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Have you tried the Ghetto Burrito Bowl? (Chipotle Menu Hack)

by (922)
Updated September 16, 2014 at 7:18 PM
Created January 21, 2011 at 6:50 PM

Inspired by the eating out thread, I just wanted to check in and let any of my fellow Paleo family know about this supremely cost-effective Paleo Menu Hack for dining at Chipotle.

I have something of a famous menu hack on my resume already, having co-created the video that spread the Ghetto Big Mac far and wide. I didn't create that sandwich - that dubious distinction belonged to my co-star Dallas. And I didn't invent this Chipotle hack either (learned of it in the comments at this Robb Wolf post) but I have tried it many times and have evangelized it to strangers and so then here we are.

Ghetto Burrito Bowl

The staple paleo options on the official Chipotle menu are obviously going to be a salad or burrito bowl where you hold the rice and beans and load up on ethically raised meat, soybean-oil (eww) drenched fajita veggies, salsa, and yummy fats like (depending on how "paleo" you are) sour cream, cheese (heretic!) and guacamole. The bowl starts off at a high price and then goes up by another $1.75 if you add guacamole - and if you dont take guac at Chipotle, I don't trust you. By the time you're done ordering this standard meat bowl plus guacamole at my local Chipotle you've passed the $9 mark even if you didn't take extra meat.

Enter the hack! The Ghetto Burrito Bowl says let's strip this down to the essentials and go only with what we really crave the most. Veggies are nice but if we can get Meat, more Meat and Guacamole for half the price of the usual bowl then we can skip the veggies right?

Well all you have to do is ask.

Tell the first scooper that you want a burrito bowl with no rice or beans, ask for your favorite meat and then ask for an extra helping of the same or another meat. I like to go with Carnitas and Barbacoa. Let the Chipotle employee know that you understand you will be charged extra for extra meat. You want 2 or maybe even 3 portions if you're feeling especially godlike.

Your bowl will get passed to the fixins person at which point you will tell the person you're done. You just want meat in that bowl and that's it. Don't have them add the guac because that will just complicate matters at the cash-register. They will give you a funny look and then hand it to the cashier letting them know you have 2 (or 3) sides of meat. If this doesn't get successfully communicated you may have to help them along.

Now make sure to order your side of guacamole. It will come in a little cup which you will mix with your meat when you have arrived back at your table.

You have now bought a nice heaping portion of meat and guac for $5. 2 sides of meat at $1.50 each plus $1.75 for a guacamole. You're spending about $5 on the best parts of your $9 burrito bowl. That's some serious Paleo Hacking right there.

Have you been this intrepid at Chipotle? Or do you have other Paleo Menu Hacks to suggest? Let's have them then!

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15966 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

dude, youre one of the two in that vid? rad. good one. good to have you here. Hows the health situation since going paleo?

D37d3deca3cac81441742b6c3d87e574
0 · August 12, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Yep! This worked for me in Hardford County, Maryland. For $7 I got steak, carnita + side of guac. Happy as hell that it worked.

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2904 · June 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

@Amanda I used to live in Williamsburg BEFORE they had a Starbucks. Going back there for concerts and such is surreal because it's been so modernized and tainted in the span of 10 years.

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788 · April 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Everything at Chipoltle except the Carnitas are cooked in soybean oil.

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6082 · January 13, 2012 at 3:19 AM

Epic. I've had to give up Chipotle for a while till my finances normalized, but I may just splurge on lunch tomorrow!

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951 · September 18, 2011 at 11:58 PM

That was my question and I still don't get it :(. How can it be less than the starting price???

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922 · March 31, 2011 at 8:14 PM

oh, duh! thanks

D8195c5ae6c967027a3133d74969d0e1
543 · February 24, 2011 at 10:11 PM

he meant "on-line" ie computer- we do that in NYC:)

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922 · February 09, 2011 at 8:58 PM

yeah definitely some regional or franchise owner differences. my local chipotle still charging the numbers i said in the original post: $1.50 per side of meat and $1.75 for guac.

15e684f6f716f88c99f641098a6e06ca
922 · January 28, 2011 at 2:37 AM

i know that chipotle claims to use no additives - so if there was it would be a shocker.

