Don't eat at Chipotle until you read this

It's hard to imagine life before Chipotle. Did burritos even exist? (They did.) Perhaps one of the most notable success stories of the fast-casual movement that's swept the nation, Chipotle has been rolling out the goodness (brace yourself, there are an excessive amount of puns up for grabs when you're talking about Chipotle) since 1993. It all started in Denver, Colorado but has since expanded to have restaurants in 47 states — our deepest condolences to Hawaii, Alaska and South Dakota.

The company prides itself on working with local farms and always serving food made with fresh ingredients, and no additives or preservatives. If you haven't eaten there, there's a lot of intel about the ins and outs of making the most of your experience. If you are currently a loyal Chipotle enthusiast, there's a chance you don't even know all the insider secrets. So we've happily broken down everything you need to know before your next Chipotle visit. Don't eat at Chipotle until you read this.

You can skip Chipotle's long lines

Perhaps the only downside to dining at Chipotle is waiting in line with all the other folks jonesing for an oversized burrito. However, if you have flexibility with your mealtime, there is a way to potentially waltz right on up to the beginning of the assembly line upon entry. A Chipotle employee told Reader's Digest that peak times for massive crowds in the restaurant are, not surprisingly, the lunch and dinner rush. But the time between the end of lunch and beginning of dinner? That's apparently the sweet spot. Also, for you lunch early birds (there is no shame in the 11 a.m. lunch), their opening hours are apparently also a slow time. The worker said, "The shortest lines would normally occur right as we opened — so around 11 a.m. — and then in between peak hours, so often from 2 to 5 p.m." If you're morally opposed to the aggressively early or late lunch, you can always grab that grub to go.

Another even better way to skip the line and still eat during normal dinner hours? Use the app! You'll select what time you want your order to be ready, then just waltz in, head to front of the line, and grab your food. Make sure to wave at all those suckers waiting in line as you walk away with your order in just seconds. Just know, if you decide to order via the app or online, you won't be there to customize the nitty gritty of your meal.

Here's how to get more bang for your buck at Chipotle

We understand there is something satisfying about watching someone roll you the perfect, giant Chipotle burrito with the custom filling of your choice. But the bowl might actually be the better way to roll — at least if you want to get your money's worth.

The bowls tends to have heftier amounts of each ingredient than the burritos. According to Devon Caldarone, a former Chipotle manager who talked to Thrillist, who recommends you order a bowl and get two (free!) tortillas on the side. "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." This makes perfect sense, since they're not trying to cram all those ingredients into a fold-able burrito. You can build your own burritos out of what's in the bowl, meaning you essentially get two meals for the price of one.

If you really want to go big or go home, ask for even more tortillas on the side. A Reddit user claiming to be a Chipotle crew member confesses the free tortilla game is strong writing, "…we never charge for side tortillas. Some people get like 10 and we still don't charge." 

Ask for a double wrapped Chipotle burrito

If you don't know (now you do!), the only way to do a burrito at Chipotle is by asking for a double wrap. This is exactly what it sounds like, two tortillas with which to wrap your abundant fillings. This extra protection ensures no spillage if you want to get crazy stuffing that thing with all the free extras. 

Of course, this hack has its limitations. A longtime Chipotle manager, Devin Caldarone, explained to Thrillist that sometimes people use the double wrap as code for trying to get as big a burrito as possible by asking the employee to just allow the edges of the two tortillas just touch, as opposed to stacking them mostly on top of one another. Caldarone confirmed, "It's basically impossible to make a burrito that big… I had to put a rule in place at my location to prevent customers from asking for this."

So feel free to get that extra padding for your burrito's outer layer — and maybe use that to ask for a few extras — but be reasonable about it, okay?

You can get Chipotle's famous rice without cilantro

There are two types of people in this world: those who adore cilantro and those who firmly believe it tastes like soap. It seems as though there is no "maybe you'll develop a taste for it" when you're talking about cilantro. You either love this herb or you disdain it with every ounce of your being, delicious Mexican meal zest be damned. The white rice at Chipotle is already infused with cilantro. So what's a guy/gal to do when they want rice in that burrito or bowl but cannot tolerate its primary additive? A former Chipotle employee spilled his secrets to Insider and confirmed, you can, indeed, ask for that rice sans cilantro.

