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Restaurant review: Columbus’ new Qdoba Mexican Grill strikes down High Street Goliath Chipotle

Matt Borcas / Lantern reporter

When it comes to grabbing a burrito on High Street, hungry patrons typically turn to Chipotle Mexican Grill. But after eating at the new Qdoba Mexican Grill, located at 1956 N. High St., which opened last week, I now have a different idea in mind to satisfy my craving.

While Chipotle is known for fresh ingredients, Qdoba offered some competition in that department. I ordered a heavily-packed burrito, and while it’s improbable, I believe that the chicken in it was running around a Columbus area coop just hours earlier. The peppers, onions, corn and beans had to be harvested from an Indianola Avenue vegetable field – that’s how fresh this burrito tasted.

This sentiment fits in with Qdoba’s rustic, barnyard essence of decor. Other than a mesmerizing touch-screen soda fountain, the establishment is dimly lit, almost like an Abercrombie & Fitch that sells Mexican cuisine instead of tight-fitting rugby shirts.

The restaurant was sufficiently staffed. Employees sported T-shirts that read “Food For People Who Love Food.”

It remains to be seen how Qdoba will fare against the High Street Mexican grill Goliath, Chipotle. Perhaps the two can co-exist, but I have my doubts. A rivalry might soon emerge, which means quirky promotions and frequent discounts, which is good news for burrito-loving Ohio State students.

As far as prices go, Qdoba is a little more expensive than its competition. A chicken burrito at Qdoba costs $6.39, compared to $6.25 for a chicken burrito at Chipotle, and a steak burrito costs $6.99 at Qdoba, which is also more expensive than Chipotle’s $6.65 burrito.

But unlike Chipotle, Qdoba features two high-definition TVs, conveniently-placed so that I could enjoy my burrito and learn via closed-captioning what Kobe Bryant thought about Tuesday night’s Lakers game. The only noise, however, was the loose chatter of diners as they digested their salsa-laden dishes. Is it too much to ask for some catchy mariachi music?

The absence of music was Qdoba’s only fault. My burrito was better than anything I’ve ever had at Chipotle, which is saddening because I have a $25 Chipotle gift card that I presume will go unused.

With so many committed eaters on or near campus, this Qdoba is surely destined to become one of the country’s highest-grossing chain restaurants. A more accurate slogan than its current one would be “Changing The World One Tortilla at a Time.”

Grade: A

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