Chipotle was on fire last year! In 2022, Chipotle expanded its protein with new limited-time options every few months, including Guajillo Steak, the brand’s best chicken recipe ever, the Pollo Asado, Smoked Brisket, and Plant-Based Chorizo — all of which were pretty damn good. The new meats kept Chipotle exciting, which is why we awarded the brand our Golden Bag Award for best overall fast food brand in 2022.
So far this year, Chipotle has failed to keep up the momentum. In 2023, they have given us the ability to put fajitas in a quesadilla (a hack that had originated on TikTok and was already possible), and Chicken Al Pastor, an admittedly good inclusion but one that isn’t nearly as good as last year’s Pollo Asado. That’s it.
This is why we’re pretty hyped to see Chipotle is bringing back Carne Asada, a protein option that hasn’t been on the menu for over two years. Sure, it’s not brand new. But at least it’s something that will allow us to mix up the flavors a bit and add something different to our best food builds.
Because we’ve done a lot of Chipotle build experimentation, we figured the best way to try this new protein option is by putting it in our best burrito build of all time! Let’s eat.
The Burrito Build:
Our burrito build is the easiest way to have the best experience at Chipotle, and the concept here is simple: keep it as close to a San Francisco Mission Burrito (the burrito Chipotle’s whole restaurant concept is based on) as possible.
The build includes pinto beans, white rice, protein, red tomatillo salsa on the side, cheese, lettuce, and guacamole. I know, I know, it seems crazy to skip the fajitas but trust us on this, fajitas work much better in a bowl than in a burrito where all they do is take up space and distract from the flavor of the meat.
If you’d like some deeper reasoning on why this is the best Chipotle burrito build, hit up our Best-Possible Chipotle Burrito investigation here. Now let’s taste test this burrito with Carne Asada.
Carne Asada Burrito Taste Test:
Thoughts & Tasting Notes
Unlike what you’ll find at Mexican establishments, the Carne Asada here is not finely chopped into bite-sized pieces. Instead, what you get here are large chunks of steak. Part of the reason Mexican food spots chop up their carne asada so finely is that the meat can be tough, Chipotle’s version isn’t quite as easy to chew or as tender as its Steak option — it’s going to be a bit more laborious on the jaw to get through this meat. That said, it’s not full of fat, nerves, or other random chewy bits either.
The meat is dense and hearty but it’s flavored well with a mix of earthy oregano notes, some coriander, and a hint of cumin that helps it to finish savory and satisfying. As is the tendency with most things from Chipotle, there is also a lot of lime here adding a burst of citrus with every bite.
The steak is also finished with cilantro, so if you’re one of the unfortunate individuals who taste a soapy flavor when eating cilantro, you’re not going to be able to avoid that here. Luckily if you do like cilantro, like me, this adds a bright peppery freshness to the meat that deepens the flavor and results in a very nice journey for your taste buds.
The Carne Asada is made from cattle that are raised without antibiotics or added hormones and is grilled in small batches daily and only hand-sliced once finished. This should allow the meat to be more tender and juicy. In my experience it wasn’t noticeably tender, but I’ll note that I did come early in the morning so I may have been eating meat stored from the previous day.
The Bottom Line:
A solid addition to Chipotle’s menu, we definitely recommend you try it in either the bowl, tacos, quesadilla, or burrito. Now give us nachos already, Chipotle!