The answer? It’s two-fold my friends. A Qdoba burrito is the more relevant answer, while the neighborhood of Georgetown is the more racist answer. Today, we are going to tackle the former although our adventure takes place in the latter.
Skipped out of work a bit early to beat the traffic (and by “beat”, I mean travel directly with), met up with MR Stone, AV, and Jolly to head down to grab a burrito in the least diverse area of Washington DC other than GOP headquarters…. you guessed it, Georgetown.
A few important notes before I get into this: 1) I had eaten Qdoba before, but it was a few years ago since I had last eaten it and tried to forget any preconceived notions I had about it; 2) one of the big draws to going all the way to G-town to go to a chain was their student special…. 50% off for “students” every Monday!
(they didn’t ask for a student ID, but if they had, I still have my Boston University ID that has no expiration date)
That’s a good value; in other words, pretty much the opposite of the contract the Atlanta Basketball Hawks gave to Joe Johnson. Of course, when reviewing the place, I couldn’t let that low price affect my ultimate rating because it is only at this one location, so my loyal readers in other places will not be so fortunate. But now I’m rambling as usual….
The Qdoba menu is fairly diverse but definitely has the feel of a chain restaurant. It’s not as streamlined as the Chipotle menu, which has its trade offs. On the one hand, a few more options, but on the downside, the assembly process, especially when it’s busy (and I heard it gets much more crowded than when I was there), feels rushed, disjointed, and out of order. I did not like having my options so poorly laid out in front of me.
My order: 3-queso burrito with chicken ($6.25), “cilantro-lime” rice, black beans, cheese, pico de gallo (mild), salsa verde (medium), and guacamole ($.99, for a Qdoba guac ordering tip, see MoJo in the sidebar!), all of this wrapped in a steamed flour tortilla. The 3-queso sauce is described on the Qdoba website as a “creamy three cheese blend with roasted poblanos, tomatoes and jalapeños. ” Sounds pretty good, right? I can certainly get on board with those mixture of flavors.
After flying through the line, and stammering out my order, I get my food and we sit down. AV and Jolly both get burritos, while MR Stone gets taco salad. Nothing really stood out at about this burrito. The rice was bland, the salsas lacked any distinguishable flavor, and the beans did little more than take up space. The chicken was moderately flavorful, as was the guacamole, and the 3-queso sauce was quite good and added a unique and zesty flavor to the burrito. My complaint here was the underrepresentation of the good ingredients. The quality of the meat often makes or breaks the burrito, which is why it’s generally the focus and why we order by saying “a chicken burrito” and not a “sour cream burrito with chicken” or something along those lines. There was minimal drippage from the burrito, which means that the ingredients blended fairly well together and the salsas weren’t too wet. I guess they weren’t as excited to be there as we were.
I did have one negative experience that I had never had before, and I am not sure if it’s indicative of this Qdoba, this batch of ingredients, or of Qdoba as a whole, but the tortilla became stuck in my teeth after every bite like a piece of cheap Wonderbread. Jolly experienced this sensation too and we spent a minute or two after every bite just picking the low quality tortilla out of our teeth. Qdoba steams their tortillas which, as my loyal readers would know, I love, but the tortillas must have been cheap because they did not hold their integrity the way I would have liked.
In the scheme of the burrito universe, this is at the bottom end of the scale. It doesn’t have too many redeeming qualities or a particular niche in the market that some restaurants or chains may have. What it goes for is completely middle of the road. Give the customer a few different options, aim for the middle in terms of flavors and ingredients, and keep the prices reasonable. If that is the goal, then it generally succeeds. I would not go out of my way to go to Qdoba, and it will probably lose a head to head with most other places, but if you’re itching for a burrito without dropping a lot of dough (or maize) for something that will fill you up, then Qdoba is convenient because it is a chain and you can find them all around.
By being on the east coast, Qdoba is playing in the Division III of burrito leagues, so it’s able to stay afloat. Also, if you can get it on the 50% off day or with one of their buy one-get one specials, then it’s definitely a very good value.
Verdict: 2.5 out of 5 sombreros.
Qdoba Mexican Grill
3303 M Street NW,