Chipotle is a quick, safe place to eat, especially if you will ask the first server to change his or her gloves before handling your order. Chipotle gets rave reviews for serving food that is gluten free, with the exception of the giant flour tortillas. All other ingredients and choices are naturally gluten free. This information is provided in their Allergen Information. Another nice thing about Chipotle is their consistency. Each store has their choices lined up in the same order. This means that a child tall enough to see over the counter can order for himself. Most of the time we order the burrito bowl which comes without the tortilla. Once I tried it with corn chips on the bottom, but found that I like it better when I start with rice.
A typical order will go something like this: "Hi, I have celiac disease. Would you please change your gloves before you begin my order?" If you are talking to a new employee who doesn’t understand, you can ask for a manager who will be nearby, or you can simply explain that you require your meal to not be contaminated by touching the flour tortillas. Usually another employee nearby will understand and explain. The only time we have a problem is when the music is loud and there are noisy people there. Don’t hesitate to speak louder to make yourself understood. As you go along the line, tell the server which beans you prefer, then the meat choices, and on to the salsas, shredded cheeses, or lettuce.
The lettuce and cheeses are picked up by gloved fingers, so it is possible for those same hands to have touched previous flour tortillas, but this is a slight chance. Sometimes, if it is not crowded, the first person who changed her gloves will continue with my bowl on down the line, putting it together for me. At the end, there is guacamole, which will be an extra charge, but well worth it if you like guacamole.
There is a choice of pinto or vegetarian black beans. You can order a vegetarian burrito bowl which comes with guacamole, sautéed peppers, and onions. The meat selections include grilled chicken or steak marinated in chipotle adobo, carnitas, which is shredded, braised pork, or barbacoa, which is beef shredded and seasoned with chipotle adobo and cumin, cloves, garlic, and oregano.
My ten-year-old grandson taught me which combination is best, and now I follow his lead. I start with rice and beans and usually have the shredded pork, medium hot salsa, cheese, lettuce, and guacamole. You can eat it there or take it to go. They will ask you if you want it to go when you begin the process.
If you want lighter fare, you can order a salad which includes your choice of the romaine lettuce, beans, meat, salsa, and cheese, along with chipotle-honey vinaigrette.
One of the nicest things about eating at Chipotle is that the offerings and the lineup are the same no matter where you are. When out all day or in other cities, we have found Chipotle to be a good, quick choice. Just be sure they start with clean gloves, avoid the flour tortillas, and you will be set for a good, quick meal.
"A chipotle pepper is just a simple jalapeno pepper that’s been smoked and dried, elevating it from ordinary to something extraordinary." It also sums up what this taco and burrito chain restaurant is all about: use simple fresh ingredients, take time to prepare them just right, and then quickly combine these jazzed up ingredients based on the wishes of each individual customer. In short, gourmet fast food.
This review was originally written by Melanie Psaltakis in April, 2004.
This review was updated by Anne Barfield in August, 2008.