The only caveat is, it will take a little bit longer to get that meal in your hot little hands. So if you are willing to wait, and most cilantro haters probably are, you too can enjoy the glory of a Chipotle concoction of rice, beans, meat, vegetables and cheese…and sour cream…and lettuce (there really are a ton of options at this place).

Of course, if you really love cilantro, you can get extra of it on the side, too. All you have to do is ask.

You'll get more meat at Chipotle if you do half and half

If you're willing to get creative with your protein filling, there is a clever way to get a little extra meat without paying extra dollars. If you ask for "half and half," as in two different types of meat in your bowl or burrito, you usually end up with a bigger helping of each meat.

A self-proclaimed "grill master" at Chipotle told Quora, "If you ask for half of one meat and half of the other it almost always guarantees that whoever is serving will give you a bit more meat since it's difficult to actually measure out half and half on the spot."

This is pretty genius and definitely a win-win for the indecisive orderer — we all know one, and if you don't know one, it's you — and avid carnivore. If you are debating between chicken and steak, just get both (that combo actually sounds really good). You'll satiate both your craving and your wallet.

Too many liquid ingredients can ruin a Chipotle burrito

While we totally understand the inclination to fill that burrito until it's bursting at the seams, it's not always a wise decision. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, even when we're talkin' 'bout Chipotle.

Previously a manager at Chipotle, Devin Carldarone explained to Thrillist that even though you technically can ask for extra everything in the burrito, certain ingredients in excess — namely, rice, beans, hot sauce and sour cream — can derail even the most expert roller. He said specifically, "That's a soup burrito that's practically un-rollable."

Another alleged Chipotle worker also reiterated in a Reddit thread that it's the liquid ingredients that will really slow their roll (whoops, we did it again). "Ordering a burrito full of mostly liquids doesn't mean a perfect roll every time," the user said. So if you're someone who loves your extra fillings, this might be a case for going with a bowl instead of a burrito to enhance the overall Chipotle experience.

If you want to save some dough, order from Chipotle's kids menu

The ole' kids menu trick. It works every time, especially if you're pinching pennies and still want to eat at your local Chipotle, which really is a luxury compared to somewhere like Taco Bell. You can get yourself a quesadilla or some tacos, along with chips and a beverage, for less than $5 (depending on your location). 

Order the kids "build-your-own" taco plate. This option serves up one protein of your choice (meat, guacamole or queso), two fillings of your choice, either two taco shells or two tortillas, and chips or fruit, and a drink (but that's gotta be juice or milk — don't try to get sneaky at a Chipotle that serves booze and meals for children on the same premises). The total owed to the cashier will shock and delight you.

You can't load up on those free extra fillings with the kids menu though — it's 90 cents for each extra filling. But it's still a legit amount of food, and maybe even a smarter choice for someone who can never finish the adult-size burrito or bowl without feeling uncomfortably full — not that there's anything wrong with that. You gotta do what you gotta do in the name of a good burrito sometimes.

There are ways to get the guac for free at Chipotle

The only guarantees in life are death, taxes and an extra charge for guacamole at Chipotle. We've all just come to accept it. Avocados are expensive. If those extra guacamole dollars are not in your budget, there are two options to avoid the extra cost.

Your first choice is to make it a meat-free meal. Chipotle has confirmed, when you order any menu item without meat, the guacamole is free. If you are a full-time vegetarian, this is good news for you. If you're a dabbling vegetarian, this seems like a good way to do your dabbling. And if you are a hard core meat eater, you have to make a choice — what's it gonna be, the animal or the avocado?

