The first time I ordered a quesarito I felt like I was knocking on the door of an underground speakeasy, sheepishly half-whispering the magic word across the counter. At first it seemed I'd gotten the secret handshake wrong, as the pretty young Chipotle employee stared at me impassively while I shifted nervously from foot to foot. I started to stammer out some qualifying explanation, half-tempted to change my order and slink off, burrito in hand and tail between my legs.
Perhaps the elusive quesarito was just an urban foodie legend after all. But she interrupted me, clearly annoyed.
"You want us to do it; we can do it," she said, slamming a tortilla down on the counter and just barely keeping a latent eye roll in check. Apparently this Chipotle burristo (or crew member, as they're officially called) had had her fill of foodies ordering off the restaurant's so-called secret menu - made up of items not listed on the official menu but available for order to those in the know. She might as well have said, "You want to be a jerk, fine - be a jerk."
The quesarito is a quesadilla laid flat, then filled with rice, meat, beans, etc., and rolled like a burrito. Think: stuffed-crust pizza, Chipotle style. I started to understand Burristo #1's annoyance as I watched the final step of the quesarito assembly; the thick double-tortilla and cheese-filled shell threatened to split down the middle, stretched to the breaking point by a medley of barbacoa, rice and black beans. (Imagine squeezing the hard-earned burrito belly of a dedicated Chipotle addict into the suit he wore to junior prom.)
Meanwhile, the line, which had been non-existent when I arrived around 8 p.m., was now six or seven people deep. Easy to see why the quesarito is not every Chipotle worker's favorite order.
The young woman working at the cash register was more sanguine than her high-strung, burrito-rolling colleague.
"They don't like when people order them because they take longer to make," she said, shrugging. "But it's part of the job, you know?"
I was highly skeptical about the quesarito, even philosophically opposed. For one thing, more doesn't always mean better, and for another, it's hard to improve upon a classic Chipotle burrito. Hipster nonsense, I thought. However, I found this belt-busting caloric monstrosity (upwards of 1,300 calories) to be surprisingly palatable. OK, delicious. The melted cheese sandwiched between two folds of crispy, browned tortilla is hard to argue with, and while I was afraid the quesadilla might detract from the burrito experience, it just added extra strata of texture and flavor.
A word of caution: some Crew members have been known to use only one tortilla, folding it in half to make the quesadilla and then unfolding it to make the quesarito. Though undoubtedly delicious, don't be fooled. As far as I'm concerned, this is just a burrito with extra cheese. If you want the true quesarito experience, make sure to ask for two tortillas.
When I ordered another quesarito on a later trip to Chipotle, the Crew member confessed he'd never made a two-tortilla quesarito before, but he agreed to try. That's one of the fun things about secret menu items - they're not official company creations, so there is no "right" way to make them. Burristos (isn't that more fun than "Crew member?") make them up as they go along or make them to a customer's specifications. As such, the secret menu evolves haphazardly, a different kind of organic food movement.
Some food writers have reported that the quesarito is not available for order during peak hours, but the cashier shook her head when I mentioned this, saying they'll roll a quesarito anytime, for whoever asks. She told me they've grown in popularity as word of the secret menu items has oozed out like melted cheese from between two toasty tortillas. But secret or not-so-secret, the quesarito is an in-the-know food trend worth trying.
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