Moe’s Vs. Chipotle: Who Makes A Better Burrito?
When it comes to fast-casual Mexican food, there are two names that come to mind: Moe’s and Chipotle. Both chains offer customers the opportunity to create their own customized burritos, bowls, tacos, and salads, but which one is truly better?
In this article, we will be comparing Moe’s Vs. Chipotle: Who Makes A Better Burrito? to find out which chain comes out on top.
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The Burrito Choices
For a while, it appeared that there were annuity plans dubbed “The Chipotle of Life Insurance.” Because Chipotle was the first to crack the Millennial code of having personalized options in everything, everyone from pizza businesses to falafel shops began modeling themselves after the fast-casual behemoth.
Chipotle is all about letting its customers order anything they want, which means that while their burrito combination options are nearly limitless (or, at the very least, over 655,000 according to Business Insider), they don’t provide many pre-set compositions.
Moe’s, on the other hand, has a whole menu dedicated to chef-created burritos. They used to be known as the Joey Bag o’ Donuts and the Billy Barou.
Moe’s has introduced a new range of speciality burritos, including the infamous Homewrecker, which is filled with your choice of protein, rice, beans, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.
We should mention that the guac is free. Of course, if you want to make your own burrito, Moe’s allows that as well. However, for the indecisive person who is faced with an overwhelming number of options, it is helpful to have some advice.
Advantage: Moe’s, which gives us the best of both worlds.
Meats at both Moe’s Southwest Grill and Chipotle are well seasoned, offering citrusy, peppery, tomato-stewed notes without being overwhelming. At Chipotle, the steak is always a surefire bet, offering well-done sirloin with a smoky, charred finish.
The chicken can be a little bit gristly and greasy, though, as Chipotle uses chicken thigh and darker meats. If you’re into cleaner-tasting chicken, it’s not the best and can taste like pure fat if you get a bad piece.
Chipotle makes up for it with its savory barbacoa, which could be served as a restaurant dish on its own. It also has a rotating selection of grilled steaks, which on the day we went in was a delicious garlic guajillo.
Moe’s wins hands-down in the chicken department, using clean, white meat chicken that never tastes oily or greasy. For chicken lovers, it’s an easy pick.
The steak is a push, as the grilled sirloin at Moe’s is almost indistinguishable from Chipotle’s. The adobo chicken has a little more flavor, but it also leans greasy as it’s not all white meat.
The ground beef is a nice hint for individuals who love for taco night at home, but it is a waste if you’re dining out.
Advantage: Chipotle, though Moe’s chicken is abundantly better.
Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime Rice is the stuff of legends: a white, fluffy bed of carbohydrates that some people obsess over. It’s one of those restaurant items that’s so famous that copycat recipes abound online.
Though when you try it at home, it’s never quite as good as when you enjoy it seated at a stainless steel table. Chipotle has added brown rice to the mix in recent years.
Though it has some cilantro flecks, that’s about where the similarities stop. And while it might be a little healthier, the fall-off in flavor is immense as the stuff just tastes like, well, brown rice.
Moe’s rice is a little closer to what you’d find in Tex-Mex or Southwestern restaurants, with pepper and tomato notes dominating the flavor profile.
It tastes a little like the stuff Mom used to make out of the Zatarain’s box, provided Mom wasn’t really all that good at cooking and never added enough water.
Moe’s, for whatever reason, always serves its signature rice a little al dente, which makes it far less addictive than Chioptle’s Cilantro Lime Rice.
In response, Moe’s has added cilantro lime to its rice lineup, but much like when you try and make it at home, Moe’s just isn’t the same.
According to the Chipotle website, the restaurant provides five types of black beans: Condor, Blackhawk, Domino, Valentine, and Black Magic.
Nobody who’s ever eaten at a Chipotle can tell you which one you’re eating at. Chipotle also provides pinto beans, which are nice but taste like the Los Angeles Clippers of Chipotle beans.
Moe’s sells black and pinto beans in the same way, but does not publicize the precise types of black beans available on the burrito line. That’s probably because it knows no one cares and prefers to spend its advertising cash elsewhere.
The black beans taste like traditional black beans, with a strong cumin, garlic, and oregano flavor, albeit they are slightly less watery than Chipotle’s. That may appear to be a minor point, but you’ll notice the difference when your burrito isn’t a sopping, wet mess halfway through lunch.
Chipotle does not include vegetables on its menu as an afterthought for vegetarians. The company puts as much attention into its sautéed fajita veggies as it does its marinated meats, and the peppers retain their crispness while sitting on a buffet line for.
The flavor is comparable to that of a nice Mexican restaurant. And the pico de gallo, corn salsa, and lettuce are all delicious.
Moe’s has some vegetarian alternatives, but they don’t really stand up to the rest of the menu. Yes, you can order your burrito with grilled vegetables, minced cilantro, onions, olives, cucumbers, and shredded lettuce.
Except for the cilantro, everything tastes a touch canned. The pico de gallo may be mushy, and the lettuce may be iceberg, shredded hearts, or romaine. Regardless, other than a small crunch and wetness, it doesn’t add much to the experience.
