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I went to Chipotle for the first time – and it’s better than Taco Bell

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A customer orders food at a Chipotle restaurant on April 26, 2022 in San Francisco, California.Chipotle has more than 3,000 restaurants around the world – but only 10 in the UK.

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  • Chipotle has 10 restaurants in the UK. I went to one to try its food for the first time.
  • I thought my burrito bowl was a little expensive, but I liked how customizable it was.
  • Although its menu is much shorter than Taco Bell’s, you can adapt dishes to your tastes more easily.
Chipotle has more than 3,000 restaurants around the world – but only 13 in the UK, all in London. Rival taco and burrito chain Taco Bell, in comparison, has about 100 in Britain.Chipotle restaurant in London exteriorChipotle has 10 restaurants in the UK.

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Sources: Chipotle Q1 earnings, Chipotle UK

After moving to London, I visited one of Chipotle’s restaurants near Leicester Square, the city’s equivalent of Times Square. I went at a Saturday lunchtime and the store seemed busy.Chipotle restaurant in London exteriorI visited Chipotle for the first time.

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The menu is based on four core dishes – burritos, bowls, tacos, and salad – with a choice of fillings and toppings.Chipotle restaurant in London exteriorThe Chipotle menu.

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Many fast-food chains let customers order at digital kiosks and their adoption accelerated during the pandemic. However, customers at the Chipotle I went to can only order at the counter.Chipotle restaurant in London order counterYou could only order at the counter.

Grace Dean/Insider

Source: Insider

This made it seem more personal, however. You can, for example, ask a staff member for recommendations or for more information on ingredients. It also makes it easier to customize your meal.Chipotle restaurant in London menuThe Chipotle menu.

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I ordered a bowl from Chipotle, and got to choose which rice, beans, protein, and toppings I wanted. I went for its plant-based sofritas, coupled with brown rice, pinto beans, cheese, lettuce, and mild tomato salsa. I paid to add guacamole, which at £2.40 ($2.94) I thought was a bit pricey.Chipotle burrito bowlMy bowl from Chipotle.

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My friends had also been given free grilled peppers and onions, too. I went back to the counter and a member of staff was more than happy to give me some.Chipotle burrito bowlMy bowl from Chipotle.

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At Taco Bell, in comparison, I was able to customize my order on a digital kiosk by removing ingredients or adding extra ones, but there wasn’t as much choice. Plus, at Taco Bell, I had to wait for my order to be brought to my table, whereas at Chipotle they made mine as I watched. The staff member who served me at Chipotle didn’t have to juggle my order with digital orders, too.Taco Bell Newcastle kiosk orderThe digital order screen at Taco Bell.

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Source: Insider

My burrito bowl from Chipotle tasted really good. But at £7.95 ($9.75) without the guacamole, and £10.40 ($12.75) with it, I thought it was expensive for fast-casual dining.Chipotle burrito bowlMy meal cost £7.95 ($9.75).

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I’d never tried sofritas before, and wasn’t exactly sure what they were. The texture and appearance reminded me a lot of ground beef, but a bit mushier. Chipotle has sold them since 2014, and they’re made from organic shredded tofu which is braised and marinated with chipotle chiles, roasted poblanos, and spices.Chipotle burrito bowlI ordered my bowl with sofritas.

Grace Dean/Insider

Sources: Insider, Insider

While there are some smaller tables, the ground floor of the store is dominated by one long shared table. This may be a more efficient use of space, but it made the dining experience seem less personal. Some people were sat outside, too.Chipotle burrito bowlThe interior at a Chipotle restaurant in London.

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There were some intimate tables available downstairs, though. They looked quite different to the dining areas you usually see in quick-service restaurants, though the flat wooden tables were a bit of a give-away.Chipotle restaurant in LondonThe decor at a Chipotle restaurant in London.

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The decor inside was fun and poppy, a bit like at Taco Bell, with some bright colors and neon signs.Chipotle restaurant in LondonThe decor at a Chipotle restaurant in London.

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Taco Bell has a much bigger menu, with dishes including quesadillas, the Crunchwrap Supreme, and the Cheesy Gordita Crunch. It also offers desserts – churros and cinnamon twists in the UK – unlike Chipotle. And Taco Bell has a lot of deals, product bundles, and special offers that I didn’t spot at Chipotle.Taco Bell NewcastlePart of the menu at Taco Bell.

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Source: Insider

But in some ways, Chipotle actually gives customers more choice. Vegan and vegetarian customers at Chipotle can choose between grilled vegetables and sofritas for their filling for tacos and burritos, unlike Taco Bell, which only offers beans. And Chipotle has more options to customize your dish, which makes the whole experience seem more personal. In terms of price, Taco Bell’s dishes seemed cheaper but the portions were smaller, too.People walk past a Chipotle restaurant in NYC.A Chipotle restaurant in New York City.

Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images

Chipotle’s menu may be shorter than Taco Bell’s, but it’s easier for users to craft the exact dish they want. Shame it doesn’t offer dessert, though.Chipotle restaurant in London exteriorI preferred Chipotle to Taco Bell.

Grace Dean/Insider

This article was first published on June 25 and has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider
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