurations with fewer calories than Chipotle's lower bound value. There are 1,913 configurations with more calories than Chipotle's upper bound value. That's a bad start.

Having ordered and witnessed the orders of thousands of burritos, we created two subsets of burrito types, small and normal. A small burrito has 2 fillings and 1-3 toppings. A normal burrito has 3 fillings and 3 or more toppings. For example:

  • Pinto Beans, Rice, Cheese = Small
  • Rice, Steak, Fajita Vegetables, Tomato Salsa, Guacamole = Small
  • Pinto Beans, Rice, Chicken, Cheese, Tomato Salsa, Sour Cream = Normal
  • Black Beans, Rice, Carnitas, Cheese, Green Tomatillo Salsa, Guacamole, Lettuce = Normal
We plotted these frequency distributions over the set of all possible burrito variations. Think Venn diagram, but cooler.

Click for full size.

Most customers are likely to order small or normal burritos. The caloric range of these ordering configurations, according to Chipotle's own nutrition information, are way off from what they claim on their new menu.

Low High
Chipotle Claims 420 918
Actual Small Burrito 585 1030
Actual Normal Burrito 840 1343

What's really infuriating is that Chipotle has additional information with which to conduct this analysis; they can approximate the consumer's likelihood of ordering each option. If you combined the probabilistic order trend information with nutrition information, you'd get an even better estimate of the calories consumed per burrito. But they're not interested in that. They're interested in lying to you.

How many calories are in your Chipotle burrito of preference? Check out the calculator here.

See also: Behold the Possibilities and the original coverage.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008 by Jonah. Permalink for Chipotle Ignores Own Nutrition Information

Elasticity Of Demand At Chipotle

A line down the block results when Chipotle decides to give away free burritos the day before their opening in Cleveland Circle a couple months back.

Reportedly, the line was moving pretty quickly. Eager freebie recipients said they waited a mere fifteen minutes in line before getting inside.

Friday, March 28, 2008 by Jonah. Permalink for Elasticity Of Demand At Chipotle

Chipotle Giveaway: Harvard Sq. 3/12/08

In case you missed the insanity at Cleveland Circle six weeks ago, consider this a second chance. Chipotle will be giving away free burritos and soda from 11am - 8pm at their new Harvard Square location on Wednesday, March 12th.

Felipe's is about to be surrounded on all sides by Qdoba, Chipotle, and Boloco. Will they remain Harvard darlings?

Thanks to Internet megastars Bianca, Harry, and Melanie for the tip.

Monday, March 10, 2008 by Jonah. Permalink for Chipotle Giveaway: Harvard Sq. 3/12/08

Free Burrito At Cleveland Circle Chipotle

Ohio readers, the free burrito is at the Boston Cleveland Circle Chipotle location only (Map).
Massachusetts readers, the free burrito is available January 30th from 11am to 8pm only.

Chipotle will officially open Jan. 31 at 1924 Beacon St. However, Jan. 30 is the restaurant’s free burrito day: People who come to the store between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. will get a 20-ounce burrito and a soft drink - completely free of charge.

Full story. Thanks to Courtney for the tip!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 by Jonah. Permalink for Free Burrito At Cleveland Circle Chipotle

Chipotle Makes Effort To Be Earth Friendly

Not sure if you can make out the footer of this burrito certificate, but it reads:
This used to be paper you threw in your recycling bin. (100% PCW, Acid Free, FSC Certified, Green Seal Certified, Made With Wind Power!)
PCW = Post Consumer Waste
FSC = Forest Stewardship Council

Love it. Yeah, throw in that exclamation point for bragging effect. You deserve it, Chipotle. Don't let the print make me sound sarcastic - I mean it. I doubt their napkins or to-go bags boast this spectacular sustainability, but hey, it's a start.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 by Jonah. Permalink for Chipotle Makes Effort To Be Earth Friendly

McDonald's Is Lovin' Chipotle

McDonald's recently announced some incredible earnings: $1.00 per share. Stockholders are really excited about this, as they should be. Chipotle, a subsidiary of McDonalds, was responsible for a killer $0.39 of every share's earnings.

Read the official press release here.