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922 · January 28, 2011 at 2:35 AM

no idea about additives in the steak but to me there's something less appealing flavor-wise about it at chipotle. i get it sometimes but prefer the other meats, even the chicken.

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 10:27 PM

what do you mean by ordering at the store - are you ordering from the cashier directly or something? I still go on line to get the meat in a bowl. So the meat helpings should be as generous as usual. You might be right about the guacamole line servers being more generous than that little cup but I've had some stingy ones too.

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589 · January 27, 2011 at 5:17 AM

I'm in North TX, the DFW area specifically. Keep in mind that I did get 2 servings of meat with the guac, which jives with Lauren's price.

3b803506ca7d7b5796bc16ee5b9f11d3
198 · January 27, 2011 at 3:06 AM

Great tips thank you. I had always asked for the veggies, didn't know they were in soybean oil, oy! and LOL on the "bizzarro Chipotle".

Ea776df66c8277321b167e2ee3f22574
316 · January 27, 2011 at 2:01 AM

I tried yesterday, with one 'side' of steak and one side of guac... total was $4.47! The cashier wasn't convinced, but the girl who served my food clarified for her... and I was a happy camper! Great tip!

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 1:43 AM

it seemed to work for geoff just yesterday - see his comment above - which is why i say maybe it's a regional difference.

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 1:42 AM

interesting. where are you located? i wonder if it could be a regional thing. i'll try again sometime soon and post back afterwards.

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922 · January 26, 2011 at 5:46 AM

geoff, you're welcome!

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2437 · January 26, 2011 at 2:41 AM

Thank you!!! Just did this hack and it worked great.

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2206 · January 22, 2011 at 1:51 AM

when i first saw that video i had just moved to maine after years of brooklyn life and a diet that consisted in large part of bodega snacks so i love that graphic. paleo has helped me tremendously in recovering from the damage done from those and other terrible dietary choices over the years and i'm glad to hear it is helping you as well!

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922 · January 22, 2011 at 12:29 AM

thanks for the welcome guys. amanda - aw, it's the maine graphic! ha, i love it. ben - been going great. dropped 35 lbs since starting in october and feeling fantastic. we shot vid of us at the polar bear swim jan 1 and i'm looking much slimmer there. vid should be posted in a week or so.

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2206 · January 21, 2011 at 11:21 PM

whoa--i didn't realize you were internets rafi! my avatar is totally a slightly edited screen capture from "bodega", still one of my favorite food videos ever. good to see you here, man.

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0 · January 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

NM. Makes sense now.

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6157 · January 21, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Damn. I've been getting overcharged on my meat + guac for a while now. Thanks for the tips.

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12174 · January 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM

Yum!!! My husband, my almost-4-year-old, and I could probably demolish a whole tray/tub of the marinated steak between the three of us doing it this way.

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16 Answers

Af1d286f0fd5c3949f59b4edf4d892f5
5
18397 · December 23, 2011 at 3:36 PM

This is good stuff, and Chipotle is one of my favorite places, but ever since I found out that they put soybean oil in everything, I have gone there much less. They even have it in the oh-so-delicious barbacoa beef, which I used to eat all the time, even recently. The only meat there that qualifies is the carnitas. The chips, shells, steak, veggies, rice ALL have soybean oil.

Don't hate the messenger. Chipotle needs to switch to another oil like avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil.

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24523 · January 21, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Oh yes, I've tried this about a dozen times, with interesting results. A few ways to do it:

  • Order bowl with sides then guac: Like in the original post. Good because of cheap price, bad because of lack of anything other than meat and guac, and guac order is small
  • Bowl, straight up: Order a bowl from the outset without mentioning sides, just meat, guac, sour cream, and lettuce. The may fill the bowl to the brim with meat and guac. Good because of variety of ingredients, bad because it costs ~$7.50 vs $5.00
  • Order sides from the start: Good because cost can go down to $5.00 for meat, guac, sour cream, and lettuce; depending on the cashier. This is because the bowl is capped at the end of the line, and the cashier may just be told "two sides!". You have to order a bowl with only meat, then when they pass it on, add on a side of guac, then ask to put a little of sour cream and lettuce in it too.

