Finance A burrito chain that's a better alternative to Chipotle is expanding to Chicago — here's what it's like to eat there

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Chipotle has some competition in the form of Dos Toros, an ambitious burrito chain that's taking over.

The burrito bowls are great, but are they better than Chipotle? play

The burrito bowls are great, but are they better than Chipotle?

(Hollis Johnson)
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Chipotle has some competition — and the competition is growing.

Dos Toros, founded in 2009 by brothers Leo and Oliver Kremer, is looking to carve out a chunk of the market as it prepares to open its first location in Chicago on Monday, August 28.

The New York City-based chain is self-funded – no outside investors or nest eggs.

With 13 locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan and their first outpost outside of NYC opening soon, Dos Toros seems unstoppable.

A few months ago, I decided to head to the nearest location to see why this local chain is exploding, and to find out if it can survive elsewhere in a pretty competitive Mexican fast-casual market.

It's a cool night — the perfect time to warm up with some Mexican food at this Dos Toros on 23rd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan.

It's a cool night — the perfect time to warm up with some Mexican food at this Dos Toros on 23rd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan. play

It's a cool night — the perfect time to warm up with some Mexican food at this Dos Toros on 23rd Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan.

(Hollis Johnson)


The interior feels cozy and rich, with vibrant red walls and natural wood everywhere.

The interior feels cozy and rich, with vibrant red walls and natural wood everywhere. play

The interior feels cozy and rich, with vibrant red walls and natural wood everywhere.

(Hollis Johnson)


I'm hungry, so I step right up for my order. I'll choose a chicken plato — their name for a burrito bowl — and a steak quesadilla.

I'm hungry, so I step right up for my order. I'll choose a chicken plato — their name for a burrito bowl — and a steak quesadilla. play

I'm hungry, so I step right up for my order. I'll choose a chicken plato — their name for a burrito bowl — and a steak quesadilla.

(Hollis Johnson)


You heard right: Dos Toros serves quesadillas, a big difference from Chipotle. The prices are similar, except that adding guacamole is much cheaper. Adding guac costs $1 — except with tacos, where it costs only 50 cents.

You heard right: Dos Toros serves quesadillas, a big difference from Chipotle. The prices are similar, except that adding guacamole is much cheaper. Adding guac costs $1 — except with tacos, where it costs only 50 cents. play

You heard right: Dos Toros serves quesadillas, a big difference from Chipotle. The prices are similar, except that adding guacamole is much cheaper. Adding guac costs $1 — except with tacos, where it costs only 50 cents.

(Hollis Johnson)


The set-up is exactly like Chipotle's, with the line moving down as you choose what goes into your delicious meal. Another difference, however, is the rice. It's a richly flavored yellow rice that tastes much more savory than Chipotle's signature cilantro lime recipe.

The set-up is exactly like Chipotle's, with the line moving down as you choose what goes into your delicious meal. Another difference, however, is the rice. It's a richly flavored yellow rice that tastes much more savory than Chipotle's signature cilantro lime recipe. play

The set-up is exactly like Chipotle's, with the line moving down as you choose what goes into your delicious meal. Another difference, however, is the rice. It's a richly flavored yellow rice that tastes much more savory than Chipotle's signature cilantro lime recipe.

(Hollis Johnson)


After a quick and easy ordering process, I have my pollo asado plato and my carne asada quesadilla, which is rolled up, essentially making it a loosely packed burrito.

After a quick and easy ordering process, I have my pollo asado plato and my carne asada quesadilla, which is rolled up, essentially making it a loosely packed burrito. play

After a quick and easy ordering process, I have my pollo asado plato and my carne asada quesadilla, which is rolled up, essentially making it a loosely packed burrito.

