Is Qdoba better than Chipotle?


Photo Credit: Photo via Jackie Poznanski

Qdoba’s Chicken Protein Bowl with onions, peppers, and tomatoes.

By: Jackie Poznanski, Editor

Chipotle has become a very popular fast food Mexican restaurant over the past few years. Following their fame, Qdoba is another Mexican food chain that also specializes in tacos and burritos. Therefore the question proposes, “Is Qdoba better than Chipotle?”


Chipotle Mexican Grill is one of the founders of Mexican fast/casual food chains. The franchise was founded by Steve Ells in 1993 in Denver, Colorado. The restaurant’s headquarters is in Newport Beach, California and it currently has 2,500 branches in many locations throughout the United States and a few other countries.

This restaurant specializes in tacos and Mission-style burritos; the other items on their menu include quesadillas, salads, and various bowls. Customers order through a buffet where they can choose from pork, steak, chicken, barbacoa, vegetarian, or tofu for their main meal. Their extras are endless, some examples are chips, guacamole, and salsa.


Qdoba Mexican Eats is another popular chain of Mexican-style cuisine fast restaurants. Similarly, Qdoba was founded by Anthony Miller and Robert Hauser in Dever, Colorado as well. There are currently 720 branches in several locations in the United States and Canada.

Qdoba specializes in San Francisco burrito style and other products such as  quesadillas, Mexican gumbo, and chili con queso. The meat in their burritos can be chicken, beef, and pork. In addition, they have vegetarian options and they also serve chips, dips, and soup.

Is Qdoba better than Chipotle?

While these two Mexican restaurants a fairly similar, there are a few differences that ultimately sway the customer’s decision. To begin, Qdoba customers do not need to pay for extra guacamole. However, in Chipotle, customers need to pay $1.80 for extra guacamole. Speaking of dips, Qdoba and Chipotle customers often prefer Qdoba’s queso over Chipolte since it is more flavorful and comes in a¬† larger size.

However, Chipotle is more forceful in its campaign toward GMO-free and fresh ingredients. In 2015, Chipotle became the first nationwide restaurant to serve completely GMO-free products. While Chipotle is GMO-free, Qdoba has more options regarding making your own meal.

Chipotle has 2,500 locations internationally in comparison to Qdoba which has less with 729 locations. These small differences, don’t always make a huge difference when customers are looking for Mexican food, in fact sometimes the location is the main factor in choosing between the two.

My Experience

Through my personal experience, I generally enjoyed Qdoba better than Chipotle for various reasons. The portions at Qudoba are more suitable for me and my hunger cues. Chipotle’s bowl is too big for my liking and I normally never finish my meal in one sitting. Furthermore, the quality of vegetables and meats are much fresher and taste better. For example, every time I order a bowl with chicken from Chipotle, it almost seems as though I am eating the scraps of chicken rather than the full pieces. In comparison, Qudoba has large cut pieces of meat that are sustainable and flavorful.

In regards to cleanliness, I do feel both places are clean and set up in similar ways. Chipotle and Qdoba are situated in a buffet style where customers are able to choose their ingredients down a line. Both places also have great customer service and normally produce quickly and maintain a fast-moving workspace. Chipotle however only takes cards and closes sporadically throughout the week. Younger kids and teens who don’t have a debit or credit card often can’t go to Chipotle because they do not accept cash. I’ve also had several experiences going to Chipotle and being disappointed because they were closed without any notice.

Furthermore, Chipotle’s supplementary chips are absolutely terrible, they are either stale, overly salted, or proportioned incorrectly. Qdoba does not sell their chips separately, usually, their chips come alongside their meals or are a part of their specials. Overall while both places sell and promote the same products, Qdoba is the better option. Qdoba is fresh yet, inexpensive and allows for various options while incorporating a healthy diet that is sustainable and fresh.