Ah, Qdoba. I gave you three consecutive shots to prove to me that you’re something special. You’re alright, but I think it’d be best if we were just friends.

On Friday, July 6, my friend, Shauna, gave me this coupon for a $5 entree that I could use as much as I wanted until Sunday, July 8. Naturally, I got a queso steak burrito on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Friday, I was just tipsy enough not to have any significant feedback aside from, “burrito burrito burrito.” Saturday, I got it to go and ate it on a crowded T. I was more focused on not spilling rice and things all over peoples’ laps than savoring the contents within. I successfully devoured the entire thing without dropping a single grain of rice. Am I a burrito master or what? Sunday -the final day my coupon was valid- it was time to stop bullshitting. Judgment day has come.

In the first full bite, I got a mouthful of rice. There’s a lot of that, two scoops to be exact. It has a lime zest to it with some cilantro dancing around there. Then, there’s them beans. A decent amount of those that act as a cuddle buddy for the rice and solid neutralizer for the rest of the salty bonanza that is a Qdoba burrito.

We could probably add the steak to the neutral list. It’s a kind of chewy steak that melts in your mouth, but there’s a flavor lapse somewhere in between. It was something like, “mmm, steak *chew chew chew* wait, wh-where’d it go? What juST HAPPENED?” Perhaps not so dramatic, I don’t take my burritos that seriously. Wait, just kidding, I write letters to them. Anyway, I’m not sure what that says about the steak. Like, it’s cool that it melts in your mouth, but I was kind of hoping for some more flavor. It was like tofu, but meatier.

I don’t know if we could put the salsa on any list, it just wasn’t doing it for me. I thought it might’ve been the reason behind the zest in the rice, but no. A few solid bites of blatantly plain rice confirmed that the zest came from within. Maybe there wasn’t enough salsa…any of the three times. But I’m not going to complain about it. It clearly wasn’t the primary focus of this particular burrito and I understand.

I don’t think Qdoba’s very good at sauce in general. I’ve tried both of the hot sauces they leave out for you to bring to your table and, personally, I wasn’t blown away by either of them. One was a green jalepeno tabasco and the other, original Cholula hot sauce. I like my jalepenos fresh and my sauces fiery. The jalepeno tabasco resembled a jalepeno flavor, but it only reminded me of the jalepenos that could have been. How many burrito places do I have to begrudge because of their lack of jalepenos? As for the Cholula hot sauce, eh. It had an off-hot taste with an array of unique spices. It would be good on a more elaborate dish, perhaps. Burrito wise, it just wasn’t the sauce for me.

Every so often you feel a familiar crunch between your molars and you’re like, “oh yeah, lettuce is a thing.” It just doesn’t always fit in the burrito formula, sometimes it just lingers there, kind of like that boring friend you invite to tag along. This is one of those times. I’d suggest cabbage over lettuce if that’s an option at any burrito place. If not, whether or not you get the lettuce probably won’t make or break your burrito experience. I mean, I guess you can get it to pretend you’re healthy or something. While we’re on that healthy flow, the (new) whole wheat tortilla option at Qdoba gives your burrito the healthy demeanor it doesn’t deserves.

If it wasn’t the sauce or the veggies, where did all the flavor come from? Queso, oh, queso. Oh, what you do to me. You make my heart sing. Or scream because my arteries are clogging up. I can’t tell the difference, I’m only 19. Salty, cheesy goodness penetrates the rice, leaving little cheesy globs to surprise you in select places. I’m bloating and getting heartburn just thinking about it. It’s like a bad movie, you can’t turn away. It pumps the flavor you’re looking for into the burrito. It is the signature taste of a Qdoba burrito.

When queso is absent, you recognize the sour cream that has disguised itself in your rice. You can tell the difference between the plain, zesty mouthfuls of rice and those that father sour cream had swept through. The latter encompass a salty twang, otherwise absent in the citrus coated filler. Although mostly, it sinks to the bottom. A bit too watery for my liking (a revelation near the end of the burrito experience upon finding a pool of sour cream), but it does contribute that twang throughout, making it an honorary player in the formula.

Qdoba doesn’t hold a special place in my heart, but it’s alright. It’s that fling you had sometime between Labor Day and Columbus Day with..what’s his name? If sodium is your thing, though, you might find your place here. If you find yourself biting into a sour-cream-queso-filled remorse, just rotate your burrito and I can almost guarantee that you’ll get a mouthful of cilantro and lime-soaked goodness to stall your sorrows.


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