Cilantro Vs. Chipotle: Let’s Taco Bout it

Cilantro Replaces Chipotle in Lincoln Park


Approaching Cilantro for my first time was a nostalgic experience. I used to walk up to that exact door every single day after kindergarten, only back then, those doors led to something different. Chipotle. The minute I entered Cilantro, I was eager to determine which one would ultimately come out on top. 

Cilantro was not open to customers at the beginning of the summer when I left for Michigan. This was inconvenient timing for me given that I had been a loyal customer to the Chipotle that existed there before. Naturally, I knew I had to try its replacement. 

In between days of preseason field hockey, the last thing I wanted to eat was a taco. That sounded like a recipe for disaster to me. I told myself, “I’ll try it next weekend.” But weekend after weekend, I would forget. Finally, a few friends and I decided one night that it was time to try it. It was smack in the middle of the week, but we were willing to try it anyway. After our athletic endeavors, we were too tired to physically pick up the food, so we ordered in.

Each of us ordered different main courses so that we could try a little bit of everything. We ordered a quesadilla, nachos, burrito bowls, and tacos. I would have ordered a quesadilla, but they didn’t offer a gluten free accommodation for it, so I went the route that I knew best: tacos. I got three tacos with two sides of rice rather than the side of rice and beans that  came with it. 

The food came in a reasonable amount of time, and they didn’t forget any of the items in our order. Often when I order from Chipotle, they forget one or more parts of my order. This is the first category in which Cilantro beat Chipotle.

I started with the rice of course–my favorite. It was good. Not incredibly above average, but it still ended up being the best part of my meal. I ordered three tacos with three different meats, and the winner was definitely the pork. Some of my friends preferred the chicken. As for the actual taste of the food, Chipotle deserves a point.

I found most aspects of my meal very dry, and it was the type of dinner where I felt so gross afterwards that I swore I would never eat a taco again. However, shortly after, I decided that it was time to give Cilantro a second chance, but this time I would order in-person to give it a chance at redemption.

Walking up to the doors of Cilantro was a familiar feeling, but that feeling was cut off the moment I made it inside. The main thing that surprised me was the music. I was expecting upbeat and happy music, but I was met with intense music I’d never heard instead. 

The next thing that stood out to me was the way that the food wasn’t lying under the glass as it does at Chipotle. I would say this is one of the biggest differences between Cilantro and Chipotle. In addition to this, Cilantro has more options for meat–Chipotle only has six. One more point will go to each restaurant.

After I finished ordering the food, I set a timer. My food took seven minutes and 33 seconds before it was ready. I can’t imagine it’s ever taken me more than a minute or two to go down the line at Chipotle. In general, I would consider seven minutes a very fast time, but compared to Chipotle, it felt like ages. Yet another point for Chipotle.

As for the actual food, round two of Cilantro was much better than my prior experience. I was pleasantly surprised. I am not sure whether I ordered the wrong thing the first time or if the food traveled poorly, but this time was totally different. I also simplified my order by getting only the cilantro and onion topping. 

The food at each place isn’t similar enough to the point that I can compare them, so one more point goes to each. Cilantro has surprised me in a good way, but how does it ultimately compare to Chipotle?

The total point tally adds up to… 4-2, with Chipotle in the lead. Chipotle is a classic that I could never turn my back on–not even for the insane guacamole at Cilantro. Ultimately, if a burrito bowl from both Chipotle and Cilantro were placed in front of me, I would undeniably gravitate towards the Chipotle bowl. It is a classic, faster, tastier restaurant than Cilantro, and for that reason, I have decided to stand by Chipotle.