The game has just ended and the Eagles have won!

You exit Bender Arena to the sound of the pep band playing AU’s fight song. You feel triumphant, but also hungry. Very hungry.

You could squeeze onto an overcrowded Wonk bus and make your way into Tenleytown for dinner, but the Blue Crew now has a more convenient option for postgame grub: Qdoba. This popular Mexican joint is an excellent edition to the dining scene at American University.

What's on the menu? What's the quickest way to order? What options exist for meal exchanges? Read on to learn all you need to know about this relatively refined cousin of Chipotle and Moe's.

First impressions

Elliott Parrish

Qdoba is efficient. That's important on a college campus. How many of us have been late to class because our orders at Panera were taking too long? Thankfully, the line at this grab-and-go joint moves relatively quickly. (The only bottleneck: waiting for the fizz to dissipate in your cup at the standard-article Pepsi fountain.) For when you need a reinvigorating meal to fuel your studies but don't have time to wait, Qdoba may be the smartest option.

Ordering is, in theory, made even easier with the Grubhub app (which also accepts meal exchanges and dining dollars). But the system inexplicably stops working at random intervals. Hopefully staff will work out the kinks of this digital platform as the restaurant's business grows.

The menu

Elliott Parrish

Tex-Mex is best enjoyed with one's own choice of toppings. Maybe you're a fan of pinto beans. Or maybe you enjoy some spice from a dollop of salsa verde. Perhaps you can handle the heat from the ominously named "Fiery Habanero Salsa" (or then again, maybe not). The point is, we all like our burrito bowls prepared a little differently. Qdoba's menu allows for plenty of flavorful customization.

The entrees are as follows: rice bowls, nachos, taco salads, burritos, tacos and quesadillas. Word to the wise: the latter three usually sell out fastest, so show up early for Taco Tuesday.

Out of all these, the taco salad has to be my favorite. It's especially great with fajita veggies and guacamole (which, I should note, does not cost extra). The onions are mild enough to be subtly sweet. The red peppers are crisp and fresh, perfectly complementing this salad's citrus lime vinaigrette. Black beans add a savory richness to the dish, making it a lunch more appealing than the ubiquitous sandwiches found at Subway and the convenience store next door.

Unfortunately, the menu turns out to be limited in comparison to other Qdoba franchises. Breakfast burritos are completely off the table. Brownies and chocolate chip cookies are not available for dessert. When I dined here last, there was no whole fruit left to accompany my meal exchange. The iced tea and Jarritos soda common to Qdoba properties nationwide are similarly missing in action.

Final thoughts

There is no room to eat inside Qdoba's cramped storefront at AU, and the line often spills out the door. But I can see why this restaurant has proven so popular during the past few weeks. The quality and variety of the ingredients here are impeccable. Especially amidst complaints that the university's new meal plans leave much to be desired, Qdoba makes a compelling argument in favor of on-campus dining.

No matter if the Eagles win or lose at Bender Arena, take solace here: the opening of Qdoba under the Mary Graydon Center bridge is most definitely a win for students craving reliably delicious Tex-Mex cuisine.