Back in January of 2006, Chipotle was spun off in their IPO, and McDonalds made a killing. Now the two companies are traded independently, so you can invest in that cilantro lime rice without the Big Mac guilt. If you bought CMG (Chipotle Mexican Grill) stock 12 months ago, well you are wiser, and probably more wealthy, than I am.

Chart from Yahoo.

Friday, January 26, 2007 by Jonah. Permalink for McDonald's Is Lovin' Chipotle

Chipotle Loves Burrito Lovers

A touching story of how one burrito lover received the object of his desire, and the generosity of an employee at Chipole.

Aaron sent this in by email along with his picture.

I purchased a burrito shirt about a month or so ago, it's very stylish. Interesting thing is though, I had never eaten a burrito while wearing it - usually a burrito just wasn't in the cards whenever I had it on.

I went into Chipotle last Saturday wearing it and placed my order for a steak burrito. When I got up to the register, the cashier told me not to worry about it.

"Huh?" was my response. She smiled and said "It's because you love burritos."
That warms my heart.

Monday, December 11, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for Chipotle Loves Burrito Lovers

The Human Burrito Project

Andrea tempts the cannibals by dressing up as a human burrito this past Halloween.

Accessories include a sombrero, maraca, and a Tobasco Sauce tattoo. In addition to sporting the best costume around, dressing up as a burrito got Andrea a free meal at Chipotle.

Straight from the human burrito herself:

I'm happy to report that not only did Chipotle give me a free burrito, but they also gave me free chips and guacamole and a free drink. And they offered me an extra free burrito if I wanted it.
See also: Where's Waldo Found at San Loco

Friday, November 10, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for The Human Burrito Project

Free Boo-Rito At Chipotle

If you wear a costume this October 31st at Chipotle, you'll get a free burrito. Some conditions apply.

Conditions: To qualify for the free burrito, your must be dressed as a

  • Chipotle burrito
  • Chipotle taco
  • Chipotle burrito bol
  • Chipotle salad
This is not a joke.

Monday, October 30, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for Free Boo-Rito At Chipotle

Chipotle Maintains Hold On Girlfriend

Reporting from San Francisco, Phil.

Jen and I used to live in Miami. We moved clear across the country to San Francisco. The burrito prospects in Miami were poor. Very poor.

San Francisco held promise of being burrito Mecca. We've already been to many of the taquerias here, but yet we've only scratched the surface. Some weren't so good, but some have competed with the best I've ever had. Still, where does Jen find enjoyment? In the familiar, hip, modern-industrial halls of Chipotle, where the burritos taste good but fall apart like clockwork.

Better bring your fork. And bring Jen too if you can. Only Chipotle makes her this happy.

This Chipotle meal was rated: 7.0.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006 by Phil. Permalink for Chipotle Maintains Hold On Girlfriend

Marine Life And Chipotle

This might be my favorite meal at Chipotle, ever.

Was it the moist chicken? Was it the cilantro lime rice? Was it the enormity or the tight wrap?


This burrito was eaten following an excellent visit to the Baltimore Aquarium with Emily. The frog exhibit, dolphin show, and multitude of turtles made this burrito great.

Chipotle sits right across the way, basking in the glow of the Inner Harbor's marine life museum.

PS: I still hate the cilantro lime rice.

This Chipotle meal was rated: 7.8.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for Marine Life And Chipotle

Guacamole Is Extra, Sustainable Agriculture

While we missed the bus on this announcement, it is our duty to report on the commendable actions of Chipotle on June 28th of 2006. On that day, all guacamole sales (capped at $50,000) were donated to The Land Institute, whose purpose is

to develop an agricultural system with the ecological stability of the prairie and a grain yield comparable to that from annual crops. We have researched, published in refereed scientific journals, given hundreds of public presentations here and abroad, and hosted countless intellectuals and scientists. Our work is frequently cited, most recently in Science and Nature, the most prestigious scientific journals. We are now assembling a team of advisors which includes members of the National Academy of Sciences. These scientists understand our work and stand ready to endorse the feasibility of what we have come to call Natural Systems Agriculture.
We of course dig all things sustainable, and applaud Chipotle's gesture. With guacamole prices well over $1.00, that's a lot of profit they donated to a good cause.

