It was during an otherwise normal lunch break in January that Gut Check first heard tell of Chipotle's "secret menu." While waiting in the restaurant's service assembly line, we overheard a customer ahead of us order an "adult" quesadilla. Our ears immediately perked up. When our turn to order arrived, we asked about the grown-up 'dilla.
"Quesadillas are on our kids' menu, but we can add ingredients to them if customers ask us to," the employee replied, adding:
"We sort of have a secret menu at Chipotle."
Those fateful words led us to call Chipotle's corporate communications director, Chris Arnold, who hastily assured us no "secret menu" exists.
"It's not at all a Chipotle secret menu," he said. "It's not ours, and it doesn't really exist. The way our restaurants should work is they make anything they can with what they have."
Well, OK then, we thought -- and considered the matter resolved.
Then last week Fast Company published an article about Chipotle's alleged secret menu, focusing on one particular urban-legend menu item: the quesarito, a quesadilla-burrito hybrid that is to the burrito what the turducken is to the Thanksgiving turkey. The writer, Mark Wilson, contacted our buddy Chris Arnold, who gave Riverfront Times a hat tip for inquiring about the secret menu weeks earlier...and then spilled the frickin' pinto beans to Wilson.
Following the Fast Company story, outlets including BuzzFeed, MSN Now, Eater and the Daily Mail wrote about the quesarito curiosity.
Gut Check vowed to get to the bottom of this Chipotle secret menu business once and for all, and to eat a quesarito. Even if it kills us.
We first stopped in the newly opened Chipotle Mexican Grill (212 South Grand Boulevard; 314-342-9919) inside the iconic Mid-Century Modern "flying saucer" on South Grand Boulevard near Saint Louis University in pursuit of a quesarito. This wasn't an entirely fair move on our part, as this location had literally opened its doors the day before our visit, and business was booming.
We got in line, our excitement and anticipation piqued. We approached the order queue and asked a Chipotle employee if she could make us a quesadilla, then use said quesadilla as the wrapper for a burrito.
Her face lit up: "You mean a quesarito?! Yes, we can absolutely make that! We can make anything you want!"
Alas, the plan soon fell apart. To our great disappointment, an staffer further down the line politely informed her co-worker they weren't supposed to make quesaritos when it's busy. We asked if we could wait around to see if the line abated. Perhaps feeling sorry for us, the employees assented.
Well, that fell apart, too. A manager approached our table -- ostensibly to wipe it down and greet us, but clearly he'd probably made us for the desperate quesarito seeker we are. He asked with a show of concern whether we were waiting flor a food order.
"No, we're waiting till business slows to order a quesarito," we replied with dumb enthusiasm.
Not knowing who he was dealing with, he told us there was no such thing as a quesarito. It took a little prodding, but eventually he acknowledged that he was familiar with the beast.
"I'm afraid we can't make those here," he added apologetically.
You know, as apologetic as one can sound while ripping your beating heart out of your chest.
If there's one thing Gut Check prides ourself on, it's knowing when we've been beaten, and we knew it was fruitless to stick around the flying saucer any longer. Before we left, though, we quizzed the manager on the lore of the quesarito.
He told us it got its start in "Pacific markets," that it's messy and time-consuming to make and that because it's not a menu item employees are trained to prepare, there's no real process to go by or way to control quality, flavor, etc.
Basically it's much more trouble than it's worth. (Which could be said of Gut Check in this scenario, as well.)
Defeated by the new flying saucer Chipotle but undaunted in our pursuit of the quesarito, we drove to a second Chipotle location where we had more luck -- well, sort of.
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