Fast Food

In a Rare Move, Chipotle Expands Menu With Chorizo

Grilled chicken or steak, pork carnitas, beef barbacoa: From day one at the original Chipotle at 1644 East Evans Avenue, those were the only protein options. And the lineup remained the same for years, until the company added soy-based sofritas as a vegetarian option three years ago. But today Chipotle will unveil its first new meat offering since opening more than twenty years ago: chorizo sausage. You'll have to head to the downtown location at 16th and Blake streets (1480 16th Street) if you want it, though, because the chorizo will only be available at a limited number of stores nationwide.

Chipotle's newest protein is made with ground pork, white-meat chicken, paprika, cumin and chipotle peppers and is served in seared chunks (rather than whole or finely crumbled) as an option in burritos, bowls and tacos. Like the company's other offerings, the chorizo is tagged with the phrase "Responsibly Raised," which Chipotle has been using under a registered trademark since October 2015, to indicate that the meats are raised without hormones or antibiotics.

Residents of New York City, Sacramento, San Diego and Columbus, as well as travelers passing through Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., will also get to line up for Chipotle chorizo. These will be the only chorizo markets until the product is rolled out nationwide this fall.

The burrito chain is also unveiling its new Chiptopia rewards program, which will allow regular customers the opportunity to get a fifth entree free after purchasing four. Starting this Friday, July 1, and running through September, the program includes a card that will keep track of purchases with additional rewards for long-term loyalty, including merchandise and even a catered meal for twenty people. Customers who register for the card on July 1 will receive a free order of chips and guacamole with their first purchase.

The rewards program is clearly designed to win back a customer base that has dwindled since several foodborne-illness incidents shook the company in 2015; The new protein is something of a surprise from a company that has been very cautious with menu expansion over the years. But both come at a great time for fans, who can now try out a new flavor and earn free food at the same time.