Chipotle isn’t like the other fast-casual restaurant chains. They serve food just as quickly as the local burger joint, but they also offer health-conscious, additive-free meals. Ironically, the company’s focus on quality has forced them to leave customer favorites, like queso, off the menu. Until now.
Cheese-lovers rejoice: Chipotle recently announced they are working on a queso option that’s in line with the rest of the company’s menu.
Why No Queso?
It’s hard to believe a Mexican restaurant could exist without queso. This cheesy delight is basically liquid gold that makes anything you put it on taste better. Chipotle is well aware that it’s the only chain Mexican restaurant with this hole in the menu, but we promise their reason for leaving it off is rooted in love.
Chris Arnold, a Chipotle spokesperson, discussed the chain’s queso conundrum with foodie site Munchies.
“Queso is something that we do get requests for from time to time, but it’s very difficult to do it in a way that is consistent with our food philosophy,” said Arnold.
“To make queso in a way that is stable on the service line pretty much requires artificial ingredients (such as stabilizers to keep its consistency). That’s just not what we do.”
Groundbreaking Fast-Casual Dining
In 2015, Chipotle became the first national restaurant company to use non-GMO ingredients exclusively. The company took it upon themselves to change its practices with the goal of creating healthier options for their customers.
Chipotle now only uses suppliers who farm non-GMO plant varieties. They’ve also changed their chicken, steak, and tortilla recipes to support the use of non-GMO ingredients. Chipotle CEO and founder Steve Ells shared the reasoning behind this move in an interview with NPR.
“I don’t think this is about GMOs being harmful or not being harmful to your health,” said Ells. “It’s a bigger picture. It’s really part of our food with integrity journey.”
Wave Bye-Bye to Additives
Chipotle didn’t stop at eliminating GMOs. The company completely removed all added colors, artificial flavors, and preservatives from their products. The chain takes pride in limiting all menu items to just 51 all-natural ingredients.
Thankfully, Chipotle executives has heard our cries for queso and on July 10, 2017, they announced the opening of a company test kitchen. This endeavor will offer potential new items for the public to taste, and queso will be included on this test menu.
“If a dish is super popular in this very controlled setting and if all things are in place in terms of staff training, new items will be rolled out to one or several markets, from 20 locations to a couple hundred,” said Ells.
Cross your fingers and hope that queso makes the cut. That’s the only way it will reach a Chipotle location near you.
Other Additive-Free Options
Chipotle isn’t the only chain restaurant moving towards additive-free ingredients. People are demanding more health-conscious food options, and businesses are listening.
The names on this list of healthy fast food options may surprise you, but that goes to show how strong an influence a customer’s voice can be. Pizza Hut and Papa John’s have both pared down their menus by removing additives, and even places like Subway and Taco Bell are offering more healthy fast food options.
So if you must eat fast food, now you know the best places to go. Meanwhile, keep your eye on your local Chipotle menu. Your queso dreams are closer to coming true than ever.