Disclaimer: this restaurant serves Coke products.
I had a coupon for a free entree from Qdoba (pronounced Q-doh-bah), so one afternoon last weekend, my husband and I decided to stop by and see what the place was like.
Now, I love Chipotle. I can't eat half of the items on their menu (sensitivity to hot peppers and all), but I love my chicken soft tacos. Upon entering Qdoba, I was immediately struck by how similar the layout was to Chipotle.
The line wound along the left side of the restaurant, and took you to a long ordering counter. Food was laid out along the hot rack display, and a person stood at the head of the line with steamer units, waiting to prepare your oversized burrito (or taco, or whatever you wanted).
The main difference, however, is the much larger variety of items which Qdoba offers. For instance, they have more sauces (including a spicy ranch that my husband loves), tortilla soup, brownies, and variations on staple menu items.
Everything else is the same as Chipotle: spicy beef, steak, chicken, or pork. Vegetarian mixes are available through peppers & onions (fajita style) and beans. Lime cilantro rice for the burritos, salsa, cheeses, guacamole, and sour cream. Sound familiar?
Service starts when you place your order; the staff will steam the appropriately sized tortilla for you, depending upon whether you want a taco or a burrito. If you don't want a tortilla, you can go "naked" and just get everything in a bowl, salad-style. After your shell is ready (it takes 10 seconds, tops), you direct them on how to build your food.
For myself, I ordered a basic chicken burrito. No rice, black and pinto beans, chicken, very little mild salsa, and LOTS of cheese. My husband ordered the steak explosion, which involved steak, rice, no beans, fajita peppers, spicy ranch, sour cream, medium (corn) salsa, and cheese. Roughly 5 pounds of food in the burrito (I kid you not).
Our order also included a large pop, 1 bottle of fruit juice, two brownies, a side of tortilla chips with salsa, and a bowl of tortilla soup. The total for all that? Around $20; with the coupon, around $15.
The burritos were about $5 each. The tortilla chips were $0.75, the soup was $5, and I forget the rest... but it totalled the remaining cost on the $20.
The result? My burrito tasted, smelled, and looked remarkably similar to a Chipotle burrito. Great taste, the tortilla was just right. The chicken was spiced and cooked to perfection, and the salsa had a great flavor. Overall, that part was great.
My husband commented that his burrito was divine, and particularly liked that spicy ranch sauce. He thinks also that it tastes better than Chipotle.
The tortilla soup? Not so good. It was overly spicy, so much so that the flavor was lost. Think boiled hot sauce. Eww.
The tortilla chips were stale (some were bending in half...) and the brownies were bland and generic.
Overall? I wasn't impressed. It was ok, and I am sure we will go there again if only for the sake of the spicy ranch sauce that my husband loves. Personally, I would rather have the fewer menu choices and have a consistent quality at Chipotle. Of all the higher-end Mexican-style restaurants, they definitely are king.