I’m on a mission to order low carb at the top 30 fast food chains in the US. One month is what I’ve given myself to complete the mission, so I’ll be eating a lot of fast food over the next 30 days.
If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to updates at the end of this post.
For each fast food restaurant I’m evaluating:
- Availability of low carb entrees (less than 20 net carbs).
- Satiety of low carb entrees.
- Price of low carb entrees.
- Taste of low carb entrees.
- Ordering experience.
My most recent stop was at Chipotle which has a couple locations within 2 miles of my house.
I don’t go to Chipotle often, but after this experience, I will be.
Overall Ratings for Chipotle
I rate Chipotle as low-carb heavenly. You can build your own low carb bowls from several different quality meat, veggie, and sauce options. The restaurant is clean and smartly designed. The servers are friendly and have a sense of humor. I like it.
- Low carb friendly – Yes
- Low carb entrees on menu – Yes. Their salads & bowls become low carb when you omit the rice and beans.
- Satiety of low carb entrees – Average. I ordered a heaping salad and yet I remember telling my friend who ate lunch with me that I could have easily eaten another one.
- Taste of low carb entrees – Excellent. My salad tasted amazing.
- Price / value of low carb entrees – Average. I paid $10.60 for a salad with extra chicken and guacamole and I probably could have eaten two salads which would have put my lunch tab over $20. The Chipotle experience sparks joy so I’m willing to pay the premium.
- Ordering experience – Excellent. The server gave me huge heaps of chicken, sour cream, and guacamole. The checkout guy playfully made fun of my snapback hat. Everything looked clean and delicious behind the display case. I was impressed.
I had such a good experience at Chipotle that I’m thinking about going back for lunch the day of writing this post. Of note, Chipotle doesn’t serve breakfast. I like their decision. Stick to what you’re great at.
What you should order
I recommend you order a Chipotle Salad with extra chicken and guacamole. Ask for “no beans, no rice” upfront. Politely decline the free dressing they offer — it has too many carbs. If you want to construct your salad exactly as I like it:
- Bed of lettuce with “no beans, no rice please”
- Right as server finishes piling on the first serving of chicken, ask “can I get some extra chicken please?” I feel like you get more chicken this way versus ordering double chicken upfront. There’s a $2.15 up charge for extra chicken.
- Fajita grilled veggies
- Sour cream
- Red tomatillo salsa
- Extra guacamole ($1.95 extra)
That’s 570 calories and 9 net carbs. This should be enough for most appetites. If you’re worried, ask the server for cheese, extra sour cream, and a scoop of chorizo which are three of their most calorie-dense low carb items. For drinks, I recommend getting a free glass of ice water.
What I ordered
I ordered the same thing I just recommended. A Chipotle Salad with Double Chicken and Guacamole.
It looked monstrous and tasted amazing. My friend who joined me for lunch was shocked by how quickly I finished all the food. He thought I would be taking most of it to go. To be honest, I could have eaten another one. This is the best meal I’ve had during the fast food challenge and I’ve had some good ones.
I went back a week later to try the steak and wasn’t quite as impressed.
The steak is a bit dry to the taste and loosely packs into the servers’ spoon so you don’t get quite as much per serving compared to the chicken.
What you can order
The great thing about Chipotle is that you can build your own salads from several different meat, dairy, veggie & salsa options. For proteins, you can choose from (net carbs in parentheses):
- Chicken (0)
- Carnitas (0)
- Steak (0)
- Barbacoa (1)
- Chorizo (1)
- Sofritas – (6) their vegetarian option
- Cheese (0)
- Sour Cream (2)
- Romaine Lettuce (1)
- Fajita Vegetables (3)
- Chunky Tomato Salsa (4)
For salsa / toppings:
- Green Tomatillo (2)
- Red Tomatillo (4)
- Guacamole (2)
It’s the same, custom low carb menu I used to plan my orders before going to Chipotle for this fast food challenge.
What you should avoid
In case you’re new to low carb or keto eating, I’ll start by saying that all Chipotle rice, beans, taco shells, tortillas, and tortilla chips should be avoided. They’re too high carb.
There are also some less obvious salsas and dressings to avoid that I’ve listed below.
Tempting salsas and dressings to avoid:
- Vinaigrette Dressing – 11 net carbs
- Corn Salsa – 12 net carbs
Just in case you you’re a low carb drinker like me, their margaritas are also off limits. I was thinking to myself, “hey it’s tequila and lime juice, soda water…that should be fine”. Then I checked the menu and found that their margaritas have 25 grams of carbs each.
My next low carb / keto ordering guide will be for Taco Bell. I figured it a good comparison for Chipotle.
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My plan is to report back with final results for how this fast food experiment affects my health, well-being, and bank account. And you’ll get some simple low carb recipes and other tips from me for all the times you’re not eating in a fast food joint :).
aka “Mr. SkinnyPants”