Point-counterpoint: Pancheros or Chipotle?

Two columnists discuss which fresh Mexican grill is best, Pancheros or Chipotle.

November 26, 2018

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Pancheros is the hometown hero

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Pancheros is the hometown hero

Whether you’re hungry after a night out or having a late-night craving after studying, Pancheros is always there. Since 1992, the original Panchero’s has served up burritos to hungry University of Iowa students and will always be the go-to.

Pancheros claims to have “better-built burritos,” and honestly, it does. Between the made-to-order tortilla and that the employees mix the ingredients, Chipotle doesn’t stand a chance.

Pancheros has the same exact ingredients. It also actually knows how to make amazing queso, too (sorry, Chipotle — you really tried). On top of that, how can you say no to that tortilla? Pancheros tortillas are soft and warm and could never do any harm. Even hours after being ordered, the tortilla is still just as amazing as it was when it was first made.

Chipotle, however, has cold and brittle tortillas that it just warms up. Its meat is dry, and that makes for a sad burrito. The only good things Chipotle has going for it is that it offers brown rice and that its chips are good. It also has more options. However, just because it has more options doesn’t mean it’s better overall. For the sake of options and healthiness, Chipotle sacrifices quality.

Even though Pancheros isn’t as “healthy” as Chipotle and its menu is pretty basic, it’s still the better burrito place. Honestly, who gets a burrito to be healthy, and why change a good thing trying to be fancy? Combine that with Pancheros being open later and that it’s Iowa City’s original burrito place, Pancheros is the obvious choice.

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Chipotle is a more natural choice than Pancheros

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Chipotle is a more natural choice than Pancheros

Living in Iowa City has introduced me to food establishments such as Pancheros as an alternative to the Chipotle I grew up to know and love in Naperville, Illinois. However, other than Pancheros’ chips and queso, Chipotle still remains my one and only true love for commercialized Mexican food.

Question: Which fresh Mexican grill is best?

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The killer fact that cements my love for Chipotle over Pancheros is that all of its ingredients are real. With responsibly raised livestock, local produce, and organic ingredients, Chipotle is far more healthy than Pancheros while still offering the bonus of great taste. Pancheros is not nearly as devoted to food activism as Chipotle is, and it shows in its website, which doesn’t mention anything about where their ingredients really come from and how they were produced.

Now I’m not going to lie. Pancheros does offer a certain curb appeal in Iowa City, especially during nightlife, when the streets are crawling with hungry college kids looking to snag a bite after a night out. The establishment also preaches about the excellence of its tortillas, which are firm (never tear) and hand-crafted and -pressed by employees.

However, if you’re actually thinking about the items you put into your body, Chipotle would be the obvious choice, because it provides its customers with natural ingredients that have no added colors, preservatives, flavors, or GMOs.

When thinking about the ideals and priorities of a company for its customers, Pancheros does not meet the gold standard for me. Taking care of customers by serving them nothing but real, organic foods is paramount to the success of a company because it shows it has a responsibility to their consumers’ health and cares about what they put into their bodies.

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