Chipotle is typically my go-to burrito joint for… just about anything. As a college student with low funds, their affordable and high-quality food keeps me coming back for everything from birthdays, I-just-got-an-internship celebrations, or when I just can’t bring myself to stomach anymore dining hall food.
What’s not to love, right? Food cooked right in front of you, a yummy vegetarian option, those addictive lime chips… Safe to say, it took me a long time to even consider trying another quick-serve Mexican restaurant. But eventually, through a lot of not-so-gentle urging from my friends, I did. And while Chipotle still holds a special place in my heart, these other restaurants more than hold their own against this powerhouse of a restaurant.
This restaurant is a great option for people who love authentic Mexican cuisine and those who are culinarily adventurous. While they have all the classics (burritos, tacos, nachos, etc.), they also have meats like beef tongue and intestines, why may not be for the faint of heart… or stomach. If you decide to stop in, make sure you try the guac! Their recipe includes cucumbers, which might sound weird to all of you traditional folks out there, but trust me, if you try it, you absolutely won’t regret it. If that’s not convincing enough, consider stopping by on Wednesdays to enjoy their $1 taco special.
Fernando’s is an authentic quick-serve restaurant in Des Moines that is set up much like Chipotle with the assembly line style service. However, the similarities end there. Though they have similar offerings when it comes to burritos, the flavors are completely different, with the Fernando’s staff opting for more traditional Mexican flavors and food. Also unique to Fernando’s is their lunchtime dessert, Buñeulo, which includes fresh strawberries, fried tortillas, cinnamon syrup and sweet milk.
Don’t be fooled, guys. I promise they have burritos, and that all the food is perfectly fuzz-free. One of the things that stood out to me about Fuzzy’s was their somewhat unique menu offerings, with both the tempura fish and shredded brisket burritos taking me by surprise.
My favorite items from this restaurant were the queso and chip appetizer (still hoping chipotle will someday add queso to their menu!) and the brisket burrito, which I initially had reservations about. Who would ever think to put brisket in a burrito? A genius, that’s who. Pork lovers should not be wary of the meals that include spicy pork—though it’s delicious, it’s really anything but spicy.
The appeal of this restaurant definitely goes beyond the entertaining name. The menu has a good amount of variety, which is nice, and their food has a little bit of a kick to it for people who enjoy their Mexican food on the spicy side. They’re also pretty good about keeping their ingredients fairly healthy, so if you even happen to be eating a burrito with a conscience, feel free to check out their nutrition calculator. Beyond the delicious food (10/10 would recommend the salsa), they also have a delivery option (huzzah!) and hours that cater to the night owls: The earliest closing time is 3:00 AM.
Next time you feel like pushing out of your burrito comfort zone, feel free and try one of these places. Whether it’s queso or guac that has a special place in your heart, these restaurants will not disappoint.