November 16, 2022
  • November 16, 2022

Chipotle’s New Garlic Guajillo Steak Review

By on September 13, 2022 0

Because our attention span has shrunk to the point where the the average goldfish has better concentration abilities – although, to be fair, I’m sure goldfish would perform a lot worse if they had access to TikTok – we live in a world where big chains constantly dangle shiny objects at us, hoping that the ‘we’ll be lured into their restaurants.

Seasonal elements. Limited time offerings. Novelty tastes. Complete overhaul of the menu. Whatever tactic they employ, channels aren’t just fighting for our attention. They also battle amongst themselves to see which trinkets shine the brightest. This year alone, my colleague Emily Heil and I wrote about the Big Cheez-It Tostada at Taco Bell, steakhouse burgers at Arby’s, pizza bowls at Papa Johns, and French toast sticks at Wendy’s. Some were as shiny as the bumper of a 1954 Buick.

By design and temperament, Chipotle hasn’t been the type of channel to dress up as a rainbow sparkle horse to get you to come home and play. Chipotle believes in53 ingredients you can pronounce,” not mac and cheese sticks dusted with atomic orange Cheetos powder, as artificial as the Las Vegas Strip in the middle of a desert. Amid the clown car that has become the fast food industry, Chipotle has managed to retain an ounce of dignity, at least in terms of menu development, if not always with working conditions.

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In recent years, when Chipotle introduced a limited-time item, you might not even notice it until you click on the main menu to select a protein. Last fall, the chain ignored those avoiding beef and rolled out smoked brisket, and earlier this year, Chipotle added pollo asado on the menu, even if both are only memories. Before the pandemic, the company was try some dishes for possible inclusion in the permanent menu. Four years later, it looks like a couple have made the cut, including quesadillas, which you can only order online, presumably to avoid a drag on the in-store line.

You have to give a lot of credit to Chipotle Chairman and CEO Brian Niccol. The guy who, during his time at Taco Bell, threw everything against the wall to see what would stick changed his sidewalk artist shtick to align with the more philosophical Chipotle ethos. The results speak for themselves.

Chipotle’s latest limited-time offering is the Garlic Guajillo Steak, available to wrap in your favorite protein carrier: burrito, bowl, salad, quesadilla, taco or any ingenious hack that you can convince the counter staff to accommodate. To be honest, the garlic guajillo steak sounds, based solely on the ingredient listmuch like preparing pollo asado, although as always the devil is in the details.

The new protein, available from Wednesday, starts with top sirloin and tri-tip cuts (usually from bottom sirloin), which are marinated, grilled, seasoned with garlic and guajillo peppers, sliced, then finished with a squeeze of lime and chopped cilantro. Garlic guajillo might be pollo asado in steer clothes, but you know what? I do not care. This stuff is as flavorful as mass-produced beef, right down to the sizable heat of guajillo and chipotle peppers, a pair of peppers not exactly known for their ability to fire up the palate.

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My issue, as always, is how Chipotle’s superb protein is regularly overshadowed by lesser ingredients. Despite its reputation for quality products, Chipotle is a company that makes its nuts based on fillers: rice, beans, salsa, lettuce. That’s why your burrito is, you know, $12 and not $16 or more. The model is, of course, the reason for Chipotle’s massive appeal: it appeals to both snobs and students, a pair of demographics with little overlap.

But here’s the thing: can I implore Chipotle to create another menu option? Allow diners to order the equivalent of a hot skillet loaded with chicken or barbacoa or garlic guajillo steak. Pair these proteins with flour tortillas, fajita vegetables and salsa. Let’s wrap the tortillas with all the meat we want, so we don’t have to rig the dish ourselves. What I’m asking for, in essence, is a platter of fajitas with those delicious strips of garlicky guajillo steak. I’ll pay what you want. Really.

Brian Niccol, can you make this happen?