rebecca is a food critic now

We Tried Chipotle’s Drag Queen Menu Just to Taste the Corporate Pride

The reason for the season: Brands, dummy! Photo: Courtesy of Chipotle Mexican Grill

It seems these days everyone and their homophobic uncle is releasing some sort of Pride collection. Crocs has a Pride collection. Target most certainly has a Pride collection. Even Claire’s is doing Pride now. And we’re pretty sure Claire’s doesn’t even exist anymore! Pride merch is a win for corporations. It’s a good look: They can signal and market to the wide purchasing body that is LGBTQ+ and their allies without actually *cough* putting in the real work of using their massive clout as multimillion- or -billion-dollar corporate entities to lobby for actual trans rights as they are continually threatened in America *cough*. Sorry, pinto bean got caught in my throat.

All of which is to say … Chipotle has launched a Pride collection! Slay yaaas mama love is love, Chipotle! The only thing more extra than their support for the queer community is their guac, am I right, ladies? In the proud tradition of RuPaul Frackianna Charles, Chipotle staged its Pride promo as a free-market competition: “3 queens, 3 orders, but only 1 can be crowned Queen of Pride,” said its Instagram post. Drag superstars Trixie Mattel, Kim Chi, and Gottmik each designed a custom order and chose a charity of their choice for $1 of that order to go to (up to $15,000, because there’s always a stipulation). The queen with the most orders by June 16 will get an additional $10,000 donated by Chipotle.

We’re listening! And as far as artist collaborations go, we do have high standards for RuPaul’s Drag Race alums. After all, each season has some sort of “branding” challenge now, where the queens have to sell a customized product (still waiting on my case of the K Special by Kandy Muse). Furthermore, unlike McDonald’s collabs with truly mega-mega-A-list celebrities, Drag Race queens are a level of famous where I could still plausibly buy the narrative that they designed these orders themselves. Is it weird that Chipotle, full name Chipotle Mexican Grill, didn’t include a Latinx queen as part of this collab? Was Valentina already booked? Maybe so. But Trixie, Kim, and Mik are all queens of the sales pitch. Both Trixie Mattel and Kim Chi have their own makeup lines, and they’re both known to promote them on YouTube with hilarious food-related content, including Mukbang and vintage Easy-Bake Oven cooking experiments. Trixie Mattel is a James Beard Award–nominated queen, and she won’t let you forget it. Gottmik, meanwhile, has a ton of (rightful, deserved) excitement around her following her season-13 run earlier this year. Which order would come out on top, and which would bottom? We ordered in, because walking 33 minutes to the nearest Chipotle is homophobic, and found out for ourselves.

It should be noted that this isn’t Chipotle’s first time collaborating with drag queens for a crossover promotion. Back in March, ELF launched a Chipotle palette, which was hilariously meant to resemble the assembly line familiar to Chipotle fans. Here is my attempt at doing a full face with shades like “guacamole” and “corn”:

[Insert GIF of Rosé reacting to her busted Tina Burner makeup here.] Photo: Rebecca Alter

To promote that rollout, look queens Trixie and Kim Chi designed their own bowl for Chipotle. It was vegan, emphasizing ELF’s commitment to vegan ingredients and stance against animal cruelty. My tasting notes at the time were that it was kind of a serve on account of the white rice tasting almost of sushi rice after steaming in its container for the three hours between when I ordered and when I ate. Props also had to be given to the pinto beans, which I never order when left to my own devices, but which are super-savory and delicious. Still, the tame veganism of it all felt disingenuous to Kim Chi, in particular, who is an adventurous gourmand and flavor maximalist. I was excited to see what the two Midwestern queens would concoct when allowed to promote just themselves this time.

When the Chipotle arrived, the first thing my roommates and I tried was Trixie Mattel’s burrito, benefiting Trans Lifeline. Trixie was the only queen brave enough to go for a full-on burrito instead of a bowl, but this ended up working against her, as the opaqueness of the ingredient dispersal under that wrap meant we had some reeeeeally dry bites. So dry, in fact, that I kept saying, out loud like a dumdum, “I wish this came with some sort of dipping sauce.”

Dipping sauce. 

Dipping sauce. 

