Chipotle in Europe: How Does it Compare?

Thrifty Travel Mama | Chipotle in Europe: How Does it Compare?Hey, hey, happy February!  ‘Tis the Valentine season, and cupid’s quiver is full of posts on…. Paris!  I’ll be sharing all sorts of adventures, tips, and tricks for visiting the city of love with kids (oh, how romantic!) in the next few weeks.

Other gals may go for diamonds, truffles, or expensive perfume and whatnot.  But, me?  I’m much easier to please.  A three-pound burrito wrapped in shiny tinfoil should do it.

Chipotle… in Europe?

While we were in the magical city of Paris, we savored our first taste of Chipotle in nearly eight months.  It was the lovely Maria of Busy as a Bee in Paris who first gave the heads up that the burrito king was in town.

Not long after, my friend Christy in Estonia (hi, Christy!) broke some even bigger news to me… Chipotle had recently set up shop in Frankfurt!  We needed to renew T-Rex’s passport in early January, and naturally we’d all be absolutely starving and in search of lunch after the morning appointment…

In a span of two weeks, we had eaten our hearts out at Chipotle in France and Germany

Chipotle… in Europe?  I must be dreaming.  But, I’m not.. they have SIX locations in London too!

So… How’s it Taste?

This is the real question, isn’t it?  If you slap a Chipotle sign on a mediocre Mexican joint, really, what’s the point?  The authenticity of ingredients and flavors is what’s important.

In short, both the Paris and Frankfurt locations dished up burritos and salads that tasted very close to American Chipotle cuisine.  However, we noticed a few slight differences.

German Chipotle:

  • Serves lemon-cilantro rice, not lime, that is extremely cheap in the worst way (think Uncle Ben’s, not basmati).
  • Beans are not as savory, especially the black ones.
  • Marinade on the chicken wasn’t as flavorful.
  • Salad dressing packs a punch – it’s much spicier than at home – and is noticeably creamier.
  • Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa tastes even better than in America with a delicious, gentle heat.

French Chipotle:

  • Rice was also lemon instead of lime, but of better quality.
  • Salad dressing was extremely close to the original, but it had a subtle difference we couldn’t place.  Another taste test is on order..
  • Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa is full of flame; our mouths were on fire!

In both the French and German locations, the portions were petty.  However, the staff acquiesced each time I begged for “a little more” of each ingredient.

Thrifty Travel Mama | Chipotle in Europe: How Does it Compare?

Chipotle in Frankfurt, Germany

What’s Different?

Not much is physically different in the Paris and Frankfurt locations.  Both interiors are all done up in the same wood and stainless theme.  The brown paper packaging, logo napkins, clear plastic cutlery, Tabasco sauce bottles… it’s all there.  Even the water dispenser looks identical.

(Oh, and the water is free.  Some restaurants in Germany will serve you complimentary tap water but not cheerfully.)

The biggest difference between the American Chipotle and the French and German Chipotle restaurants is the price.

Both European locations charge 9 euros per entree (burrito, tacos, salad, bowl) with your choice of one meat (chicken, steak, barbacoa, etc).  All the toppings are included except guacamole which comes with an additional 3 euro charge.  Yikes.

Currently, a Chipotle chicken burrito in our old Orlando location costs $6.25 (steak, carnitas, or barbacoa will set you back $6.65).  If you were to convert the 9 euro German burrito price tag to dollars, you’d be looking at $12.15 per burrito… or almost double!  If you want guac with that, be prepared to fork over $16.20!

Thrifty Travel Mama | Chipotle in Europe: How Does it Compare?

Chipotle in Paris, France.

That’s some serious cash for a beans & rice fix.  You might be wondering… why are the entrees so expensive?

The simple answer: ingredients.  To make Chipotle’s marinades, salsas, dressings, and other delicious menu items, you need foreign ingredients like chipotle peppers, tomatillos, cilantro, adobo, jalapeños, poblano peppers, and chiles de arbol.  These are usually Mexican or American products which means that they need to cross an ocean.