If you're into salsa (not nightshade-free), options two and three increase your chances of getting salsa without too much confusion. The pricing is fickle, due to different cashiers, so do your best to smile widely.

Note that this also works at bizzaro Chipotle (aka Qdoba).

3b803506ca7d7b5796bc16ee5b9f11d3
198 · January 27, 2011 at 3:06 AM

Great tips thank you. I had always asked for the veggies, didn't know they were in soybean oil, oy! and LOL on the "bizzarro Chipotle".

77732bf6bf2b8a360f523ef87c3b7523
6157 · January 21, 2011 at 9:09 PM

Damn. I've been getting overcharged on my meat + guac for a while now. Thanks for the tips.

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1
593 · January 13, 2012 at 1:29 AM

i did this today at chipotle. asked for "for here." asked for no rice, no beans. asked for carnitas and steak. they asked if i wanted "double" meat (meaning two normal amounts of meat, mixed together), or half and half. i said half and half. they gave a decent amount of each meat. scoop of guac at the end (which I think is $1.80). guy at the end rang it up. total was $4.40. i don't know if i schemed 'em or if that's the normal 'half and half' price. seemed too low. so yay. a filling, paleo-ish fast food meal for living in LA.

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10 · December 23, 2011 at 6:47 AM

I tried this in Washington, DC this afternoon and it cost me $6.75 after tax for guacamole and two sides of chicken. I'm trying to cut my sugar and other white carbs (rice, flour) for a little while. This was nice because it was still exactly the same number of calories as I normally eat (rice, chicken, cheese, lettuce, corn, mild salsa) but it had twice the protein.

There was some initial surprise at first, but they kept taking the lid off the bowl and eventually wrote '2 sides' on it. I might consider doing the same thing tomorrow.

Thanks for posting this!

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30 · January 28, 2011 at 1:51 PM

I used to eat chipotle more but I tend to stay away from it now as something in it agitates me. They cook everything is soybean oil, I'm not sure if that is what does it. http://www.chipotle.com/en-US/menu/special_diet_information/special_diet_information.aspx

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589 · January 27, 2011 at 1:04 AM

I tried this today, and I wanted to say that, at least for the steak and carnitas, the price has increased to $2.25. I paid $6.77 for steak, carnitas, and guac. Still a better deal than a bowl with two meats and all the veggies, but still not as cheap as one would be led to believe.

D37d3deca3cac81441742b6c3d87e574
0 · August 12, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Yep! This worked for me in Hardford County, Maryland. For $7 I got steak, carnita + side of guac. Happy as hell that it worked.

15e684f6f716f88c99f641098a6e06ca
922 · February 09, 2011 at 8:58 PM

yeah definitely some regional or franchise owner differences. my local chipotle still charging the numbers i said in the original post: $1.50 per side of meat and $1.75 for guac.

A993550f2a130df8d3462c08582f08ec
589 · January 27, 2011 at 5:17 AM

I'm in North TX, the DFW area specifically. Keep in mind that I did get 2 servings of meat with the guac, which jives with Lauren's price.

Ea776df66c8277321b167e2ee3f22574
316 · January 27, 2011 at 2:01 AM

I tried yesterday, with one 'side' of steak and one side of guac... total was $4.47! The cashier wasn't convinced, but the girl who served my food clarified for her... and I was a happy camper! Great tip!

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 1:43 AM

it seemed to work for geoff just yesterday - see his comment above - which is why i say maybe it's a regional difference.

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 1:42 AM

interesting. where are you located? i wonder if it could be a regional thing. i'll try again sometime soon and post back afterwards.

F5d7dbf60e6dad04476a4bc44dc52dec
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0 · July 30, 2014 at 5:54 AM

Does this still work or did I order incorrectly?

