Fast Food Mexican Restaurants

Chipotle – Why is the Steak so Inconsistently Spicy and Chewy?

chipotle steak tacos chewy spicy

Chipotle is another one of those places that I decided I didn’t like before ever having come within 10 feet of. I had this notion that I wouldn’t like any tacos or burritos because I liked Taco Bell… Yes, you read that right. Because of the fact that I like Taco Bell tacos (just the normal tacos), I assumed that I would not like other places tacos because “cheese and lettuce only” isn’t really the norm when it comes to most taco places. A true mexican taco only has onion and cilantro on it, which doesn’t really sound like a very appetizing taco to me. So it was for that reason alone that I kept my distance from Chipotle. Obviously I’ve come to my senses and realized that you can can get tacos with just cheese and lettuce on them, at Chipotle, and nobody looks at you that strangely. What I’ve also realized in the course of my time enjoying Chipotle steak tacos is that the steak is very inconsistent in terms of chewiness and spiciness.

I know it’s not a fancy, sit down mexican restaurant, but for all of the stuff they spew about grass fed beef and natural ingredients, Chipotle sure has some shitty steak. I don’t think I’ve had a single meal from Chipotle that didn’t involve me spitting a piece of disgusting, half chewed steak into a napkin, hoping that nobody else saw me. It’s disgusting and embarrassing when you have to spit food into a napkin because there’s no possible way you’re going to be able to chew it enough to swallow. Although rare, I’ve had whole meals (3 tacos) where I’ve literally only been able to chew the meat until the seasoning is gone, then spit it out. It was like that scene in “Dogma” where the angel can’t drink liquor so he has to just swish it around in his mouth and then spit it out. I literally ate nothing but cheese, lettuce and chipotle spices. And speaking of the spices…

Why is it that the steak never tastes the same from one week to the next? I thought the whole point of fast food was to make it so efficient and consistent that you always got the same experience? One week the seasoning on the steak will be amazing, and I’ll have no problem just sucking it off and spitting out the meat (that’s what she said)… but then the next time I have it, the seasoning will be overly spicy and make that trip to the bathroom later in the day absolutely terrible. When I eat something spicy I know what I’m getting myself into, but I don’t necessarily need that amplified times 10 after eating a random batch of spicy tacos. And then on the other end of the spectrum, I’ve had times where there’s no seasoning at all and it’s just a hunk of almost flavorless, chewy steak. It’s as if someone took a stick of fruit stripes gum, chewed it for 30 seconds so all of the flavor was gone, then spit it into a taco shell with some cheese and lettuce… not appetizing. And I know I won’t stop going because the times I do get the perfect tacos, they are just that, perfect. Or at least they are perfect for a fast food taco. I can think of a few other restaurants that have much better tacos that I would enjoy spending my money at instead, but I can’t be spending $15 on tacos every week.

Oh, and if you’re thinking to yourself, “Why doesn’t he just get the chicken or the other weird meat and quit his bitching?” And you make a good point, and I have tried that, but the chicken just doesn’t hold a candle to the times I get good steak at Chipotle. I would rather eat 5 chewing gum filled steak tacos than eat the chicken ones, that’s how much I despise them. Aside from steak or beef tacos, the only other type of taco I’ll really dive into is a pulled pork one… and even those have to be pretty damn good.

So does anyone else have this chewy steak problem at Chipotle or am I the only asshole who doesn’t know how to properly chew his food? Maybe I have soft teeth, or I’m not manly enough to rip through the flesh of a dead cow… Whatever it is, it’s not going to stop me from going back to Chipotle (hell, I had it yesterday), but if you see me spitting into a napkin while eating there, now you’ll know why.

About the author

Tom

I'm a married man in his 30's who doesn't really "like" food. If it weren't for my wife I would be living off of pizza and cheeseburgers for the rest of my life. Follow me as I venture slightly out of my comfort zone to try different foods and restaurants.

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  • I don’t have the chewiness problem per say. I don’t think I have ever spit out a piece of steak from there. But I do agree that the food at Chipotle is wildly inconsistent. There are times where it’s the best burrito I have ever had and others where it tastes worse than Taco Bell (which I also like). For this reason I am always weary of trying a Chipotle I have never been to before.

  • Wow, how comes this post does not have more comments???

    This has been my biggest complaint about Chipotle steak. 70% of the time I have to spit a few bites out because it’s completely unchewable. It’s like I’m chewing meat-flavored gum, and quite frankly it’s disgusting. And it doesn’t matter what location I go to. It’s consistent across all locations.

    What brought me here? Earlier today, I went to a Chipolte down the street from my house and got steak tacos. I haven’t had their steak in over 2 years because of my prior experiences with it, but I decided to give it a try again. 2 Years later, same friggin problem. I couldn’t chew the steak. It was soft and rubbery and wouldn’t break down in my mouth.

    I thought to myself, “I can’t be the only one” who thinks this. So I Googled “Chipolte chewy steak” and found your post. Just shocked that more people aren’t talking about it. Or maybe they don’t care about unchewable steak and just swallow it. I don’t know. 😐

    • I’m glad you took the time to post so I know I’m not the only one. Every time I go to Chipotle I think to myself “I’ll just get steak tacos cause there’s no way it can STILL be chewy”, yet it still is, and I’m still disappointed. Chipotle did tweet back at me once regarding this issue and said that if the steak is chewy that the employees aren’t trimming the steak properly before cooking… I think even though it might be grass-fed cows, it’s just a low quality cut of steak. Oh well, I’ll continue to test my luck only because it tastes so good, I just hope they switch something up sooner, rather than later. Thanks again for the comment.