Monday, July 03, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for Guacamole Is Extra, Sustainable Agriculture

Chipotle Sees Bull, IPO

Chipotle, owned by McDonalds Corp., is set to hit the stock exchange in the very near future - probably this Thursday. Trading under the symbol CMG, the chain of 489 restaurants expects to raise boatloads of cash and open a store on every corner.
Chipotle owns almost all of its restaurants. This allows the company to open new restaurants close to existing restaurants without having to deal with franchisees who want geographic exclusivity.

Little taquerias be warned. Chipotle is coming.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006 by Jonah. Permalink for Chipotle Sees Bull, IPO

Guacamole Promotion, Pricing

According to the signage on the back of the Chipotle truck, "Tailgating May Result In Guacamole."

Yeah, and ordering guacamole at Chipotle may result in the loss of $1.75.

I plan to conduct a study, documenting the distribution of guacamole pricing. This is not a joke.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Guacamole Promotion, Pricing

Taco Truck vs Taco Truck

David and Goliath.

This Chipotle truck is property of the publicly owned giant, McDonalds Corporation. Pedro & Vinny's taco cart is owned, presumably, by Pedro & Vinny.

How can a one man operation compete with the corporate kitchen and sophisticated supply chain management? Quality. Heart. Enthusiasm. Steamed tortillas.

Comments are enabled on this entry to discuss the tortilla wars.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Taco Truck vs Taco Truck

I Am A Corporate Stooge

Last Saturday I decided to hop a bus from NY to DC to go see Minus The Bear, again. They rocked, again, and so did These Arms Are Snakes.

Once back, it was time to get some pillows and bedding. Where? Kmart.

So I'm walking through the New York's East Village with this gigantic Kmart bag and decide to stop for a carnitas filled dinner at Chipotle on St. Mark's. Now I've got this big Kmart bag in one hand and a Chipotle bag in the other.

As the title would suggest, I was feeling like a bit of a victim of economies of scale.

The carnitas burrito wasn't that great although it was gigantic. I like to get my Chipotle with both medium (not the corn) and mild salsa. It leaves me craving something a little verde. Is there a better suggestion out there?

This Chipotle meal was rated: 3.9.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for I Am A Corporate Stooge

Somewhat Free Burrito At Chipotle

If you buy a burrito at Chipotle today, you are entitled to a free burrito any time on or before June 26th. Just bring your receipt. It's true.

Thursday, June 23, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Somewhat Free Burrito At Chipotle

Cilantro Lime Rice And I Have Words

Of all the burrito serving establishment I've been to, only one serves cilantro lime rice: Chipotle. Why?

Is it because this style of rice tastes best?

Is it because this rice is the easiest to cook?

Is it because the Chipotle chefs are the most creative, the most daring, and the most skilled?

No. So why does Chipotle use cilantro lime rice? The world may never know.

This Chipotle meal was rated: 4.1.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Cilantro Lime Rice And I Have Words

Want Some Guacamole With That?

I'm not sure what's more ridiculous, the fact that Chipotle charges $1.75 for guacamole, or that they give you a pint of it. This was Erica's meal. Fortunately she likes guacamole.

The 'burrito bol' (like Taco Bell's 'grilled stuft' they insist on gangster style spelling) is really served on a plate.

There's no hip way to misspell plate. I've tried.

This Chipotle meal was rated: 6.0.

Sunday, June 12, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Want Some Guacamole With That?

I Go To NY, Appease Chipotle Fans

That's right. This picture is the real deal. Trust me - my Photoshop skills are nonexistent.

I'm really at Chipotle. A post with my experience will soon follow.

Unrelated: do any tax experts out there know if I can deduct travel expenses against Burrito Blog's $3 YTD revenue? Thanks. Just kidding.

Thursday, June 09, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for I Go To NY, Appease Chipotle Fans

Welcome To Chipotle

If only I had a burrito for every time I heard someone say, "Hey! Where's Chipotle on your site?!" I'd eat a lot of burritos.

I eat a lot of burritos anyway.

The truth is that Chipotle has yet to come to Massachusetts. I've had many Chipotle meals at multiple locations in the DC / VA area, so I'm no stranger. The, "You have to try Chipotle" emails and comments can stop.

There are over 450 Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants in the US, owned by McDonalds. Yahoo Finance has the facts although you won't find that on their official site.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005 by Jonah. Permalink for Welcome To Chipotle | Comments (9)