My bill on 07/29/2014

Extra Barbacoa (3@2.85) $8.55

Guacamole (2@1.95) $3.90

Extra Carnitas $2.60

Subtotal $15.05

Tax (San Diego - 8.0%) $1.20

Total $16.25

0b1183c1cb9a03cb6dad93cb60926f6e
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251 · August 09, 2013 at 10:46 PM

Totally tried this after reading this post. Without tax, it came up to $5.80 for double meat, salsa, and guac. They only charged me for the meat and guac. I talked to the lady at the register and she said as long as you get three items or less on the bar, you will be charged for side orders only.

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0 · August 09, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Just tried this today. I live in a small town by Sacramento. Came to $7.10, 2 meats and a side of guac.

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0 · July 04, 2013 at 9:46 PM

Chipotle is going to be switching to sunflower oil! yayyyyy :)

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0 · February 20, 2013 at 12:23 AM

Typically in most restaurants any additional portions, which you are calling "sides" can only be ordered as an add on to the basic entree. If people continue to try "get around the menu" to order everything a la carte then those items will just be priced accordingly so those taking advantage of business owners can't get a less-than-cost (read: not just COGS but other overhead such as labor, rent, heat, elec, taxes and about 100 other costs) item.

An example would be if you get a turkey sandwich somewhere and you want to add a portion of RB, you won't be charged for a whole second RB sandwich (less the bread). Instead you get it for say, 1.50. If you just go in and try to order what you call "sides", then restaurants will just raise the price of your "side" to the same price as the whole sandwich.

1465424b10efa8493b00663f37962da5
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0 · February 20, 2013 at 12:22 AM

Typically in most restaurants any additional portions, which you are calling "sides" can only be ordered as an add on to the basic entree. If people continue to try "get around the menu" to order everything a la carte then those items will just be priced accordingly so those taking advantage of business owners can't get a less-than-cost (read: not just COGS but other overhead such as labor, rent, heat, elec, taxes and about 100 other costs) item.

An example would be if you get a turkey sandwich somewhere and you want to add a portion of RB, you won't be charged for a whole second RB sandwich (less the bread). Instead you get it for say, 1.50. If you just go in and try to order what you call "sides", then restaurants will just raise the price of your "side" to the same price as the whole sandwich.

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788 · April 19, 2012 at 12:58 PM

Awesome! I am going to try this. This should become a series. The "Ghetto" version of eating out paleo at every place..

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1008 · January 28, 2011 at 1:46 AM

Have any of you ever had an MSG reaction to the steak at Chipotle? Every time I get the beef, I inevitably wind up with "the big chill" creeping up the back of my neck. Would the carnitas or barbacoa be a smarter choice?

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788 · April 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Everything at Chipoltle except the Carnitas are cooked in soybean oil.

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922 · January 28, 2011 at 2:37 AM

i know that chipotle claims to use no additives - so if there was it would be a shocker.

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922 · January 28, 2011 at 2:35 AM

no idea about additives in the steak but to me there's something less appealing flavor-wise about it at chipotle. i get it sometimes but prefer the other meats, even the chicken.

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304 · January 27, 2011 at 6:24 PM

Did this today in NYC. Extra chicken (2 @ 2.07) - 4.14 Extra Barbacoa - 2.53 Guac - 2.07

Subtotal before tax 8.74

Yum. Definitely better than ordering the bowl with extra meat and adding guac. Although ordering online with veggies, double meat, guac, resulted in more food than ordering at the store.

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922 · March 31, 2011 at 8:14 PM

oh, duh! thanks

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543 · February 24, 2011 at 10:11 PM

he meant "on-line" ie computer- we do that in NYC:)

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922 · January 27, 2011 at 10:27 PM

what do you mean by ordering at the store - are you ordering from the cashier directly or something? I still go on line to get the meat in a bowl. So the meat helpings should be as generous as usual. You might be right about the guacamole line servers being more generous than that little cup but I've had some stingy ones too.

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0 · January 21, 2011 at 10:30 PM

How is this only 5 dollars? You got 3 servings of meat, and isn't a burrito bowl starting at 5.85 for Chicken? How do they only ring up this bowl of meat as $3.00 like you state?

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951 · September 18, 2011 at 11:58 PM

That was my question and I still don't get it :(. How can it be less than the starting price???

Ff07c9b246e67677d858e0e98bc023d4
0 · January 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM

NM. Makes sense now.

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