Review: Carnitas Quesadilla from Chipotle
Most secret menus aren’t so secret anymore. In-N-Out’s secret menu is more popular than the regular one (see Animal Style). Five Guys bypassed the secret menu all together, and put pretty much anything you could think of on the menu with items like the Grilled Cheese. I first started eating at Chipotle about ten years ago. A store opened in my area, and as a promotion they put an empty bag in the local newspaper. Bring in the bag and they will fill it with a burrito.
Needless to say, my friends and I chowed down on dozens of burritos over a month or two for about twenty-five cents each, if that. Sure I manipulated the system, but Chipotle ended up with a loyal customer that has stood by them for the last ten years. Over said decade I have tried just about everything on the menu, but not the secret menu. Chipotle will make anything you ask for within reason… they have the ingredients. I love my Steak and Guac Soft Tacos, but it seems time to venture outside of my comfort zone and try something new; The Quesadilla off the secret menu. Will it stack up to my beloved tacos?
Since it’s a secret (albeit a poor one), there is no official description for a Chipotle Quesadilla, so I will make one up.
A giant flour tortilla stuffed with whatever you like and grilled to perfection. We at Chipotle are assuming one of those ingredients is cheese.
I went with cheese, carnitas, and fajita veggies. I also added a side of red tomatillo salsa. They pile on the ingredients, fold it like an envelope, and toss it on the tortilla warmer. This was pretty good, but not without faults. Chipotle went all the way when loading on the ingredients, and I really dig that. The massive amount of cheese was melted perfectly, and the tortilla was browned just right. If melty and crunchy are words that appeal to you, this is right up your alley. Though the annoying problem I had.. the two main ingredients seemed to be at war with each other. The carnitas (roasted pulled pork, by the way) were REALLY good. The cheese was just… salty. It took away from the greatness of the pork that was clearly made with love. The harmony of flavors took a hit and the carnitas won hands down.
While eating the quesadilla all I could think was that I just wanted a giant bowl of carnitas, lime to squeeze, and a frosty beer. I have had the carnitas plenty of times before, but never with so few other ingredients along side it. The seasonings were dead on, and the perfect amount of juniper came through. The cheese just didn’t need to be there. Dipping the quesadilla in the tomatillo hot sauce added some nice heat, but didn’t do much to elevate the entire package. Mind you, I am a chile head, so be careful if you can’t take the heat.
This was tasty, but cheese, black beans and guacamole would have made for a better combination. Hindsight, right? Oh, the fajita veggies were forgettable, so I guess that explains me forgetting to include them in the review. “Food With Integrity” is Chipotle’s motto and I dig it. The carnitas are one of the few ingredients they don’t cook fresh in every store. They only use hormone free, free range happy pork, prepare it in a single factory, and then ship it to all their stores. Considering doing it in store would increase the price and margin of error, I totally understand this practice. Perfect pulled pork ships really well. If they start making the guac or rice this way, I will be the first to cry shenanigans. They make those the same way we do in the independent restaurants I work at and it shows in the quality of the food and the line out the door of every Chipotle I step into. Sure Steve Ells is a (expletive deleted), but considering all he has done to raise the bar in the world of fast food, he has every right to be.
Oh yeah, once again, the steak soft tacos are REALLY good.
Pros: Happy healthy animals taste awesome. The word "melty". Beer. Beer and lime. Chipotle. For some odd reason this was really cheap.
Cons: My inability to have the foresight to constrict a decent quesadilla. My inability to have the foresight to add guac or sour cream. Quesadillas aren't tacos.
Grubbing on-the-go: 9.00, if dipping your food in salsa: 2.00
Overall GrubGrade: 8.50/10
600 calories, 26 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1610 mg sodium, 49 grams of carbs, 43 grams of protein.