Check to see if there’s a Saladworks near your local Moe’s because its produce isn’t the greatest.
In terms of pure variety, Moe’s is the salsa winner hands down, offering four salsas and four dressings as well as its signature pico de gallo to add into your burrito.
The salsas are also accessible at a self-service bar within the dining area, so you don’t have to pay more if you want more salsa than what’s in your burrito. El Guapo, a rich, thick salsa suitable for dipping chips, is the best of the four.
It can occasionally overshadow the flavor of a burrito, so go for the Light My Fire or the Hard Rock N Roll if you want something a little more delicate.
The former is a hotter and smoother version of El Guapo’s smokey tomato flavor. The Hard Rock N Roll is more akin to a vinegar hot sauce with a bit of BBQ flavor.
Chipotle’s salsas are delicious, albeit limited. The hot is a scorching, lava-looking sauce that gives your burrito a substantial kick. The mild is more like a pureed pico de gallo, rich in cilantro and tomato with just enough heaviness to keep your tortilla from becoming soggy.
The pico de gallo tastes freshly cut and could compete with any restaurant serving. And, despite a lack of variety and availability, Chipotle’s salsas are universally superior.
Both Moe’s Southwest Grill and Chipotle don’t provide many different tortilla options, opting instead to use the same old, large amounts of flour that we’ve been using for years (although Moe’s does offer a whole-grain version).
Although some other wrap-based businesses offer tortillas flavored with everything from spinach to sun-dried tomatoes, these fast-casual industry veterans have declared, “Nah, we know what works.”
“So, if you go in expecting a variety of colorful tortillas with varying flavors and gluten levels, you probably also go into donut shops and ask for bagels.”
One might believe that all tortillas are made equal. On the surface, certainly, the flour tortillas at Moe’s and Chipotle are difficult to distinguish.
The main difference, though, occurs once you begin to eat. If you dare to unwrap a Chipotle burrito, you know that at least half of it will wind up on your hands, lap, or the floor of your car if you’re a compulsive multitasker.
That’s because these tortillas disintegrate like confectioner’s sugar long before you finish them. Moe’s tortillas, on the other hand, hold up even when stuffed with all of the juicy goodness of the Homewrecker. And it gets an easy W for that kind of durability.
In the world of build-your-own burritos, size is relative. Unless you order the same thing from the same burrista, your experience will be different.
You occasionally get a guy who smoked his lunch and forgot how many scoops of rice he put in your burrito. Some people believe that the carne asada bill is deducted from their wages.
However, throughout our visits, Moe’s was a touch more generous with its scoops and supplied a larger product altogether.
The Homewrecker, on the other hand, is a monstrous construct, and eating one of these is difficult even for a 200-pound man who hadn’t eaten all day.
Chipotle doesn’t provide such massive options, so if you want a gut-busting burrito, you’ll have to get everything behind the bar or pay double beef. Extra rice can be requested and is usually not charged.
But, other from some basic carbs that will show up around your waistline later, is that actually adding anything to your meal? Not at all.
What Comes With Moe’s And Chipotle’s Burritos?
Despite the fact that Chipotle has built a tremendous cult following over the years and is, according to Restaurant Business, the second largest Mexican chain in America in terms of sales, its biggest critique is that the menu items are provided a la carte.
That is, for the 11-ish dollars you pay for your burrito, you get nothing more than a silver-wrapped goodie in a paper bag. You’ll need another three dollars if you want some hot, greasy Mexican chips to go with it.
Moe’s, on the other hand, is always delighted to shower you with tortilla chips, giving you more for free in certain circumstances than Chipotle provides for $2.99.
If you have the patience to fill that many containers, you can also dip said chips in a gallon of salsa, as the entire salsa bar is included with your purchase. With larger burritos and free chips, you’ll never go hungry at Moe’s.
Who Has The Better Burrito Combo Deal?
The only combo you’ll find at Chipotle is the custom mix of ingredients you put on your burrito. Because nothing at Chipotle is included, bundled, or otherwise discounted, one might be surprised it doesn’t charge you to select a seat in the dining room, too. It’s like the Spirit Airlines of burrito shops, except people actually like it.
Moe’s, on the other hand, harkens back to the days of mom and pop Mexican restaurants that piled baskets of chips and salsa on top of a burrito the size of your head that almost always came with rice, beans, cheese, and an unexplained salad on the side.
If you like, you may make a combination meal at Moe’s by adding a drink and either guacamole or queso to your order for $4.99.
This ends up being the same price as ordering them separately, so perhaps it’s not so much a value play as it is a way to save the poor overworked cashier some button clicking. Still, the appearance of saving money is all that matters, and Moe’s is a clear winner in that aspect.
Who Has The Better Quacamole Upgrade?
“Guac is extra” has practically become part of the American language, uttered whenever something we believe should be included is charged extra.
Anecdotally, we might conclude this is due to Chipotle, whose avocado surcharge has become legendary in the fast-food business.
Chipotle, for example, charges an additional $1.95 for guacamole in your burrito.
