It’s time to say good-bye to Chipotle’s chorizo: The reddish pork and chicken chunks, which hit the menu last year, are being phased out. The burrito chain is instead focusing on its newest menu item: queso, which officially hit stores nationwide last week.
Chipotle’s chorizo, which isn’t all pork like traditional chorizo and was seasoned with mild paprika and chili pepper, wasn’t a hit right off the bat, but Chipotle denies that’s why it’s coming off the menu. “When we decided to move forward with the national rollout of queso, we opted to replace chorizo on the line with queso, so chorizo is going away," Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold told CNBC. "While we really liked the chorizo (and many customers did too), the efficiency of our model has always been rooted, in part, in doing just a few things so we can do them really well.”
Though Chipotle has always had a tight menu with limited options and rarely introduces new items, its swap of chorizo for queso seems less like an operational requirement and more like marketing spin. As early as last month, analysts have suggested chorizo would soon come off the menu, estimating that its newest protein accounted for only three percent of all protein sales. Meanwhile, customers didn’t exactly love the chorizo; early reviews were lackluster.
“Chipotle, against all odds, found the 1 percent of chorizo that tastes like garbage,” wrote Eater NY’s chief critic Ryan Sutton last year. Eater NY’s senior critic Robert Sietsema didn’t have anything nice to say about the meat blend either, writing, “Would I go back and get a Chipotle chorizo burrito of my own volition? Not in a million years.”
Unfortunately, early reviews of Chipotle’s queso haven’t been exactly positive, either. One Chipotle fan called it “the biggest disappointment of 2017” on Twitter, and in a year where a reality television star became president, that’s saying a lot.