Tofu burritos coming soon to Chipotle?

Examples of high-protein foods are tofu, dairy...

Chipotle has had a less than stellar year financially, failing to meet Wall Street expectations for earnings even though their revenue was up appreciably from last year, mostly due to expansion.  Their same-store sales growth is declining; we’ve lost a bit of the Chipotle thrill, it appears.  Taco Bell, who they’d quickly point out is not their competitor, has produced a somewhat more upscale menu that’s notably cheaper.  Food cost continues to be an issue, even while Chipotle is known for not cutting corners with food quality, and they know we’re pretty touchy about how much counter service / sit down casual food already costs, so there’s not a lot of desire on their part to boost their prices.

Reportedly unrelated, they’re trying out in a few west coast stores a mix shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilis, roasted mild poblano chiles and a blend of aromatic spices.  They’ve named it Sofritas and it sounds, frankly, not like a huge winner in our part of the country but perhaps something to try once and see how it goes.  There’s a built in difficulty — tofu has not made a major inroad into American family cooking, outside of restaurants and vegetarians / vegans.  Some of us don’t fully digest it, some of us  are concerned about its hormonal effect, especially on women, and some of us are pretty put-off by the suggestion of mock meat.  None of those is without a way of resolution, but they’re still there to be overcome.  And there are already vegetarian and vegan options on the Chipotle menu, made more attractive by their recent addition of brown rice which has been quite popular.

And here’s the kicker — it won’t be actually vegetarian unless it’s made totally separately on equipment that is without any residue of meat.

So we’ll have to see.

It’s only being tested in a few Bay Area stores, which should be a part of the country where soy burritos would get their best shot.

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