Chipotle V Taco Bell


Mexican fast food restaurants have become more and more common recently, but Chipotle and Taco Bell remain two of the best-known and most popular options. Although they both have Mexican-inspired menus, they have distinct differences in many areas. To decide which is better, we looked at a couple of categories, including the freshness of ingredients and proximity to the Longfellow community.

“I feel like at Chipotle, the ingredients are fresher. At Taco Bell, everything seems a bit more packaged to me,” said Charles P. He gave Chipotle an 8 out of 10 and Taco Bell a 5.   

Taco Bell is frequently a target of questioning and criticism,  according to, a food review site. For example, sometimes Taco Bell’s beans are very dry, and sometimes they are too watery. According to the site, this problem has to do with the way the beans are prepared. 

“They don’t come in a typical bean form,” says. “According to one employee, they come in sacks, dried, and in a form that makes them look a little bit like the pellets you might more commonly associate with rabbit food. Employees add water and mix to rehydrate them into beans, and that’s why they’re never the same consistency.” 

Chipotle, on the other hand, prepares most of its menu items by hand, according to Business Insider. They once used tomatoes prepared at central facilities and shipped to locations in bags; however, they stopped in favor of onsite preparation. They installed dicing machines at their restaurants for fresher ingredients.

Per an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Inside Chipotle’s Kitchen: What’s Really Handmade,” employees spend about four hours every morning preparing the ingredients for lunch. The rice, guacamole, and even the chips are made on-site. Only a few ingredients –  the carnitas and barbacoa – are prepared at central locations.

The menus at these restaurants also provide a very different ordering experience. 

“At Chipotle, it’s very easy because if you’re in-person, you can just walk them through the bar, and if you’re ordering online, there’s a dropdown menu so you can select,” said Charles.  “At Taco Bell, I remember it kind of just being a menu.” He then went on to rate them for customizability: a 10 out of 10 for Chipotle and a 6 our of 10 for Taco Bell.

In a survey of 15 Longfellow Middle School students, the majority of surveyed students stated that there was a Chipotle near them, but they would have to drive for 10 minutes to get to a Taco Bell. This shows that it is easier for Mclean residents to get to a  Chipotle than a Taco Bell. There is a Chipotle on Old Dominion Drive, which is very convenient for most McLean residents, whereas the nearest Taco Bell is in Falls Church.

“There is a Chipotle that I could bike to, but I haven’t been to Taco Bell since I moved to Virginia,” Charles said. He said that the distance definitely impacted his likeliness of going.

Chipotle and Taco Bell offer very different styles of both fast food and their version of Mexican food. Based on both research and the opinion of Longfellow’s students, Chipotle is better than Taco Bell on all fronts. Chipotle’s fresh ingredients, customizability, and convenient locations make it the most desirable choice.