The Cult US Fast Food Chain That’s Quietly Taking Over London

According to Metro London, it’s no secret that London is a top destination when it comes to food — as well as a range of incredible Michelin Star and exciting independent eateries, it’s also somewhat of a mecca for fast food.

Over the last few years the capital has seen a number of popular US chains set up shop, including Popeyes, Wingstop, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s.

But there’s another American restaurant, that’s got a cult following in the States, that’s been slowly but surely taking over the city. 

Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is more commonly known as just Chipotle, specialises in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, and bowls, which are made to order in front of customers.

The chain prides itself on having no frozen food, artificial colours, flavours, or preservatives and now has a whopping 17 locations across London and Greater London. And, insiders have told a further nationwide expansion is on the cards.

Four of these sites have opened within the last year, with other restaurants recently opening elsewhere in the UK, including Watford and Guildford.

The menu consists of 53 ingredients, such as grilled steak, vegan braised tofu, white rice, black beans, several different types of salsa, guacamole, cheese, and sides such as tortilla chips. 

Customers are able to fully customise their order, adding only the items they want to their meal. Or if you can’t be bothered to choose, then there are a couple of lifestyle bowls on the digital menu that will be made up according to a recipe. These include the Protein Pump Bowl (£11.80), the Vegan Bowl (£8.65) and the Keto Bowl (£11.85).

What sets Chipotle apart from other fast food chains?

Chipotle has a (rather grand) aim of cultivating ‘a better world’ by serving responsibly sourced, real food with ‘wholesome’ ingredients. The chain’s ethos is based on the idea that there’s a strong connection between how food is raised and prepared and how it tastes.

Jacob Sumner, the director of Chipotle’s European operations thinks this makes the company is a perfect fit for the UK market.

Speaking to he said: ‘The UK is an attractive growth area for us because UK consumers prioritise healthy and sustainable food options. We serve delicious food that our guests can feel good about eating.

‘Our real food is cooked fresh daily, and none of our restaurants feature freezers or can openers.’

As an example, he shared how the chain’s guacamole is hand mashed every day in-store and is made up of just six ingredients: avocados, citrus juice, coriander, red onion,  jalapeños, and salt.

Jacob added that more Chipotle restaurants could be popping up across the UK soon, as they are ‘always looking for new communities’ and to ‘keep your eyes peeled for a location coming near you’.

What do customers say?

In the US Chipotle is so popular it’s got its own Reddit thread, with 84,000 members sharing their thoughts and a look at their orders each day.

And it seems the fans over there approve of Chipotle over here, as an American food reviewer known as @chopcuisine recently gave the UK version her stamp of approval.

In a video posted to TikTok, she can be seen ordering the same food she’d usually get in the States and after tasting it, hails her meal ‘delicious’ and ‘amazing’.

Here in the UK, Chipotle has garnered itself a number of glowing reviews on Tripadvisor, with the Charing Cross Road branch being a particular hit with customers.

One incredibly wholesome five star review for the restaurant, posted by Kate Brighton, proclaims: ‘Grandma tries Chipotle — great fun food!

‘My first time in a Mexican fast food joint — what fun! Such deliciously tasty, low price food and very friendly staff. A special thank you to Hayley who made sure I fully understood how it all worked and made my tacos extra special.’

Similarly, a user named Sarper3 gave the restaurant four stars, writing: ‘A great lunch for all of us. After a tiring few hours in London we decided to try Chipotle for the first time. You select your base out of four options and then the ingredients just like a normal burrito joint.

‘Instead of ordering burritos we preferred bowls and it was as filling as a burrito. Better than getting an unhealthy takeaway in my opinion. However, the star of the night was their guacamole, it was delicious, one of the best I have eaten. I have no clue how they make it this good. My only criticism would be that they put lime on their nachos which is not my favourite.’