13 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Ordering Food From Chipotle

Since its launch in 1993, Chipotle has slowly built a reputation for serving healthy fast food as a fast-casual restaurant chain. In the early 2010s, millennials fell absolutely in love with that narrative. While having your occasional Taco Bell was still cool, the health craze was at an all-time high right when millennials were entering adulthood and had enough money to buy themselves food. Many still care about how their food is sourced and what exactly they are putting into their body, making many consumers the perfect target clients for Chipotle. 

Today, Chipotle is a staple in the United States that specializes in Mexican-style bowls and burritos made to order in front of the customer. However, whether you think of yourself as a Chipotle connoisseur or have never even stepped foot in one, ordering at Chipotle can sometimes be tricky and mistakes can be made. Here are some common mistakes to avoid and key tips that will make your experience at Chipotle so much better.

1. Asking for a burrito instead of a bowl

A lot of people have switched over to ordering a bowl instead of a burrito in the last few years after realizing that a bowl is often a healthier option. After all, when you take away the tortilla, that's a good 320 calories off your meal. Ultimately, the nutritional content of your bowl or burrito depends on what you put inside, but generally, you can count on the bowl being less calorie-dense. 

The other great thing about the bowl is that you can mix it up however you like and get a spoon full of all your favorite ingredients. Meanwhile, a bite of your burrito may end up being more rice than anything. Finally, and probably the best reason to get a bowl is that they usually have more food overall. Take it from ex-manager Devin Caldarone, who told Thrillist that "Generally, bowls get more food fillings like rice and beans, just not the meats. And extra rice, beans, and salsas are free, so fill up." 

2. Not asking for tortillas on the side

Okay, what if you still want a burrito? We get it. Sometimes you just crave all of your favorite ingredients wrapped up in a warm tortilla while that first bite of a fresh burrito is undeniably good. So hear us out: order a bowl with everything you would want in your burrito, then ask for two warm tortillas on the side. Since you now know that bowls generally have more food, you now effectively have two burritos for the price of one bowl. Tortillas are free, an ex-manager on Reddit confirms: "we never charge for side tortillas. Some people get like 10 and we still don't charge." 

You'll have to DIY your burrito but getting two for one is surely worth the extra hassle. However, if that sounds like too much effort, you can also ask for the tortilla to be placed at the base of your bowl. That way, you can start eating your bowl and, when you've eaten enough to fit the rest into a burrito all you have to do is roll the rest up.

3. Not ordering half and half

If you insist on ordering a burrito, only ordering one version of the ingredients is a potentially big mistake. Hear us out: when you are at the Chipotle counter, you usually pick one type of rice, one type of bean, and one type of meat. Sounds about right? Well, we are here to tell you that there is a better system. If you want to get the most out of your bowl or burrito the ultimate hack is to ask for half and half. That means half brown rice, half white; half chicken, half beef; and half black, half pinto beans. Of course, the polite thing would be to try this more complicated order outside of busy times.

Employees don't have time or even want to measure out exactly half a portion so they will may wing it and the portion will likely be a bit bigger. That's not just strictly speculation, either. In 2015, Dylan Grosz of Apartment List figured out six different ways to make your burrito bigger at Chipotle. According to his calculations, asking for both brown and white rice will get you 93% more rice, asking the same for beans will get you 92% more, and asking for two different types of meat will get you 54% more. 

4. Asking for guacamole if you're having your Chipotle to-go

We all know guacamole costs extra, as Chipotle employees will never let us forget it. The extra cost is due in part to increasingly high demand, as between 2010 and 2016, avocado consumption rose from 4 pounds per person per year to 7.25 pounds. In turn, this means that the cost of importation is also higher. Finally, Chipotle's Vice President of Culinary, chef Nevielle Panthaky told Reader's Digest that "on average, we have 2-3 employees dedicated to guac making during morning prep." The price of labor is therefore also a factor.

Yet, if you are paying extra for guacamole, that might be an ordering mistake. A few years back, Chipotle released the recipe for its guacamole which has been confirmed by employees. This means it's possible to make it yourself (spoiler: it's very easy to put together). 

