Qdoba Adds Queso Diablo, but Chipotle Remains Proudly Queso-free

Categories: The Dish

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A Qdoba burrito beefed up with Queso Diablo.
The '90s were a big decade for big burritos in Denver. Qdoba was founded here in 1995, the same year that Illegal Pete's got its start in Boulder. That was two years after Steve Ells transformed a former Dolly Madison store by the University of Denver into the first Chipotle Mexican Grill.

While Illegal Pete's has focused on expanding closer to home, today Qdoba is a wholly owned subsidiary of Jack in the Box, with more than 600 restaurants in 47 states. Although that's less than half of Chipotle's size, Qdoba has something Chipotle doesn't: queso.

See also:
Chipotle founder Steve Ells discussed the ingredients behind two decades of success

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Anthony Camera
Where it all began: The original Chipotle on East Evans Avenue.
And last week, all those Qdoba locations added a second queso, Queso Diablo, to the permanent menu that already features 3-Cheese Queso; either can be added to an entree, or ordered with chips. It was the first addition to the permanent menu in over a year, inspired by Queso Diablo's strong performance during a test run this spring. And Queso Diablo is strong: It kicks up the original queso recipe with fiery jalepenos and smoky chipotles.

"When we introduced Queso Diablo as a seasonal offer this past spring, we saw an incredible consumer passion about this particular queso flavor," said John Cooke, vice president of Menu Strategy and Innovation, in announcing the addition. "Given that passion, it quickly became clear that Queso Diablo was a flavor our guests crave. Ultimately, we knew that bringing Diablo back as a permanent addition to our menu allowed us to deliver that full flavor experience to our Queso fanatics."

In a world filled with cheesy fanatics, why no queso at Chipotle? Here's the answer from Chris Arnold, Chipotle's communications director:

We've never done queso, though it is something that people do suggest from time to time (we don't do dessert either, which is also something that people suggest). It's hard to make queso in a way that is consistent with our food philosophy. It's hard to do unless you're making it to order, which doesn't work with our model. Without stabilizers and preservatives, it congeals and doesn't hold very well. If we were going to do it, we'd want to do it in a way that was consistent with our overall food philosophy.

And until they do, you might have to satisfy yourself with Queso Diablo at Qdoba.


Location Info

Chipotle Mexican Grill

1644 E. Evans Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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3 comments
Deborah Aragon
Deborah Aragon

Love Qdoba's queso but commend Chipotle for sticking to their core values.

snowboardbrat
snowboardbrat

I work at a "mom & pop" Mexican restaurant set-up just like Chipotle (opened doors in 1998 in Colorado). We make fresh queso everyday, sometimes two or three times, depending. I don't understand Chipotle's answer - if they just change their "model" and make their staff actually cook the food they server, or at least some of it, queso should be a no-brainer. Anyone in the industry can see what they're doing. Poor customers.

jenna-furrr
jenna-furrr topcommenter

It's a good answer by Chipotle--I eat at Chip's more than I care to admit, and they would have to figure out the logistics of serving unprocessed-as-possible queso dip. That said, if they find a way to make it work, JUST SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!!! :)


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