The Big Debate: Chipotle vs. Salsa Fresca

By Jack Canter

For anyone in Westchester who loves quick, easy Mexican food, you can always have a passionate debate about the following question: Which is better, Chipotle or Salsa Fresca? Most people are more familiar with Chipotle–the fast casual chain that gets you more bang for your buck than the dollar store! Around since 1993, Chipotle has thousands of locations all around the U.S., known for their  extravagant build-your-own burritos and rice bowls. Yet, Salsa Fresca is an up-and-coming competitor, always bustling with customers hungry for their fresh salsa, seasoned meat, and crisp chips. Founded in 2008, Salsa Fresca has ten locations in NY and Connecticut and plans to expand to 100 stores within five years.

To write this article, I tried both Salsa Fresca and Chipotle. At Salsa Fresca, I ordered a mouth-watering burrito with pork, Mexican rice, beans, cheese, cilantro, red onion, sour cream and salsa verde sauce. Am I making you hungry yet? At Chipotle, I got a bowl with white rice, pinto beans, pork, cheese, sour cream, and salsa. After surveying every bite of both meals, I concluded both Salsa Fresca and Chipotle are great for different reasons. 

Chipotle was delicious because there was a great selection and variety of ingredients. The menu is practically a 600-page novel, sparking the imagination of customers to create the perfect burrito. However, at Salsa Fresca, they do not have as many ingredients; they only have black beans, while at Chipotle they have pinto beans and black beans. But, the game changer for Salsa Fresca is their delicious tangy pork that melts in your mouth. There are great trade-offs at each place; it just comes down to personal preference! 

So, how do you choose which Mexican restaurant is right for you? I’ll help you out by going through some major differences. Some positives about Salsa Fresca is their great Boylan soda which comes in all kinds of flavors from the soda fountain; free chips and salsa with every order; delicious nachos towering with toppings; and their delicious signature burritos like the Mexicali blue burrito with chicken, Mexican rice, beans, cheese, cilantro, red onion, and salsa verde sauce. Some positives at Chipotle are that they seem to have slightly larger burritos and burrito bowls; the choice between brown rice or white rice and black beans or pinto beans; and there are many more ingredients to choose from.

Let’s hear from others! Beckett Hutchens is a 9th grader from California who regularly eats Chipotle, yet he often visits New York and eats Salsa Fresca. Beckett believes “Salsa Fresca is the pinnacle of authentic Mexican cuisine.” Beckett enjoys food from Salsa Fresca due to the unparalleled flavors of the grand burritos, the fresh tang of the salsa, and the refreshing Boylan soda which perfectly eases the spice of the meat. 

However, other customers, who have tried both restaurants, prefer Chipotle. Freshman Hudson Gray, who is a regular Chipotle customer, believes that this Mexican chain is the greatest: “I like Chipotle because they offer a variety of ways to eat Mexican food that all taste great.” Senior Lizzie Manowitz concurs; she “like[s] Chipotle and Salsa Fresca” but if she had to choose, she “like[s] Chipotle better.”  Anika Kumar, a 12th grader at Byram Hills High School, prefers Chipotle because “they have good vegan options.” 

Through surveying my peers, I’ve noticed people tend to like Chipotle more because they rarely ever eat at Salsa Fresca. On the other hand, I noticed that people who like Salsa Fresca have never really given Chipotle much of a chance. In order to find out which fast casual Mexican restaurant is right for you, I recommend you try out both places this weekend! Go get a Salsa Fresca Mexicali burrito and a Chipotle rice bowl, and enjoy the great experience!