Since the beginning of time [or at least since the year 2000], Mexican food fans have found themselves stuck in the middle of a game of tug-of-war; with Chipotle and Moe’s on either side.

Chipotle, Chipotle Burrito Bowl, burrito bowl
Jocelyn Hsu

Chipotle Mexican Grill first opened its doors in July of 1993 with the goal of proving to customers that food could be served fast without being “fast food.” It was a unique place for another reason as well; they served Tex-Mex food on the go. Though Pancheros, which opened a year before Chipotle, and Qdoba, which opened two years later, were in the same business, the real threat opened in 2000 and was named Moe’s Southwest Grill.

In the past couple of years, the heat amidst the two franchises has only grown hotter and the competition between Chipotle and Moe's has grown stronger. People have even started to pick sides—claiming that if you like one of them you cannot like the other.

I can’t count how many impassioned Chipotle vs. Moe’s arguments I have walked through, heard, or have participated in myself. I think it’s time to get down to it and figure out which Mexican food chain really takes the pastel (cake).


From the moment you step foot in any of the 680 Moe’s locations in over 40 states, you are greeted with “Welcome to Moe’s!” Nobody welcomes you to Chipotle when you walk in the door…and that’s just not gonna cut it. Being welcomed into a fast food restaurant might not seem like a big deal, but it is one of the essential factors in the entire Moe’s dining experience.

Burrito points: Moe’s- 1. Chipotle- 0

2. 2,250 > 680

One way that Chipotle does beat out Moe’s is the number of chains in the franchise. Chipotle’s 2,250 locations in five countries do overtake Moe’s’ 680 spots in over 40 states. Chipotle has over half that amount of restaurants in California alone. Chipotle is winning the location game worldwide. No matter where you are, there's a good chance Chipotle is only a five-minute drive away. #Mr.Worldwide

Burrito points: Moe’s- 1. Chipotle- 1.

3. FREE Chips & Salsa

Who doesn’t love free food? I know I do, and I’ve never met another person who doesn’t. Well, at Moe’s you get free chips and salsa. And what do you get for free at Chipotle? Maybe a napkin and plastic utensils if you’re lucky. Free chips and salsa ALL THE WAY.

Burrito points: Moe’s- 2. Chipotle- 1.


Neither of the two is expensive, but Moe’s is a little bit pricier than Chipotle. A burrito at Moe’s costs more than at Chipotle by a dollar and fifty cents…yikes. If you’re looking to save cash, Chipotle’s the way to go. #moemoneymoeproblems

Burrito points: Moe’s- 2. Chipotle- 2.

5. Quesadillas & Staccs

Sure, Chipotle has burritos and bowls and salads. But so does Moe’s, and those are Mexican staples you can find almost anywhere. Quesadillas and stacks? Only at Moe’s!

Burrito points: Moe’s- 3. Chipotle- 2.

6. Queso War

Oh, the scandal. We can’t forget the day Chipotle announced the addition of queso to the menu and naturally, Moe’s brought back Free Queso Day, less than two weeks later as a response. Coincidence? I think not. Have a queso confession you’re dying to make? Moe’s also started a 24-hour queso hotline where you can disclose your queso confessions to your heart’s content. Who do YOU think is winning the queso game? #inQUESOyoudon'tknow

Burrito points: Moe’s- 4. Chipotle- 2.

7. Musicians, Outlaws, & Entertainers

Chipotle’s name comes from the Nahuatl word for a smoked and dried jalapeño pepper…boring! Moe’s is an acronym for Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers as Moe’s tries to relate everything to pop culture such as their menu names, the hand-picked playlist playing at each location, the trendy music-related artwork hanging up on the walls in the restaurant, and the creativity that the chain strives to express.

Burrito points: Moe’s- 5. Chipotle- 2.

8. And How Can We Forget About the E. Coli Scare?

Over 35 E. Coli cases in over 11 states linked to Chipotle back in 2015, from at least 8 different Chipotle locations. The outbreak in 2015 was documented at five different times throughout the year. More E. Coli cases reported in 2017 are connected with Chipotle as well. I don’t know about you, but I prefer my Mexican food to be bacteria free.

Burrito points: Moe’s- 6. Chipotle- 2

The Final Verdict

Chipotle and Moe's might both be viable options, but there's a clear winner here. Obviously, Moe’s wins the medal of honor, though Chipotle puts up a good fight. Chipotle’s prices may be cheaper, but Moe’s sure gives Chipotle a run for their money. Chipotle is lucky to have gained even 2 points against Moe’s, but it doesn’t matter because Moe’s wins the debate. Next time you want to satisfy your quesadilla (or burrito or bowl or salad or stack) craving and you’re in a hurry (or not), Moe’s is the way to go.

The argument between Chipotle and Moe's ends now. If you’re a die-hard Chipotle fan, I’m sorry to say that I respect your decision but I cannot agree with you…and I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors at the sub-par Mexican fast-food chain. I hate to break it to you (and I love to at the same time), but Moe’s Southwest Grill reigns supreme. 

Moe's beats Chipotle out anytime, any day. Mo' Moe's, Mo' Smiles.