A regional Mexican-food chain that consumers say tastes better than Chipotle is using the biggest criticism of the established brand to its advantage.
Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill tastes better than Chipotle, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.
Amid stories about Chipotle's high calorie counts, Rubio's CEO and cofounder, Ralph Rubio, says he's focused on keeping menu items healthy.
"One of the most important changes to our strategy has been adding more healthy options and being conscious of calories and carbs, because thatís what our customers want," Rubio told Nation's Restaurant News.
The brand has added seared seafood and lobster to the menu.
The average Chipotle order contained 1,070 calories, more than half the number the typical adult should eat in a day, according to New York Times blog Upshot.
The salt and fat contents are also high.
"Most orders at Chipotle give you a close to a full day's worth of salt (2,400 milligrams) and 75 percent of a full dayís worth of saturated fat," the Upshot writers say.
The writers note that an order of fresh tomato salsa has just 20 calories but more sodium than a small bag of Lay's potato chips.
An example of the average meal was a 1,085-calorie barbacoa burrito with rice, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, roasted chili corn salsa, cheese, and sour cream.
Rubio's, which is inspired by Baja California cuisine, has 190 locations and is predominantly found on the West Coast. Chipotle, in comparison, has nearly 1,700 locations across the US.
Rubio's is best known for its fish tacos, which are hand-battered and covered in fresh salsa and a cabbage slaw. Other popular menu items include tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.
Rubio's also offers churros for dessert.
Like Chipotle, Rubio's emphasizes fresh ingredients that are sustainably sourced.
Hayley Peterson contributed to this story.
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