Unfortunately, the European palate doesn’t seem to be suited for frijoles which means that the demand isn’t high enough to produce these kinds of ingredients within the EU (perhaps climate is an issue as well) which would help reduce costs considerably.

Now, I can’t say I’ve ever asked for “everything” on my burrito back in America, but both the French and German Chipotle locations allowed us to order every single topping (except guacamole – see above) without charging extra.  I seem to recall that the fajita vegetables were instead of beans and that one may order cheese or sour cream.  At the European restaurants, you can have it all!

At least there’s a small consolation when it comes to order budget (and waist-line) busting burritos…

The Verdict

Frankfurt is our closest Chipotle location, but it’s still two and a half hours away.  When we add the price of fuel to cost of a burrito, it ends up being too expensive and time-consuming to be worthwhile.

In Paris, I was shocked when I realized that 9 euros for a quick dinner was average, so there’s a good chance we’d be regulars if we lived there.

For now, we’re happily obsessed with our town’s taco truck.  But, that’s not to say we wouldn’t indulge if we happened to be in Frankfurt… and I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t jump at the chance to try a British branch of Chipotle!

Any Londoners out there want to host a family of five for the weekend?  Burritos are on us!

Have you tried Chipotle in Europe?  If not, would you pay 9 euros for a burrito with authentic Mexican ingredients?

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16 thoughts on “Chipotle in Europe: How Does it Compare?

  1. This is all over my head – I’m obviously not as familiar with the scene as you are! But I do love musing over the ways in which international chains localise their food. They seem more prepared to do it these days and I think it’s all to the good. The world gets boring if it’s the same wherever (although it’s always a shock when the difference is a double-sized price tag!)

  2. You have just made my day. I’m in Mainz, and I think a trip to Frankfurt is going to need to happen ASAP to get a Chipotle fix! Husband and I make Mexican at home a lot, but yes its hard and expensive to find the ingredients. I’m glad to hear the food is pretty authentic and close to what you get in the US.

  3. Great Post! I think this is unfortunately the norm in Europe – chains just can’t stack up to back in North America…probably in part due to the difficulty in ingredient procurement, but also in regulations (as some oils, additives, etc. aren’t always allowed because of the stricter health regulations).

    As budget travelers we also had a tough time in Paris. We stuck to the great ethnic foods (plus plenty of falafel from L’As du Falafel – if it’s good enough for Lenny Kravitz…), and we managed to make it though! Safe travels!

    • Travis – you are right about the ingredient restrictions. I had forgotten about that! I recently saw a comparison of the ingredients in British McD’s fries and American McD’s fries.. the UK version was half the size of the US list!

      I have a post coming on budget eats in Paris, but you are right on. It was difficult to eat out there (especially for a family of 5!). We also loved the Falafel!

  4. I have never been to a chipotle but my family loves the restaurant. I have even quite surprised on our travel how much Mexican food has taken of some the last time we traveled. It makes me very happy!

  5. As a Texan living in Malaysia, I would be over the moon with excitement if a Chipotle opened up here. I keep trying to get my Mexican friends here to open up a taco stand, but I will have to be satisfied with just getting invited over for potluck dinners. When I’m really longing for TexMex, I don’t mind paying a little extra. For example, I just had a can of Campbell’s Homestyle Chicken Tortilla soup that I paid US$5.30 at the local grocery store.

    • Hey, you can’t go wrong with potluck dinners :) The only problem is that you need to get your friends to cook and invite you over! Wow, that is crazy expensive for soup, but I can relate. Sometimes you just need something familiar and comforting.

  6. I love this post!! This is the kind of thing I would do as I LOVE American chains and love a good burrito. This is the first time I’ve admitted I went to Taco Bell in Iceland…I was so excited to have found it. I won’t tell you how many times I visited!! I haven’t actually ever tried Chipotle but will definitely add it to my list now! My dream would be to find a Rubio’s….best tacos EVER!!

    Hmm…off to London in a couple of weeks and wondering if I should try to visit a chipotle then…..!!!

  7. Pingback: Cheap (Family) Eats: Paris Edition | Thrifty Travel Mama

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