Emily Post(modern): Proper Chipotle Etiquette
Good afternoon, all... and welcome to my first entry as Emily Post(modern). Today, I will be covering an etiquette issue that is very near and dear to my heart:
Dining at Chipotle
As one who dines in this culinary establishment quite often, I can't help but notice that there are some people who just don't know how to behave. But not to worry, I am here to help. (I also want to take a moment to remind you that while I hope to be informative, this is first and foremost satire to be enjoyed not taken as seriously as a heart attack. Thank you.)
It is a common misconception that the only restaurants that have rules and etiquette expectations are ones where the customer sits and is served by a waiter. This is simply not the case. Just as where your napkin goes and what fork you use are important things to consider when dining in a full-service restaurant, there is a set of rules that are crucial to follow when dining in a Chipotle-like establishment as well, and following these rules will not only assist in making the dining experience more enjoyable and productive for you, but for everyone around you also. I'm going to break these rules down for you now as simply and eloquently as I can, splitting them up into categories for clarity.
Waiting in Line
Chipotle is a very popular restaurant (how could it not be?), and nothing can be more frustrating than having to wait in a line 20 people deep when you're in a rush, running late, or, quite simply, just can't wait one minute more to experience the taste explosion that is your Chipotle order of choice. This is all understandable. However, under no circumstances - I repeat - UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES are you to ever invade the personal space of the person in front of you in hopes of being that much closer to your prize when the truth is, no matter how much you crowd this person and push your way into their bubble, you're still 20 people away from your Burrito Bowl. Calm the f%#k down.
Line etiquette continues even after you reach the front. Depending on the time of day you are trying to acquire your brown paper bag of deliciousness, the food preparation line might be moving your order quicker than the line of patrons is actually moving. This DOES NOT, however, give you permission to push your way in front of the person ahead of you in a feeble attempt to "catch up" to your order. No, friend. The more than capable food professional handling your order will be able to hear your "mild, hot, corn, cheese" preference just fine from right where you are. I understand your desire to be close to your food... we all share in your desire... but cool it. This isn't the Rent the Runway Sample Sale... there is NO need to push.
How to Order
When the first person on the prep line greets you, "Hi, how are you, welcome to Chipotle." , look them in the eye, smile, and say, "Hello". Barking "Burrito Bowl" at them is not an appropriate response to their question. "How are you?" - "Burrito Bowl". No, friend. You are not a Burrito Bowl. You are well, or you are fine. Tell them so, thank them, and then ask how they are in return. Once this exchange that takes all of 10 seconds has transpired, you my place your order. We are humans after all, not neanderthals living in caves.
Be ready with your order. Especially if you are dining during the dinner or lunch rush. You have more likely than not had that line 20 people deep to make your decision, so know what you want. Also, have a second choice of meat on deck, or be prepared to kindly step out of line and wait patiently should they be out of your preference. It should not signify the end of the world if they are momentarily out of Carnitas. Barbacoa is good too... though I tend to be more of a Chicken girl, myself.
It is completely acceptable to take the temperature of your food professional before asking for double meat. Sometimes, he/she is very generous and there is no need for it. But sometimes he/she is unbelievably stingy, in which case it might be worth dropping the extra money. This is a choice you are allowed to make in the moment, but again, everything else should be pre-determined.
If you have a preference regarding the amount of any condiment you want added to your order, articulate it. How is your Chipotle food professional supposed to know you only want a little sour cream, or a lot of salsa unless you tell them? This way, the ordering experience is not prolonged by needless declarations like, "Wait... that's WAY too much sour cream" or, "Can I have, like, a little more lettuce?". Just like in any relationship, be upfront and honest about what you want from your partner. And if you're like me, your relationship with your Chipotle food professional might be one of the most important ones you cultivate.
Speaking of cultivating a relationship with your Chipotle food professional, "Please" and "Thank you" go a LONG way, friends. I cannot tell you how many times I have been given double chicken without even ordering it, or haven't been charged the extra $2.75 for guac, just because I was polite. Remember the Golden Rule, "Treat others the way you want to be treated." ... or if that doesn't work, "Treat others as if they have the power to give you free guac on your Burrito Bowl".
Chips, Drink, and Payment
Usually your Chipotle food professionals will communicate with each other about your order; informing one another of exactly what components are involved in the equation of deliciousness that makes up your final order, but in the event that this communication does not happen, and the Chipotle food professional is forced to ask you about your order, don't lie. I know... it's oh so tempting to just pretend like you didn't order double meat or guac, but don't give in!! When that sharpie hits that silver foil, it's a binding contract... it's forever. You don't want that relationship to be based on a lie, do you?
If you are going to be the person who asks for a water cup and fills it with a beverage other than water, at LEAST fill it with Sprite, or lemonade, or iced tea. Don't be that person who asks for a water cup and goes straight for the Coke Zero. You might get away with it... but I see you.
The best form of payment at Chipotle is a credit/debit card. It keeps things quick and simple, especially if there is a line behind you. More times than not, it is a change situation at the register that causes the aforementioned issues that make line etiquette so important. A quick swipe will keep you and the rest of the line moving.
If it is your desire to dine-in at your local Chipotle, that is wonderful. It is sure to be a charming experience if you know the lay of the land. At most locations, seating is sparse, which makes it totally acceptable to ask to share a 4-top with another 2 - top, or a 2-top with another single diner. Don't be shy, but be respectful.
There are utensils and napkins available for your use. When taking a utensil, only touch one. When taking napkins, only touch the ones you wish to take with you, and you'd be wise to grab quite a few.
There are several different flavors of Tabasco Sauce available for communal use. If you bring one to your table, return it after you are finished. Allowing one of the said bottles of Tabasco to find its way into your backpack is discouraged... but I understand that times are hard and Tabasco is delicious and things happen so...
When you are finished, clear your trash and use unused napkins to wipe down your dining space. You've just been treated to a delicious yet relatively inexpensive dining experience for which no tip was required. The least you can do to show your appreciation is clean up after yourself.
Well there you have it, friends. Now you know the proper etiquette involved in a trip to Chipotle. I hope this has proved informative. Check in next week for my next installment, and in the meantime use the comments section to suggest any modern day situations you want or need Emily Post(modern) to address.
Oh, and Happy Mardi Gras y'all!! Laissez les bons temps rouler. But I was wondering... does Fat Tuesday mean one can eat Chipotle for every meal? Asking for a friend.
With Grave and Good Humor,