- Michelle C / Yelp
- Insider asked chefs about their favorite things to order from Chipotle, a fast-casual chain that serves customizable Mexican dishes.
- One chef told Insider that his order depends on whether or not he thinks the staffer rolling the burritos knows what they’re doing.
- Another said she uses tortilla chips to scoop up her carnitas bowl for “makeshift nachos.”
- One pro said he orders a chicken bowl with a tortilla on the side so he can slow down and savor his meal even more.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Chipotle is a fast-casual chain that’s known for its build-your-own burritos, rice bowls, and other Mexican dishes.
To figure out some of the best things on the eatery’s menu, Insider spoke to a group of chefs about their favorite go-to dishes.
This chef’s order depends on whether or not he thinks the staffer rolling the burritos knows what they’re doing.
- Hollis Johnson
Thomas Leonard, executive chef of Walton Street Kitchen + Bar in Chicago, Illinois, said he appreciates the classic burritos available at Chipotle, but that he has high standards when it comes to how they are rolled.
“I always watch the person rolling the burritos. If they are good [at burrito-rolling], I order a burrito, if they do not seem to be very good, I order a bowl,” he told Insider.
When it comes to fillings, Leonard selects his meat “depending on what looks fresh” but he usually goes for the barbacoa or carnitas because they’re on the moist and juicy side.
“If I get barbacoa, I get black beans, because the flavors go great together. If I get carnitas, I get pinto beans for the same reason. Every burrito I order gets fajita vegetables, pico de gallo, corn, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce,” he told Insider.
He said he also loads up each bite of whatever he orders with Chipotle’s Tabasco sauce for added flavor.
Chef Tariq Nasir prefers barbacoa burritos, since he considers the meat to be the most flavorful option at Chipotle.
- Yelp/Brenda K.
For Chef Tariq Nasir, blogger at ChefTariq.com, the ideal Chipotle burrito starts with barbacoa, white rice, and black beans. From there, Nasir adds fresh tomato salsa and guacamole.
“When it comes to Chipotle, adding flavor where you can is key. To me, the most flavorful meat is the barbacoa, with its garlic and cumin fusion,” he told Insider.
And, of course, he said he always adds guacamole.
Chef John O’Neil likes to reduce his carb intake by ordering his chicken bowl without rice.
The chain may be most famous for their flour-tortilla-wrapped burritos, but Chipotle also provides plenty of choices for guests pursuing a low-carb or even a keto lifestyle.
Chef John O’Neil of the “Backroads and Barbecue” show on Facebook Watch said he orders a customized bowl without rice that consists of mixed beans, corn, cheese, extra peppers and onions, extra chicken, and pico de gallo.
“This order saves on the carbs [while] giving maximum flavor and a fair amount of good fats. I’d rather have the peppers and onions than just plain lettuce for the nutritional value,” he told Insider, adding that he chooses beans since they have much more protein than rice.
O’Neil said he also orders guacamole on the side so it doesn’t get warm when placed on his bowl.
This chef opts for a “grains and greens” bowl that’s big enough for leftovers.
- Yelp/Brian L.
Melissa Eboli, nutritional chef and blogger behind Via Melissa, told Insider that she likes to combine the salad and bowl options for a base that’s “loaded with brown rice and greens.”
“I then top it with a double serving of pepper and onions, both black and pinto beans, chicken, mild red salsa, and guacamole – but I tell them to hold the chips,” she added, pointing out that she loves how much fiber and protein is in this dish.
She said whenever she orders this, she splits it with a friend or eats half and brings the rest home to eat for dinner, since the serving is rather large.
Chef Daniel England likes to mix quesadillas with burritos.
- Yelp/Mary Lou S.
“If I’m feeling really fancy, I’ll order a steak burrito with everything on it [that’s] wrapped in a quesadilla – it’s delicious,” England told Insider, adding that he loves how fresh this dish tastes.
This chef uses tortilla chips to scoop up her carnitas bowl, creating “makeshift nachos.”
- Yelp/Ameya B.
Some Chipotle locations offer nachos as a “secret menu” item, but if your local shop doesn’t roll like that, you can still improvise your own version.
Chloe Geachinnio, chef de cuisine at Texas Spice at the Omni Hotel in Dallas, Texas, said she does just that.
“I get the chips and guacamole and use that guacamole for my bowl and use the chips as a spoon for my bowl so I can have ‘makeshift nachos,'” she told Insider.
She said she customizes her bowl with cilantro rice, black beans, carnitas, corn, pico, cheese, and lettuce.
“I get the chili de arbol salsa on the side because sometimes I can’t handle the heat, so I like to add it on my own,” she added.
Chef Makeda Reid orders half cilantro-lime rice and half brown rice in her bowls.
- Michelle C / Yelp
Chipotle serves two different kinds of rice: white rice seasoned with cilantro and lime or brown rice.
Staffers working the line will usually ask you to choose one, but Chef Makeda “Keke” Reid of Blue Waters Caribbean and Seafood Grill in Temple Hills, Maryland, orders both.
“[I get] a bowl with half brown rice, half white rice, cheese on top of the rice, then sofritas or grilled chicken breast,” she told Insider.
She said she tops it all off with hot salsa, corn salsa, tomato salsa, sour cream, lettuce, and salad dressing. If she’s looking to amp up the dish, Reid said she’ll order a warm tortilla to go inside of her bowl.
Chef Jeff Osaka gets a chicken bowl with a tortilla on the side so he can slow down and savor his meal.
- Yelp/Lieu N.
“My go-to Chipotle order is a bowl with white rice, black beans, chicken, pico de gallo, salsa verde, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, and then the tortilla on the side,” Osaka told Insider.
“Although I’m from California and grew up on the Mission-style burrito, I think having a bowl [and a side tortilla] actually makes me eat more slowly, thus enjoying my lunch or dinner more,” he added.
This chef enjoys the vegan sofritas in a bowl of brown rice and vegetables.
- Yelp/LeCount B
Bryan Suarez, head line cook at Restaurant Progress in Phoenix, Arizona, described his ideal Chipotle order as a bowl of “brown rice, black beans, sofritas, grilled vegetables, lettuce, cheese, salsa, pico, corn, and always guac, even if it is extra.”
Sofritas is Chipotle’s vegan-friendly protein that was introduced in 2014. These tofu bits undergo a braising process involving chipotle chiles, poblano peppers, and Mexican spices, which imbue the sofritas with a bold flavor.
“Chefs are very gluttonous humans, so it’s nice to sit down and eat something healthy and filling that’s not an under-seasoned salad,” he added, speaking of his go-to order.