The Great Burrito Challenge

Okay, so my roommates and I have been debating for a long time over which chain burrito place is the best. The top contenders (obviously) are Chipotle, Cafe Rio, and Costa Vida.

I’ve compared the barbacoa burritos from each, with tortilla, meat, pinto beans, medium salsa, lettuce, sour cream and rice.

After much deliberation, here are my rankings for each:

CHIPOTLE: barbacoa

Taste: 10/10. Chipotle’s barbaboa is delightfully spicy and always leaves you wanting more. Their sour cream and cheese are top notch as well. This burrito is one you finish by licking all the extra pieces off the paper in the bowl 😀

– Tortilla: 4/5 Soft and tasty. The metal wrapper really keeps it fresh and supple ;D

– Meat: 6/5 Seriously though. Seriously.

Size: 7/10. It’s pretty thick, but a little squat compared to other burritos. I’ve been frankly disappointed the last few times I’ve gone at how much smaller they are than I remember them being. Still large though.

Price: $6.65 aint bad, but considering how much more you get at the other two, Imma say this is a 7/10.

Result: 24/30 is nothing to scoff at, but I’ve been a tad saddened by my last few experiences at Chipotle (“CHIP-ottul”, as my dad calls it). I like my ingredients mixed rather than a cold half and a hot half, but it is unique. Their barbacoa DEFinitely wins though!

CAFE RIO: caferioporkburrito

Taste: 6/10. Not bad, but overall it’s a little bland. Their pork is good, but everything else is nice and neutral-flavored. Sadly, their tortilla doesn’t really do it for me (too dry, perhaps?). A nice decent meal though.

– Tortilla: 3/5 Just too dry and flaky. Not enough flavor, even when soaked in delicious juices.

– Meat: 3/5 Definitely good.

Size: 10/10 This burrito seriously weighs like 2 lbs EASY. Like 10 in long and probably the same in circumference.

Price: $7.25 for a huge-butt burrito ain’t bad (especially with a gift card)! For that I’ll give it a 7/10 on value.

Bottom line: 23/30 Coming in a notch below Chipotle, I think Cafe Rio is a good place to go to fill your stomach, but not my favorite. I’d never spend my own money there (unless it was a cheap taco and I were with friends).


Taste: 9/10 This sure beats Cafe Rio (CR), but isn’t quite as brain-meltingly good as Chipotle. The overall mix is pretty tasty, and I keep coming back 😀

– Tortilla: 5/5 Definitely the best of the tortillas, I literally eat them plain all the time bc they’re like $.50 and sooo good.

– Meat: 4/5 Their meat is great and just a bit spicier AND sweeter than CR.

Size: 9/10 Pretty big burrito, but probably only 8-9 in in diameter and 9-10 in in length (a tad smaller than CR).

Price: $6.99 is nice, but the real kicker for Costa Vida is their daily special. On Tuesdays you can get “two sweet pork enchiladas” (basically two small burritos, content-wise) WITH a drink (and they have Barq’s rootbeer!!!) for only $6.49. But here’s the real kicker: If you have a student ID you can get ANY of the daily specials whenever you want! This includes the small pork salad, which is the best thing on the menu (other than their incomparable Tres Leches cake). For all this, I award Costa Vida a 10/10 on the value scale.

Bottom line: 28/30 Costa Vida rewards students AND has cards that give you 10% back every time you eat (so like Cafe Rio it’s basically buy 10 of something get one free), but just for registering it online you get $5! Clearly I’m biased, but Costa > Cafe Rio ANY day of the week!!!

The final jurisdiction: If you want a mouthgasmic burrito, go to Chipotle, but if you live super far from one and are a poor, value-seeking student (like me kinda), Costa Vida is where it’s at. Still ridiculously-delicious but more food for a better price. it really can’t be beat by any other chain of California/Mexican food.

Now I’d like to hear–what are YOUR thoughts? Or are there secret value/taste things I don’t know of at these or other places?

– Alejandro



Filed under On Food

7 responses to “The Great Burrito Challenge


    Try putting raspberry chipotle on your burrito next time. It’s good on ALL the meats!

  2. Costa Vida for sure! Better tortillas than Cafe Río.
    I haven’t been super impressed with Chipotle. I have only been a couple times though.

  3. Marina

    I agree with your assessments, sir. I’ll only go to Cafe Rio when someone else is paying or if I have a gift card. Costa Vida is AMAZING for value balanced with flavor. I also like that they do the smothered option. Their desserts are fantastic too (I’m partial to the key lime pie myself!). Nnnngh now I really want a burrito…

  4. Next time you’re traveling, try Qdoba. Their cheesy burrito is fantastic. Doesn’t look like there’s one near Provo, except for in the SLC airport.

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