Chipotle is known for being allergy aware and it just so happens to be my go-to eatery when visiting the USA. We just spent ten days travelling through five states, and I can tell you that Chipotle was my food allergy lifeline – I never worried about a safe meal because I had them to rely on. Gotta love that they have no sesame, peanuts, or tree nuts in their kitchen. This being said, not all Chipotles’ are created equal.
When allergens may be a problem
You may have noticed Chipotle has been in the news lately because of their new menu item: queso. Lucky for me, dairy is not an allergen, but I can see it being a concern. Beyond the queso, cheese and sour cream are also offered. On our trip, we ate at Chipotle three times and at one of them I saw cheese amongst the lettuce and guacamole. So as allergy aware as Chipotle is, there are high risks of cross-contact for dairy. An article from AllergyEats states that you could ask for new lettuce and guacamole to ensure it is cross-contact free.
The only one of my allergens that Chipotle carries is soy in the sofritas. My concern is they are positioned behind the beans, which means they are served over them and run the risk of dripping. I understand why they are set behind the beans since sofritas are probably one of the lesser used ingredients. They are also conscious of vegetarians and vegans who don’t want their food near the meat. If this makes you worried, you can ask for fresh beans, but be prepared to wait since they may need to make a new batch.
Is Chipotle allergy friendly around the word?
Chipotle may be my go to fast food in North America, but Chipotle in Europe and the UK are no-go. Chipotle in England, France, and Germany all cook with sunflower oil so I cannot eat the rice, beans, meats, veggies, chips, or some of the salsas (basically everything but the dairy and lettuce lol).
One of my worst allergy experiences
I’ve had one of my worst allergy experiences at the Chipotle on Baker Street in London. I checked online about their ingredients and saw they used sunflower oil. In hopes that maybe… just maybe… things had changed (like they did in the US moving from soybean oil to rice bran), I asked the employee behind the counter what oil they used. He flat out said that they don’t use oil. I explained to him that online it says they use sunflower oil and I was just checking that this was still the case. Again, he insisted they used no oil. Determined to find out if I could eat there, I asked if he could check. Frustrated he yelled: ‘listen WOMAN we DON’T use oil’. He said it so loud the manager heard and rushed over – talking while moving as to diffuse the situation – explaining: “yes yes they use sunflower oil”.
At being called ‘woman’ and shown no respect I had to walk away as not to create a scene. Thankfully I had just done yoga so was still pretty mellow if not who knows what I might have said! The employee learned they do indeed cook with sunflower oil and being schooled in front of a group of shocked people was enough of a lesson in customer service.
This situation was an excellent reminder to always check ingredients – even if you have eaten there a thousand times before. You never know if something has been changed that particular day and you can’t rely on a restaurant to be the same in different countries. You may be able to eat Chipotle at home, but maybe not in France. Oh and sometimes people working at the restaurant have no idea what is in the food.
The takeaway here is that yes Chipotle is very allergy friendly and will try to accommodate your allergies, but like all things it depends. It depends on the staff, it depends on how busy the restaurant is, and it even depends on what country you are in.
Have you dined at Chipotle? Share you experience in the comments below!