chipotle
I have had the following conversation about Chipotle several times with several people. (“Several people” = my friends who are dumb):

Several People: I hate Chipotle.
Me: Do you not like the taste?
Several People: It’s not Mexican food.
Me: I didn’t ask if it was Mexican food or if it wasn’t. Do you like the taste?
Several People: No.
Me: Why?
(Pause…thinking…glaring.,,)
Several People: It’s not Mexican food.

Chipotle is delicious food or, at the very least, it is innocuous food. But I hear so many people get bent out of shape because it is not “authentic” Mexican food. And that is true. It is not authentic Mexican food. And you know what? Who. The. Hell. Cares.

Chipotle tastes good. In fact I will go so far as to say that out of all the Mexican chain restaurants around, it is the best. So order up a double carnitas burrito with a side of chips and guac, shove it down your air hole, stop worrying about what constitutes authentic, and get on with your day.

People get so bunged up on what is authentic and what is not. If you want authentic Mexican food, go to an authentic Mexican restaurant. But just because it is authentic doesn’t mean it will taste yummy. Chipotle doesn’t claim to be authentic but it does claim to be yummy (it is), and to disparage it for not being 100% Mexican is doing a disservice to your taste buds.

And yes, the official title is “Chipotle’s Mexican Grill” so part of the problem belongs to the company. They probably should tweak the name and call it “Chipotle Essence Of Mexican Grill” or “Chipotle Kinda-Sorta Mexican Grill (In A Way),” but that would cost time and money to change it so I won’t rake them over the coals for not doing that. Besides, no one ever refers to it as “Chipotle Mexican Grill” anyway, which is all the more reason to not think of it as Mexican.

The trick is to not think of it as Mexican food. Thinking of it as truly Mexican will end up biting you in the ass and not in the good way. If you think of it as Mexican food you will end up more disappointed than my kids who now realize that I am going to be their dad forever. But if you think of it as just food – with no adjective, title, or description – then it is tasty goodness. Isn’t that good enough, especially from a place that in no shape, way or form looks like a Mexican restaurant*?

(*FYI, you’ll hear a lot of people disparage Chipotle even further by saying it is owned by McDonald’s. That is a filthy lie perpetrated by The Hamburglar. Chipotle used to be owned by McDonald’s but has been its own company since 2006. So there is another label you can remove from Chipotle as well.)

This is a good lesson in the problems of labeling. Once you label a thing a certain thing, it’s hard for that thing to be anything else but what you have labeled it. This is what Chipotle suffers from. But if you let go of that Mexican label that you are so insistent about giving to Chipotle, then your world opens up to all that Chipotle has to offer – yummy, reasonably healthy food served to you at a reasonable price.

Nineteenth-century Danish philosopher Kierkegard stated, “Once you label me you negate me.” Many people believe that he was speaking on the human condition of how once you label someone a specific way then that someone loses their identity. They are incorrect. He was actually talking about Chipotle’s Chicken Burrito Bowl.

So let’s not get all caught up in labels. There are a lot of crappier food joints that call themselves Mexican that taste way worse than Chipotle – Baja Fresh, La Salsa, Del Taco, El Pollo Loco. All of these blow mighty, mighty chunks. At least Chipotle is tasty and more than edible. If you are going to get mad at a Mexican Food chain get mad at Taco Hell, which should not even be considered Mexican.

It should not even be considered food.

And if you need any more convincing, just listen to this kid who knows exactly what’s up: