Order This, Not That: Chipotle

by in Dining Out, April 10, 2009


This quick-service joint has been around for years, but Dana and I only recently tested it out. We’d heard they use free-range animal meat and fresher ingredients. We didn’t realize those would come in gigantic portions! That said, here are our tips for eating healthier (and greener) at Chipotle.

How can fast food be eco-friendly?
Chipotle strives to serve “Food with Integrity,” meaning better tasting, from better sources and better for the environment and the animals. Their chains offer naturally raised pork, chicken and beef, and about 25% of their pinto and black beans are organic. Chipotle recently began purchasing some of their produce from local farms, too (something I like to see!).

Nutrition info?
Chipotle’s website has ingredient lists and yummy pictures all over it, but I had a tough time finding the nutritional details. Finally, I Googled “Chipotle + Nutrition Info” and found this pdf hiding in their FAQs.

Order this
For any first timers, the menu can be a bit overwhelming because you create your own burrito, salad, fajita or taco. This is easy temptation to go overboard. For the base, go for a flour tortilla (taco) with 90 calories — as opposed to the burrito with 290 calories — or order your meal to split with a friend (Dana and I should have split a burrito, not had two).

Next, choose your fillings, but don’t go crazy! Stick to two or three healthy toppings. Start by choosing one protein such beef, pork or chicken. The pinto beans are flavored with bacon (so vegetarians and sodium-watchers, be mindful!); choose the black beans instead. Next, go for the lettuce, tomatillo green or red chili salsa or a fresh tomato salsa — they range from 15 to 40 calories a serving.

Not that
Just for kicks, I added up a burrito with pinto beans, chicken, red tomatillo salsa, sour cream and guacamole — here are the results: 910 calories and 40.5 grams fat. It’s no wonder those nutrition facts aren’t easily accessible!

Cheese, guacamole and sour cream are classic add-ons, but they’re also high calorie and high fat. If you’re splitting your meal, choose one of these toppings and ask them to go easy. Otherwise, skip it. By removing the sour cream and guac in the burrito above, I save 270 calories and 23 grams of fat.

For more information, check out Chipotle’s menu and their nutrition info.

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Comments (34)

  1. Jeff says:

    At some point you simply have to accept that Chipotle is a calorie-packed meal anyway you cut it. Just because something is 'fresh', 'organic' and 'farm raised' doesn't mean it's necessarily healthy.

  2. Sarah says:

    One of the things that isn't well known about Chipotle is that you can order a single taco. This saves on price (only $2-3, depending on your meat) and on calories. It still makes a filling lunch, but without the guilt of looking at a larger portion size and thinking you should have eaten it all.

  3. Mandy says:

    My son works (and eats) at Chipotle's. Since working there, he has lost about 20 pounds. That's a testament to the fact that "calorie responsible" meals can be purchased there.

  4. Linda says:

    I agree with skipping the sour cream and just eating the guacamole…which is a "good fat" They don't put much cheese anyways, at least that has been my experience! DEFINATELY have a Bowl and not a burrito! When I eat at chipotle, I have it at lunch, and that is all I eat that day! You can't eat that kind of a meal and then have another t meal that day…or you will gain weight!

  5. dbo says:

    I love Chipotle, when I go I get a salad with chicken, I always ask for half the amount of fajita veggies , just the tip of the ladle of black beans , a small pinch of cheese and extra tomato salsa, no need for dressing. I find they are very accomidating and it cuts my calories way down, I never feel guilty and always satisfied after eating there

  6. kate says:

    Don't forget the "bowls." No tortillas, just the meat, rice, beans, salad stuff and salsa. I go with "light rice" which is about a tablespoon. Chicken, black beans, tomatoes, light cheese(about 2 tablespoons), and the pico gallo make for a great and filling meal.

  7. lauramich says:

    I get a salad with chicken, black beans, and salsa. I skip the cheese, sour cream, and salad dressing, but I do get guacamole on the side and then use half of it to top my salad. Using the Chipotlefan site that @Elizabeth mentioned, I calculate my Chipotle meal to be a bit over 400 calories, plus loads of fiber and protein, and moderate in fat (most of it unsaturated). And I don't miss the carb-loaded rice and tortillas, or the sour cream and cheese!

    Of course, this summer I started grilling marinated chicken (with cilantro, lime, garlic, cumin, chipotle, and a little tequila) and serving it with black bean and corn salad, and that scratches my Chipotle itch.

  8. Rodyfuch says:

    NiksUses 2 Excellent phrase

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    1

  9. Sandy B. says:

    Assuming the guacamole is fresh, I’d include that in the selection over the cheese and sour cream any day. Avocadoes are pack with nutrients and good fats.

  10. Kate says:

    If you order a salad with with black beans, light on the chicken, hot sauce and just a touch of sour cream and cheese you can easily come out under 400 calories. I don't know why you would ever order a tortilla at Chipotle if you're trying to cut calories. It's also white flour, which isn't super good for you either.

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