Chipotle released its newest menu item on July 10, its play on traditional Tex-Mex queso. The only problem? It’s only available in one location, its public test kitchen, which it’s dubbed the NEXT Kitchen. The Daily Meal’s offices happen to not be too far away from this experimental lab, however, so we dropped by and sampled the goods in order to see exactly how excited you should be.
We picked up a small container of the stuff, which will be exclusively available in the test kitchen for about a month before going national if all goes to plan, according to USA Today. A small container sells for $2.05 without chips and $3.45 with them; larger containers are selling for $5.25 and come with chips.
Because of Chipotle’s commitment to using natural ingredients, it doesn’t have that Velveeta-like, gooey texture you may be used to, but we still found it to be pretty good. The flavor is primarily that of sharp Cheddar, with a slight bite from jalapenos and Mexican spices. According to Quartz, it also contains roasted tomatillos, tomatoes, cumin, oregano, and other chiles, and we have a feeling that some starch – possibly potato—has also been added. No complaints in the flavor department.
From a textural standpoint, however, it’s slightly gritty and mealy, a side effect of only using all-natural ingredients. On a burrito ($1.25 extra) this might work just fine, but on its own it wasn’t ideal; most of us are used to “cheese sauce” having that processed cheese consistency, so we imagine not everyone will be pleased (in fact, one of the hallmarks of true Mex-Mex queso is the use of processed cheese). The texture was especially lacking once the queso began to cool; it started to resemble greasy library paste.
All in all, though, it’s definitely not an inferior product, and we’re sure that the Chipotle team put tons of work into making this as good as it can be. The flavor’s there, but whether the general public will accept the mealy texture is anyone’s guess. Until it arrives at a location near you, catch up with our 13 things you didn’t know about Chipotle Mexican Grill.