Granted, this only works if you are taking your Chipotle to go. However, if you are eating in, one thing that might get you free guacamole is ordering a veggie burrito, bowl, or tacos. While this is not a sure thing, employees might be nice enough to give you guacamole for free since you didn't order meat. That said, they don't have to, so if you are hoping for free guac on your veggie burrito, be nice!

5. Not getting white rice

We get it, you might be trying to cut down on the calories by asking for brown instead of white rice. However, if that's the case, you are seriously missing out. First, Chipotle's white rice is famous for its incredible taste. Made with basmati rice, bay leaves, cilantro, and lime and lemon juice, it adds a real kick to your other.

One ingredient might be a problem: cilantro. There seem to be two types of people: those who love cilantro and those who think it tastes like soap. There doesn't seem to be an in-between position. So what can you do if your tastebuds can't deal with cilantro? A former Chipotle employee told Insider that you can order the white rice without cilantro. It might take some extra time, so maybe don't try this during the lunch rush, but they can get it done and you don't need to miss out on the chain's flavorful white rice. 

6. Not getting the chips

You've never gotten Chipotle chips? Now, that's a huge ordering mistake! They are crisp, light, golden, infused with just enough lime flavor, and perfectly salty. Chipotle's social media team even revealed on TikTok how they are made so you can do it at home if you're feeling extra motivated.

If you've never ordered the tortilla chips it might be because they weren't offered and are typically behind your cashier. However, if you look past the employee telling you how much your meal is going to cost, you'll likely see a lineup of brown bags marked "chips." Take our word for it: they are a must. You can snack on them before, during, or after your meal with some guac or pico de gallo, of course. You can also use your chips as spoons and use them to eat the contents of your bowl. 

Since a bowl or a burrito at Chipotle can already be quite the mouthful, you might be thinking a bag of chips is too much. But chips can always be saved for later. In a few hours, you might be hungry again and you'll be thanking yourself for ordering those chips. Even if saving for later is not your thing, you can always order a kid-sized bag. You'll get a little less and it will be cheaper.

7. Not ordering from the kids menu

Speaking of kid-sized items, did you know Chipotle has a kids menu? Don't feel bad if you didn't, as it's not advertised on most of its menu boards. However, it's good to know not only if you have kids but also if you aren't that hungry or don't want to spend a fortune yet again.

For only $4.75, you can get the "build-your-own" taco plate with one protein, two fillings, two hard shells or soft tortillas, a small bag of chips or fruit, and a drink. Of course, these portions are smaller and extra fillings after the two you're allowed are $0.90 each (compared to the mostly free extras for adult meals). The kids menu doesn't stop there, however. For $3.75, you can get a cheese quesadilla and or meat quesadilla for $4.25 with two fillings, chips, and a drink.

If you can never finish your bowl or burrito, this might be your best option. And, yes, we checked that it's available for customers of any age.

8. Not asking for extra of everything

If you are stopping at employee-regulated portions when putting in your order at Chipotle, then it may be time to change. That's because you can ask for extra of almost anything, including rice, beans, salsa, veggies, and cheese for no extra charge. However, additional portions of meat do cost extra (try using the half-and-half method to get more). Meanwhile, guacamole is already an extra cost.

A former employee writing on Reddit says that "everything extra except for meat and guac is free as long as it fills the bowl/burrito." Of course, pay attention to the crowd, the Redditor cautioned. "The employees will hate you if there's a long line and you keep asking for more, but it won't cost you anything more than the regular price." If you're a regular at your Chipotle, you will want to avoid overdoing it, but asking for extra here and there will help make that $12 order worth it.

9. Not asking for a double-wrapped burrito

At Chipotle, tortillas are free of charge. So why not take advantage of that with a double-wrapped burrito? Asking for this can be done one of two ways: stacked directly on top of each other or overlapped, as per a Reddit user. As per Apartment List, double-wrapping can make the final burrito up to 25% bigger than the norm.