Another way to save money and also enjoy guacamole from Chipotle, is just to make it yourself. The batches of gauc they make are so expensive because they require a lot of avocados. If you make it at home, you only need a few. If you visit the ingredients page on Chipotle's website and click on "Toppings," then "Guacamole," they reveal it has avocado, salt, lime juice, cilantro, lemon juice, red onion and jalapenos. In 2015, they revealed the exact recipe breakdown, and luckily it's still on the internet. So happily decline that guacamole next time, but only if you've got the goods to have it ready and waiting at home.

Make your Chipotle meal a 3-pointer

So there's a Chipotle "secret menu" tactic that's a bit of an underground deal. The Chipotle menu items are assigned a point value. Less expensive ingredients, like pico de gallo, rice, and cheese, are considered one point. A serving of meat, sofritas, or guacamole is two points. Tortillas or taco shells are zero points. If you ask for a "three pointer," you're asking them to assemble a burrito or bowl with ingredients totaling no more than three points — and also cheaper than your standard Chipotle burrito. 

For example, a burrito with just chicken and rice is three points. Get the burrito with no meat or guac, and you can have three fillings. A burrito with meat, half an order of rice and half an order of cheese would be three points. You get our drift? A Chipotle spokesperson explained this pretty extensively on Facebook but admitted it can still get a bit confusing.  

The bottom line is, asking for a three pointer (or "new button" in some locations — again, it's kind of confusing), is a way to ensure your meal is cheaper. You're welcome for this valuable (three) pointer.

Purchase Chipotle gift cards and get free burritos

A handful of times each year, Chipotle gets pretty generous. During these giving times, if you buy a gift card, they reward you with a free burrito. In the past they were even kind enough to offer a free burrito, bowl, salad or tacos, if you bought $25 worth of gift cards for your pals/lovers/coworkers/teachers — anyone you love who deserves some fresh Mexican food, really. So definitely be on the lookout for these deals before heading to Chipotle.

Even if you aren't buying the cards for others, it's a way to still save money if you're a regular, die-hard Chipotle eater. If you're going to be spending $25 to $50 a week at Chipotle anyway, you might as well enjoy the free burrito now and pay with those gift cards next time. Chipotle is delicious but it's not cheap, so we say if there are ways the company lets you save a buck or two, you might as well take them up on it.

Become a Chipotle rewards member

There are lots of perks to becoming a rewards member at Chipotle. When you take this next step in your relationship with the fast-casual chain, you pay for your food either by ordering online, ordering with the app, or having them scan your app at the register (reminder: if you order in the app or online, you can skip the lines, you are Chipotle VIP, after all). Each time you pay within the app as a rewards member, you rack up points. Eventually, you can build up enough points to get free food (and if you're a big fan, it'll add up quicker than you think). You earn 10 points for every $1 you spend, and when you hit 1,250 points, Chipotle gives you a free entree of your choice.

They also have other fun ways to earn points like letting members know to go to Chipotle on a certain day, granting points for trying different menu items from your "usual," giving free items for your birthday, and launching challenges that let you compete for even more points. This is a no-brainer if you eat at Chipotle even semi-regularly.

If you order a quesarito, you risk angering Chipotle staff

Order the infamous quesarito, a burrito that uses a cheese quesadilla as the wrap, at your own risk. Apparently, they're a pain in the rear to make, and time consuming, which adds a lot of stress if it's rush hour at Chipotle. One Reddit user claiming to be a Chipotle worker said, "Quesorritos [sic] require a relatively large amount of time to prepare. Ordering one during a rush takes a worker away from the line that could be utilized elsewhere. As a "tortilla" aka line person, it infuriated me when people ordered them during a rush where the line went out the door. The optimal time to order them would be during non-peak hours." 

But even if the line is light, there's still an annoyance to making this speciality dish — scorched extremities. Yet another Reddit contributor claiming employment at Chipotle chimed in, "it's not that big of a deal if there's no line but it does burn our fingers when wrapping it."

The quesarito does sound delicious and seems like something we should all try at least once. Maybe just be mindful of the amount of traffic in the Chipotle, and whether they've supplied the workers with proper hand protection.