    • How ironic…I just spit out like 4 bites of my steak quesadilla for various reasons whether it was grissle or bubblegummy steak – and asked one of my coworkers if their steak has always been spicy or is it just me? I wasn’t happy with today’s experience at all!

  • You are defiantly not the only one with this experience. I quit eating there a while ago because of the shitty cuts of steaks and the season on both chicken and steak being too much. I Dont get why they can’t fix its bee that way for as long as I can remember. I spit out a bunch of chewy steak.

  • I just googled the same terms Chipotle chewy steak to see if I was alone. Its an obvious problem, I mostly get carnitas or barbacoa but steak every now and then I dont remember it being so damn chewy but I guess that’s why I had switched to the other meats. ITs just a damn shame I used to talk high remarks about this place.

  • Firstly, try working there and see how perfect ur food comes out. 2nd, some people, like myself, prefer chewier steak over leather steak. 3rd, we have employers working desperately hard to make it better and sometimes employees don’t cook it by the book. 4th, if it was that big of an issue, we would have fixed it already. 5th, if u don’t like it, stop eating it. We have billions of other customers who love it. 6th, quit ur bitchin, there are billions of other people who would be grateful for food like ours. Not everybody has spoiled tastebuds.
    By all means, enjoy your $1 junk at Taco Hell

    • Firstly, the food would come out even worse if I worked there, I can’t cook for shit. 2nd, I don’t understand how you could prefer steak so chewy that you can’t even chew it to the point where you can swallow it? I understand wanting your steak medium-rare vs well done, but that’s not what we’re discussing here, this has nothing to do with the cooking of the meat, it’s the cut/quality. 4th, I’ve complained multiple times and the response I get is that the employees must not be trimming the steak properly before cooking it, but I don’t think it’s the employees fault if multiple locations around the country have the same problem. So I am by no means blaming the employees; if that’s how you took this I apologize. 5th, I have pretty much stopped eating it, this post was written over a year ago. 6th, this whole site is dedicated to me bitching, so that would kind of defeat the purpose. I’m sorry if I personally offended you, but everyone has food they like and don’t like… I actually really like Chipotle, but the quality of the steak over the years has, sadly, turned me away from it. At least taco bell is always consistent, whether you like it or not, it always tastes the same.

    • Great comment. That is what traing is for that attitude is why they have lost 10 million in sales for the third straight year in a row good luck Chipotle. And by the way no one likes chewy steak, that’s what gum is for. I’ve had to get the steak bowl a couple of times cuz I know this will be a big shock to everyone, they were out of chicken @ 6:30 every time returned it for a chicken bowl my fault should have just waited.

  • Tom, I am with you. I have decided to stop eating there because of the terrible steak. I think most people just move on but people have a right to voice their disapproval and let others know.

  • Just came from Chipotle and the meat was like chewing gum. Definitely a cheap cut and there was no fat. I complained and they said they cook it rare. (You’d never get it this way in Mexico!) Anyway I had then give me the barbacoa which is cooked to death.

  • Couldn’t agree with you more Tom! You had me laugh out loud a few times too. I have also stopped eating at Chipotle because of the chewy steak and the chicken just doesn’t do it for me either. Thanks for your well written and hilarious thoughts!

  • I completely agree with you. That is how I stumbled onto this page. I feel like I’m crossing my fingers every time I take a bite of Chipotle steak. Either the bite is going to be heavenly or gross and unchewable. I love the heavenly bites and won’t give up Chipotle but just today I had to spit out 4 pieces of steak in front of other people because it was not edible. I wish Chipotle was at least trying to fix this problem.

  • OMFG!!! The chewing muscles I have on the sides of my head be swollen after I eat a steak burrito bowl from chipotle it is ridiculous it is soooo chewy its like a hard but soft piece of gum. Have you tried a fairly new restaurant called Dos Toros Tacos they are like chipotle but MUUCCHH better the steak is perfect it has much better flavor. Chipotle definitely has a problem in theyre hands

  • all the money these chains are making you would think they could provide quality cuts of steak. if we are spitting pieces out because it doesn’t break down they need to fix it. i’m thinking of ordering without any meat and cooking and adding my own steak at home. the steak cuts are terrible.

  • I’ve been a vegetarian for over a decade and absolutely love the veggie bowl! Sooo good… my experience with the veggie options is that they’re pretty consistent (barring a couple crunchy brown rice tragedies). I’ve just started transitioning back to eating meat because I’m starting to develop cavities. I’ve tried the chicken once (blah), and am currently suffering through the steak. I think I’ve spit out every half chewed piece… I never understood why some people said they hated Chipotle, but now I get it. Just eat it without meat, you won’t be disappointed!

    • Wait.. I’m confused!? You’re complaining that being a vegetarian is causing you to get cavities!? Haha I don’t think eating veggies is causing your cavity situation..

  • Is it really steak tho? It has the consistency of fake steak in my opinion. I’m a steak lover but I’ve never had steak that looks or feels like this nasty, chewy, rubbery, artificial-like mess Chipotle calls steak.

    • it’s definitely steak, but I don’t believe it’s a very high grade quality of steak… either that or it’s trimmed completely wrong at most locations.

  • I have the same problem with chewy steak…after a very long time i tried their steak again….As horrible as it was before the food born outbreaks happened…i had to spit out almost 20% of the steak in the bowl, non chewable, it’s almost like no butchering was involved to process this meat. Qdoba had best steak back in the day until it closed few years back in my area.

    • I tried over and over again to give them another chance, but after so many terrible experiences with the steak, I finally gave up. It’s been years since I’ve had Chipotle and with the food born outbreaks as of late, I’m pretty happy with my decision.