The act of double-wrapping comes courtesy of the employees themselves, usually when you've asked for a bit too many ingredients and your burrito is at risk of splitting open. However, if you see that they don't do it themselves, you can ask for it, free of charge.

This ordering tip does have its limits since you need to pace yourself with the extras. Overdo it, and the burrito might still be unrollable even with the double tortilla hack. Former Chipotle manager Devin Caldarone told Thrillist that a truly monstrous order can end up as a "soup burrito that's practically un-rollable."

10. Not knowing about secret menu items

It's common knowledge now that practically every fast food place has a secret menu. As a matter of fact, they aren't that secret anymore and can usually be found quite easily. Chipotle is no different. The most famous secret menu item is arguably the Quesarito, which, as you can probably gather by the name, is essentially a burrito wrapped inside a quesadilla. However, if you order this widely popular secret menu item beware of one thing: employees will not be happy. Many hate it when customers order this as per this Reddit thread. However, many admit they don't mind if you order at a time when it's not busy.

Other items on the secret menu include cheese, meat, and veggie quesadillas as well as nachos. You can probably get almost anything you ask for if they have the ingredients, it's not busy, and you're polite. Tips don't hurt, either.

Secret menu items depend on locations since every employee has their own idea of what can be crafted. Speaking with Thrillist, former manager Devin Caldarone said he would sometimes make a Chipotle pizza. "I'd put two tortillas on top of each other on some foil, then add medium salsa mix with a little bit of sour cream as a sauce. On top of that, I'd add cheese and then I'd chop up some steak, put it all on the grill, and put something over to convection cook it."

11. Thinking it's healthier than your average fast food

Yes, Chipotle can be healthier than other fast food chains, but it all depends on what you order. According to research conducted by The New York Times, the typical order at Chipotle has about 1,070 calories. Chipotle markets itself as a chain with fresh, natural ingredients which isn't entirely unfair. For instance, in 2017, Chipotle became the only national restaurant to use no added colors, flavors, or preservatives. 

However, a few elements prove that Chipotle isn't the healthiest of health food, either. Its GMO-free claims, which were great for business, were put into question by a 2015 lawsuit. In terms of health metrics, most Chipotle orders carry 2,000 to 2,400 milligrams of sodium which represents almost a full day's worth for the average adult, as well as 75% of the daily recommended amount of saturated fat, as per The New York Times.

12. Not asking for a sample

Most restaurant chains that make a customer's meal to order also offer samples, such as ice cream parlors where you can test just about any flavor before you make your final order. At Chipotle, given that all the possible ingredients are right in front of you when you're building your order, you can sample practically any ingredient before adding it to your meal. This was confirmed by a former Chipotle employee via Insider.

Just like anything that sounds a little tedious for already busy Chipotle employees, you might not want to abuse this privilege. After all, there is a thin line between sampling a few ingredients and taking advantage of the system. It's a line that, when crossed, will probably upset the average Chipotle employee. However, if done reasonably — like ordering during lulls and with plenty of pleases and thank yous — this is a great way to test out new ingredients before you make them a staple in your go-to Chipotle order. 

This trick is especially great for mild, medium, and hot sauces. If spices are a sensitive topic for your tastebuds, testing a sauce before adding it to your order will help to ensure you're not getting something you can't handle.

13. Not ordering a margarita

You're telling us you've been going to Chipotle all this time and you haven't been ordering an occasional margarita? Maybe you didn't know about it, but now you do. According to a former Chipotle employee, many locations offer both margaritas and beer, but you must consume alcoholic beverages on the premises only (via Insider).

So as long as you're eating in and you're of legal drinking age, you can order a delicious margarita with your order. However, that's not true for every Chipotle location as a lot of them took the margarita off the menu during the COVID-19 pandemic when all orders were to-go. Most locations have not put it back on the menu since. Some never even sold margaritas to start with, per a Chipotle employee on Reddit. If you are one of the lucky ones, however, your local Chipotle might still sell margaritas for you to enjoy.