Has there been a full moon over the world of fast food this entire summer? The past couple months have been wild: Chicken sandwiches with four patties! Chicken sandwiches with Cheetos! Chicken sandwiches that made us feel irrationally angry and betrayed!
That’s why it’s so refreshing to review Chipotle’s new carne asada. The dish felt so straight-forward, so quaint. It made me think of simpler times, back when the idea of driving four hours to try a fast food chicken sandwich was something I’d never seriously consider.
Carne asada is wholly different than Chipotle’s existing steak offering, which is is diced and has a smoky flavor profile. Its carne asada, on the other hand, is a step above: The steaks are cooked sous-vide before being quickly seared on the grill, resulting in a piece of meat that I still cannot believe was produced in a Chipotle in south Baltimore. It was so tender it didn’t require the use of a little plastic knife, and it’s explosively flavorful, with an electric streak of acidic lime juice and the bright sunshine of fresh cilantro.
The only downside I can find to this item: Its tenderness can become a liability when stuffed in a burrito with other soft ingredients. The next time I order this (and yes, there most definitely will be a next time), I’ll get it as a salad with fajita vegetables, pico de gallo, and a double portion of corn salsa. I applaud Chipotle’s success in conning me into making healthy life choices.
Chipotle is advertising this as a “limited time only” item [editor’s note: Chipotle announced in November 2019 that carne asada will be available at least through early 2020], and they’re touting this as paleo-friendly, keto-friendly, and had it officially certified as Whole30-approved. It seems rather obvious that if it sells well, it’ll be sticking around. We can only hope.