Who reins as king of Mexican fast food?

Burrito for the ages: Opinions Editor Hollis Tharpe and Advertising Manager Cullen Laberge take a stance to determine the best Mexican fast food establishment.

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Burrito for the ages: Opinions Editor Hollis Tharpe and Advertising Manager Cullen Laberge take a stance to determine the best Mexican fast food establishment.

Cullen Laberge, Hollis Tharpe

Moe’s versus Chipotle is a very touchy subject with Mexican-food enthusiasts, Moe’s is a large chain of 700 restaurants, mostly on the east coast, and known for their world famous queso and burritos. Chipotle is an extremely large chain of 2,500 with stores in every corner of the U.S and internationally. They focus on healthy, and fresh ingredients for their Mexcian food. For this face-off, we will be basing our critique on chips, queso, ingredients, and atmosphere.

Moes: Cullen Laberge

Moe’s can be described in three words: Heaven On Earth. You can see me at the location in Avon three to four times a week. My typical order consists of a burrito with cheese, lettuce, steak, chicken, sour cream, and the most important part queso… then another side of queso and a drink. The grand total with student discount $9.35. Please note that with Moe’s rewards you can cut the price or get meals for free.

So let’s start off with the chips of Moe’s: the weakest food at the restaurant. You can get really good chips but sometimes the salt can be too much or too little. The chips do not matter as much at Moe’s though because the queso is liquid gold, and they are free of charge so don’t sweat a weak bag of chips when you go there. I give Moe’s three out of five on chips.

The only time I cry tears of joy eating food is when the liquid gold of Moe’s, aka Moe’s queso, hits my tongue. Make sure to get a barrel of chips because you want to get every drip of queso. Everything from the temperature to consistency of this queso makes everyone that tries it scream in joy. The cheese is good quality, and the spice is perfect. You do not get a full pepper on your chip like with Chipotle queso, their peppers are cut up very small, and they blend right into the cheese and give the right amount of spice.

When people argue for Chipotle, they argue for it being fresher than Moe’s. But I would not call being fresh causing an E-coli outbreak. But on a serious note, I have never experienced anything but freshness at Moe’s. There is always fresh meat on the grill, and the veggies are always ripe. I would say the freshness of the ingredients is superb and at the same level of its rival. The taste of the ingredients is always spectacular. Chicken and steak always seasoned incredibly, and never under or over cooked. The options in ingredients have a lot more depth than Chipotle too. You can get everything from dark and white meat chicken to tofu for my vegetarian friends…corn or flour tortillas, a variety of in house sauces, many cheeses, and options for different grilled veggies. Moe’s offers a full salsa bar that is also free. I give Moes five out of five on ingredients. The atmosphere is just the last category that sets it apart from far less superior Chipotle. When you first walk in you get the classic “Welcome to Moes!” You then you walk over to the line where a very nice employee takes your order, and in my case an employee that knows you (Celia, the manager is the best lady). After you get your drink and visit the salsa bar, you notice how vibrant and welcoming the Moe’s decor is. After going to both establishments, I noticed the customers at Moe’s are more outgoing and polite. The Chipotle customer seemed more reserved on their phones and their lettuce bowls with light cheese drizzled on top. I gave them four out of five on the atmosphere.

Chipotle: Hollis Tharpe

In terms of the subway style Mexican restaurants, Chipotle is king. Founded in 1993 by a world class chef, Chipotle has always emphasized the quality of their ingredients. The most recent time I ate at Moe’s, I watched the employee pour ground beef out of a bag into the serving dish. Incidents like this would never happen at Chipotle.

My typical burrito order consists of chicken, cheese, cilantro lime rice, and lettuce. Although it is rather plain, the flavors all compliment each other very well. Many people argue that Chipotle’s higher price tag makes it the inferior restaurant; however, the portions are larger, and the ingredients are higher quality. A burrito, chips, and a drink would cost $11.20 at Chipotle; however, at Moe’s, the same order costs $12.86, and the chips are free. Not only is Chipotle cheaper, but you get more, quality food.

In terms of chips, Chipotle is polarizing. Many people enjoy the hint of lime in the salt, while others despise it. Personally, the lime salt is enjoyable; however, the chips are either too salty or not salty enough. Also, the chips are not free, and they are smaller than the chips at Moe’s. Despite all this, a perfectly salted Chipotle chip is unparalleled in terms of quality and taste. The chips score a three and a half out of five because when they are on point they are unbeatable, but their simple flaws have the capability to ruin the experience easily.

I have not yet been able to try Chipotles’ new queso blanco, but the ingredients seem very straightforward, and I have heard positive feedback. Although I am not a huge fan of queso, I would be willing to give queso blanco a try due to the transparency of the ingredients on Chipotles’ part.

I enjoy eating at Moe’s. However, in the 25 or more times I have been to various locations, I have never walked in and felt like the restaurant was clean. There is always some sort of substance around, whether it’s chip crumbs or a bit of salsa; there’s always a bit of dirt lurking about. Chipotle on the other hand has always been nearly spotless every time, and although the employees don’t yell at you when you walk in the door, the atmosphere is very welcoming in a subtle way. There’s music quietly playing in the background, and the overall aesthetic is laid back. When you mix a great atmosphere with great food, you get a fantastic overall experience. The overall atmosphere at Chipotle receives a five out of five.