Popular fast-food burrito chains Chipotle, Qdoba, and Illegal Pete's were founded in Colorado.
After recently moving to the state, I wanted to compare veggie burritos from its three famous chains.
I thought Chipotle had the best flavor and texture, and I'm not surprised that the chain has earned a worldwide fanbase.
After moving to Denver, I decided to try and rank burritos from three fast-food chains originating in Colorado.
Qdoba Mexican Eats and Chipotle Mexican Grill — two of the country's most popular burrito chains — both got their start in Denver, Colorado.
After moving to Denver the summer, I learned there was another local fan favorite called Illegal Pete's.
The burrito company started in Boulder, Colorado, in 1995, and two decades later, there are a dozen Illegal Pete's chains sprinkled across Colorado and Arizona, according to the company's website.
I compared flour tortilla burritos filled with white rice, black beans, pinto beans, veggies, pico de gallo, hot salsa, cheese, sour cream, and guacamole from each location.
Since I don't eat meat, I opted for my go-to veggie burrito order from the three fast-food chains.
At around $8, Qdoba and Chipotle's veggie burritos cost about the same, and Illegal Pete's was the only chain that charged $2 more for guacamole.
One of Qdoba's biggest appeals to me is that guacamole doesn't cost extra on any of their burritos. My total came out to $8.25 before tax.
At Chipotle, a veggie burrito without meat includes free guacamole and costs $7.65 before tax, the cheapest of the three burritos.
The veggie burrito at Illegal Pete's came out to $10.18 before tax since the guacamole cost an extra $2.19.
Each burrito looked and felt to be about the same size and heft.
I typically think of Chipotle's burritos as being mammoth in size, so I was surprised that each burrito seemed to be about the same amount of food.
Qdoba's burrito looked the most appealing to me with the tortilla's toasty brown spots, but the flavor didn't hold up to the looks, in my opinion.
Qdoba's burrito tasted too bland to me.
I thought the rice, beans, and veggies lacked any strong flavors, and the salsa didn't really make up for it.
I felt there was too much rice and not enough of the other fillings in my Qdoba burrito, which earned it third place in my ranking.
I had three consecutive bites of just rice while eating the burrito. Where were all the extra toppings? I never really found them.
But the tortilla, which was the thinnest of the three, was my favorite.
Without any standout flavors, though, I thought Qdoba's veggie burrito left a lot to be desired.
Illegal Pete's was the only chain that mixed its burrito's fillings before wrapping it up, which I thought was a nice touch.
Thinking that the ingredients in my burrito were well combined, I expected to have a little bit of everything in each bite.
Unfortunately, my first few bites were just the tortilla.
Illegal Pete's tortilla was by far the thickest of the three, and by the time I finally got to the fillings, I was already starting to get full.
The burrito had the best salsas, in my opinion, but it got soggy too quickly for my liking, earning it second place in my ranking.
I was disappointed by how few veggies I found wrapped inside my Illegal Pete's burrito, but I thought the flavors were strong, which moved the burrito up in my ranking.
After I tried all three burritos, I came back to Illegal Pete's for a second taste. This time, though, the bottom of the tortilla was soggy, bumping it to second place out of the three chains.
I thought Chipotle's colorful veggies, bright salsa, and cilantro rice were familiar and as delicious as ever.
Chipotle is my go-to stop for fast-food burritos, and I quickly learned why after trying each chains' burritos back-to-back.
While the Chipotle burrito was the messiest for me to eat, it had the most variety in flavors.
I noticed a smokey flavor coming from the hot salsa and grilled vegetables that neither Illegal Pete's nor Qdoba's burritos had.
That, combined with the bright flavor from the pico de gallo, created a variety of tastes that coated my entire mouth.
The burrito had the best flavor and texture, in my opinion, making it first place in my ranking.
I also noticed many more distinguishable textures inside Chipotle's burrito compared to the other two.
The fajita veggies were the crunchiest of the three chains', which paired well with the creaminess from the guacamole and sour cream.
Out of the three burritos, I thought Chipotle's had the most complex textures and tastes.
Overall, I thought Chipotle and Illegal Pete's offered the most flavorful veggie burritos. But Chipotle's burrito came out on top thanks to its price, texture, and flavor.
I don't think you can beat $8 for a smoky, creamy, and satisfyingly crunchy veggie burrito. Chipotle was — and will continue to be — my fast-food burrito chain of choice.
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