You receive what amounts to a crushed avocado with a lot of salt tossed in for that. The guac is good, but the tastes don’t add much to the burrito, and $1.95 seems like a waste to add creaminess to your burrito.
Moe’s offers a slight discount, charging $1.49 for the guacamole add-on. But Moe’s guac is noticeably better, which is surprising given the rest of the restaurant’s veggie choices.
It has a robust, fresh avocado flavor with a hint of garlic and pepper, as well as the obligatory salt. It truly adds anything to your burrito for $1.49, and in the case of the Homewrecker, there is no additional fee at all.
Nothing is truly inexpensive these days, and this is especially true in the realm of fast-casual burrito shops. Whereas you could formerly walk into a Moe’s or Chipotle and walk out with a burrito, chips, and cola for $10 or less, the burrito alone will cost you more in 2023.
Prices vary by region, but at the Chipotle we visited in Los Angeles, burritos ranged from $9.10 for chicken, Sofritas, and vegetable options to $10.85 for steak and barbacoa. With chips, guacamole, salsa, and a Coke, the price came to just under $20.
The Moe’s we visited was located in Doral, Florida, just outside of Miami. Its prices were reasonably comparable. A white meat chicken tortilla was $8.99, a steak was $11.25, and the Homewrecker was around $1.50 higher for both (which was also the price of a guacamole upcharge).
Those rates, however, included chips and salsa, and even with a side of guacamole, the tab came to roughly $15 per person with sodas.
Nutrition Information For Chipotle And Moe’s Burritos
While Chipotle and Moe’s Southwest Grill offer healthier options, you can also find orange juice on Bourbon Street. So, while we wouldn’t discourage anyone from attempting to monitor calories, don’t expect a life-changing event.
The Chipotle menu lists the number of calories in each item, so you can add up how many calories you’re eating in the same way that you can add up the cost of your meal by ordering add-ons.
A sign above the buffet line says that each burrito has between 741 and 1,210 calories, based on whether or not you add things like cheese, sour cream, and guacamole.
A standard burrito with beef, regular rice, black beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, and guacamole has around 900 calories.
That’s on the low end of what Chipotle’s burritos have to offer. Moe’s website also has details on sodium content, carbohydrates, and fat. Budget 900-1,000 calories for any location, assuming you eat your burrito and don’t order chips.
Vegan And Vegetarian Options
Like most restaurants around America, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Chipotle have an abundance of options for vegans and vegetarians. Moe’s has an organic tofu that tastes like tofu marinated in southwest spices.
It reminds me of one of the vegetarian choices restaurants tried to provide in the 1980s, when tofu was the only way to acquire any kind of protein without adding meat. If you don’t want meat, fill your burrito with rice, vegetables from the vegetable bar, and a lot of beans.
Chipotle’s vegetarian options are firmly rooted in the twenty-first century, with its name-brand Sofritas serving as a plant-based protein. It’s technically tofu, but the braising and spice blend used by Chipotle makes it taste like a less-chemical, flavored Beyond Meat.
It’s not as excellent as genuine meat, but it’s a tasty substitute for vegetarians. However, sautéed vegetables are the greatest option for vegetarians. they are soaked in wonderful oil and are frequently preferred over steak or poultry.
If we only kept score, Moe’s would appear to be the clear winner, with nine categories to Chipotle’s five. But we’ve all seen the football game where one team leads in every statistic but one: the final score.
That’s exactly what occurs in the world of fast-casual burritos. Moe’s is by far the better value, with larger burritos, free chips, better and cheaper guacamole, and a combo menu. And it’s unquestionably the superior restaurant for the money.
Chipotle, on the other hand, wins where it counts, with better and more varied meats, better salsa, better rice, and fresher, more delicious vegetables. And since we’re not here to assess who has the best value or experience, Chipotle takes the win.
Its components taste better, the flavors bloom a little more, and despite the fact that it’s often a messy, pricey affair, the end result is still a winner.
Moe’s Vs Chipotle FAQs
Moe’s and Chipotle are fast-food restaurant chains that specialize in Mexican food, particularly burritos.
Moe’s and Chipotle have similar prices for their burritos, with prices varying depending on the type of burrito and the location of the restaurant.
Moe’s and Chipotle both offer a wide range of menu options, including various types of meats, rice, beans, vegetables, and sauces. However, Chipotle has more options for customizing your order.
Both Moe’s and Chipotle use fresh ingredients, but some customers have reported that Moe’s ingredients have a slightly better taste.
How do Moe’s and Chipotle compare in terms of portion size?
Moe’s and Chipotle offer options for healthier burritos, with customers able to choose from low-carb, high-protein, and vegetarian options. However, Chipotle is more transparent with its nutritional information, making it easier for customers to make informed choices.
Both Moe’s and Chipotle have had food safety issues in the past. However, Chipotle has had more high-profile incidents and has since implemented stricter food safety protocols.
This ultimately depends on personal preference. While Moe’s has a more flavorful taste, Chipotle offers more options for customization and is more transparent with its nutritional information. Both are popular chains with loyal customers, so it’s worth trying both to see which one you prefer.