Oh Chipotle. Home of burrito bowls, mountains of guacamole, and now carne asada; well at least for a limited time. This quick service Mexican restaurant giant operates nearly 2500 locations worldwide and consumes 57% of the market share of “limited service Mexican restaurants” in the United States (Statista).
As reported by the Nation’s Restaurant News, Chipotle’s carne asada is, “Seasoned with spices including cumin and coriander and finished with lime and chopped cilantro.” Carne asada is the newest protein to grace the menu since chorizo, which joined the menu for a limited time in September of 2018.
Over the years, I have lost my affinity for Chipotle. In Texas, we have a local chain called Freebirds, which essentially provides the same offerings as Chipotle, but at much higher quality in my opinion. Due to the better offerings and sheer convenience, I tend to visit Freebirds much more frequently than Chipotle. However, the introduction of carne asada at Chipotle could be just the thing I needed to change that.
My traditional Chipotle order consists of a burrito bowl with steak, so carne asada was not much of a stretch for me. In fact, I love carne asada and frequently order it at restaurants or buy it pre-marinated at the grocery store. On this particular Chipotle run, I ordered my regular burrito bowl with carne asada and a side of chips before sitting down ready to review it.
Immediately, I could tell that this meat was drenched in salt and lime juice. The lime taste overpowered all other spices on the meat and in the bowl itself. This is more of a personal preference, but I also prefer the meat to be cut in cubes like the traditional steak, not strips. When compared to the regular steak, Chipotle’s carne asada is more tender and does not have the fat and gristle like the other offering.
Overall, I was quite underwhelmed. I really wanted this carne asada to give me reason to return to Chipotle, but it just wasn’t enough. The lime juice on the meat completely masked all other spices and flavors in my burrito bowl. If Chipotle changed the carne asada marinade to reduce the lime and showcase all the other great spices, I would consider giving it another try. Until then, I will stick to another source of protein for my Chipotle burrito bowls.