The words echoed in my truly cavernously empty head until I remembered:

SAWCE! Photo: Rebecca Alter

The BTS McNuggets meal came with two of each dipping sauce, and I had saved the backups for emergency purposes. This qualified. We ripped those open, and dipped that burrito (yes, the three of us split one burrito by passing it back and forth and taking bites; this is post-vaxx culture). We came to a frankly cuckoo revelation: The BTS Sweet Chili sauce tastes transcendent when paired with the already very specifically chemical taste of McNuggets and McDonald’s fries. But out in the wild, when used for other dipping? It tastes mad-sweet, like jam-packet-at-Denny’s sweet. Like we were dipping this burrito in Gushers. It was a lesson in context, but we can now call it the first real BTS x Trixie Mattel collab. Here’s to an actual musical one in the future!

A dry, dry bite simply begging for BTS nugget sauce. Stream Trixie Mattel’s “Bluegrass.” Photo: Rebecca Alter

At 1,190 calories and $13.95 (prices via delivery in Brooklyn ended up higher than what’s listed across the board), we wagered it was the worst caloric bang for your buck. It also didn’t travel as well as the bowls, surprisingly, and came out cold. My tasting notes on the wrap were “salty green-pepper flavor,” so if that appeals to you, or if you just want to support an extremely worthy organization and a wonderful queen, go live your fantasy.

Next was the Gottmik salad, benefiting GLAAD. A skinny order befitting a skinny legend (copyright Trixie). No guac, no dressing, and brown rice instead of white, duh. Both this salad and Trixie’s burrito used sofritas, but while Trixie’s order was vegetarian due to truly undetectable levels of cheese, Mik went full Bimini, by which we mean vegan. Chipotle debuted its tofu-based sofritas option back in 2014, but meat alternatives (even in the fast-food sector) have come a long way since then. There are Impossible breakfast sandwiches at Dunkie’s now, which is proof we’re living in The Jetsons, or a sim, or The Sims Jetsons Expansion Pack. Chipotle’s sofritos are the opposite of that. They taste like crumbly nothing. The romaine in the salad was high quality, practically Sweetgreen-good. Crucially, at only $10.80 ($9.65 on the website), Gottmik’s salad is by far the most cost-conscious order, making her a truly inclusive queen allied to the comrades.

Finally, we opened Kim Chi’s bowl, benefiting the Human Rights Campaign, and just when I was feeling more blah about this whole endeavor than when I watched RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, Kim put the Chi in Chipotle. Kim Chi, a brave queen indeed, used white rice where the others used brown. She painted with alllllllll the salsas on the palette instead of trying to make something “balanced” with “just one or two salsas.” We’re talking pico de gallo and corn and tomatillo and whatever the hotter one is. She said yes to guacamole. She said yes to big chunks of steak. And crucially, and bravest of all, she said yes to sour cream, and tons of it. This was the only order that tasted joyful and indulgent, and shouldn’t we let ourselves have that during Pride of all months? Sure, all that dairy and red meat absolutely wrecked my [redacted]. Sure, it was the most expensive at $15.25. But it captured Kim Chi’s essence, whereas Mik and Trixie’s orders paled in comparison to their outsize personae. Kim Chi burrito bowl, you’re a winna, baby.

Condragulations, you’re No. 1! Photo: Rebecca Alter

The next day, two things happened. One: My roommate and I fried up all the leftovers of all the Chipotle orders in a pan and cracked an egg on it. We called this “queering the order,” and it was a radical act of reclaiming corporate Pride. We recommend this approach.

As Baga Chipz would say, “Much betta!” Photo: Rebecca Alter

Two: Yes, Chipotle’s commitment to donating a possible tens of thousands of dollars to a variety of LGBTQ+ organizations is admirable. But I had just blown, like, $40 on a chain that already rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars a year, while independent queer restaurants and bars have been ravaged by the pandemic and closed in droves over the past year. So next, I went to Ursula, a queer-owned New Mexican spot in Crown Heights, and got a salad because I’M VIRTUOUS, DAMN IT.

Photo: Rebecca Alter

The vibes were immaculate. The salad special had little gem lettuce, blue corn, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, a vegan green-chile ranch that was more flavorful than any of the vegan offerings from the night before, and pickled yucca flowers, which looked beautiful and tasted great. It came out to $9 before tip, which was cheaper than even the most affordable Chipotle Pride offering. Instead of $1 going to a national (and worthy!) organization, all of my dollars went to a queer-owned business, one that’s welcoming and affordable and delicious. Chipotle is great when you’re craving it, and these collabs were a blast, but as Michelle Visage recently said onstage with Gottmik at the MTV Awards, support your local queens.

Photo: Rebecca Alter

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We Tried Chipotle’s Drag Queen Menu to Taste Corporate Pride