Smile and greet the staff
Chipotle workers, like everyone else in the world, go through their day jobs on autopilot. “Bowl or Burrito?” “For here or to go?” “You know guac costs $2.25 extra?”
If you don’t snap them out of assembly line mode, you’re going to get short changed. So when it’s your turn to order, pause for a brief second, look them in the eye confidently, ask them how they are doing, and WAIT until they respond before moving on. HOLD THAT LINE. You will literally watch this person wake up out of a coma. And now they are primed to make the best bowl ever. Speaking of which . . .
Get a bowl
I’m no mathematician, but you can squeeze roughly 12.5x the amount of food into a bowl as you can one of those tortillas. If you need a tortilla, ask for one on the side.
Also, if you give a damn about the nutritional value of your burrito, nix the tortilla entirely. You can check out Chipotle’s very own nutrition calculator or my article on eating healthy at Chipotle for more info.
No rice, extra beans
Variants of this work with just about all non-meat ingredients. Just say, “Instead of X, can I get extra Y?”
Calling out that you are giving up one thing (in this case, the rice) makes it way more likely that you will be rewarded with a massive portion of whatever it is that you really want.
FREE double meat
The best way is by befriending your Chipotle staff. If you’re like me, your an addict and you eat there daily or close to it. Which means you’ll have plenty of time to get to know them. So look each of them in the eye and ask how they are. Get their names. Remember these and greet them when you return, asking them how their weekend was or what they have planned when they get off work.
At the register, you’ll sometimes find your double meat is a single, guac is free, or the entire bowl is comped. If this happens, THANK THEM PROFUSELY! When you make people feel good about helping you, they’re more likely to help in the future.
Never say the word “double” or “extra”
“Double” and “extra” are code for “charge me more.” We want none of that. Instead, ask for “lots of meat.”
If pressed, just smile and say “Single meat. Just lots of it!” You should at least get a half scoop more at no extra charge.
Buy the gift cards
A few times a year, around graduation, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, [insert random holiday], Chipotle will offer $30 gift cards. The cool thing is that with each $30 gift card, you get a free burrito.
So assuming your burritos cost $7.50 each, you’re basically getting 5 burritos for the price of 4, saving $1.50 per burrito. 20% ain’t nothing to scoff at!
PLUS, if you’re smart, you’ll load up on double, double meat and guac when using your free bowl. So now you’re getting a $11 bowl totally free.
UPDATE: The best Chipotle hack yet – all sides
This is too good to be true . . .
This is the mackdaddy of all Chipotle hacks. You can order just sides of meat and guac. This will cost you $2.25 a side. So you can get chicken, steak, and guac in New York City all for just $7.75 (and cheaper in other parts of the country)!
But it gets better. Because this is such a rare ask, most servers tend to overscoop on the meat. The bowl just feels so light without the rice and beans! That means even more meat, muahahahaha. It is my new go-to and the BEST way to eat cheap, fast, and healthy (especially if you’re a Paleo guy, like me).
And if you must have salsa, get it in cups on the side. I’ve never been charged 🙂
Any hacks I missed? Feel free to post in the comments below.
LASTLY, to Steve Ells and all Chipotle management/workers who may read this: Please, please, please, do not start going super cost-saving, stingy on the portions!! Your generosity is why people like me go twice a day everyday and are even-f&%^ing-gelical about promoting your restaurant.
UPDATE: Well I spoke too soon. Chipotle cracked down on their workers, training them to give 4oz scoops like their lives depend on it. This makes the personal relationship so much more important if you’e going to get a sizable meal. You can also migrate to the other fast gourmet restaurants that have cropped up and are not so rigid with portion sizes (I have been a big fan of Cafe Rio lately – check it out if there is one in your area!)
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