(Hollis Johnson)


While Chipotle's burritos and bowls generally have a light, crisp taste to them, Dos Toros goes for rich and savory. This is where Dos Toros' sauces come into play: With choices of verde, smokey, or habanero, there are a few ways your burrito experience can go.

play

(Hollis Johnson)


I chose the smokey sauce, which is precisely that. It's rich with a smoked barbecue taste, and it has a slight, but noticeable spicy, kick to it as well. It melds perfectly with the cooling crema and guacamole, and it adds smokiness to the tender and well-seasoned chicken.

I chose the smokey sauce, which is precisely that. It's rich with a smoked barbecue taste, and it has a slight, but noticeable spicy, kick to it as well. It melds perfectly with the cooling crema and guacamole, and it adds smokiness to the tender and well-seasoned chicken. play

I chose the smokey sauce, which is precisely that. It's rich with a smoked barbecue taste, and it has a slight, but noticeable spicy, kick to it as well. It melds perfectly with the cooling crema and guacamole, and it adds smokiness to the tender and well-seasoned chicken.

(Hollis Johnson)


The steak quesadilla is pretty packed with ingredients. I expected a flat, classic quesadilla, but this is really a loose burrito with extra cheese in it, which is far from a bad thing. That being said, it's very difficult to eat because it falls apart quickly.

The steak quesadilla is pretty packed with ingredients. I expected a flat, classic quesadilla, but this is really a loose burrito with extra cheese in it, which is far from a bad thing. That being said, it's very difficult to eat because it falls apart quickly. play

The steak quesadilla is pretty packed with ingredients. I expected a flat, classic quesadilla, but this is really a loose burrito with extra cheese in it, which is far from a bad thing. That being said, it's very difficult to eat because it falls apart quickly.

(Hollis Johnson)


But the steak is juicy and cooked perfectly, and the rich cheese makes it an incredibly filling meal. I'm pretty impressed.

But the steak is juicy and cooked perfectly, and the rich cheese makes it an incredibly filling meal. I'm pretty impressed. play

But the steak is juicy and cooked perfectly, and the rich cheese makes it an incredibly filling meal. I'm pretty impressed.

(Hollis Johnson)


If you're in a jam, the napkins provide a step-by-step guide to tackling your burrito or quesadilla. Luckily, I managed to pull through without it.

If you're in a jam, the napkins provide a step-by-step guide to tackling your burrito or quesadilla. Luckily, I managed to pull through without it. play

If you're in a jam, the napkins provide a step-by-step guide to tackling your burrito or quesadilla. Luckily, I managed to pull through without it.

(Hollis Johnson)


The serving sizes are comparable to Chipotle, meaning they're huge and filling. I barely finished, but it was so good I had to keep going.

The serving sizes are comparable to Chipotle, meaning they're huge and filling. I barely finished, but it was so good I had to keep going. play

The serving sizes are comparable to Chipotle, meaning they're huge and filling. I barely finished, but it was so good I had to keep going.

(Hollis Johnson)


Dos Toros — once again, just like Chipotle — makes sustainability a major pillar of its business model. Frankly, you can taste it: The veggies are fresh, and the meat is done right, which is a nod to the kitchen staff as much as it is to their sources.

Dos Toros — once again, just like Chipotle — makes sustainability a major pillar of its business model. Frankly, you can taste it: The veggies are fresh, and the meat is done right, which is a nod to the kitchen staff as much as it is to their sources. play

Dos Toros — once again, just like Chipotle — makes sustainability a major pillar of its business model. Frankly, you can taste it: The veggies are fresh, and the meat is done right, which is a nod to the kitchen staff as much as it is to their sources.

(Hollis Johnson)


The chain also composts its utensils and food.

The chain also composts its utensils and food. play

The chain also composts its utensils and food.

(Hollis Johnson)


Dos Toros is planning an expansion beyond the New York City market, and if it manages to keep its current model of good food fast, it can easily make it elsewhere.

Dos Toros is planning an expansion beyond the New York City market, and if it manages to keep its current model of good food fast, it can easily make it elsewhere. play

Dos Toros is planning an expansion beyond the New York City market, and if it manages to keep its current model of good food fast, it can easily make it elsewhere.

(Hollis Johnson)