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3 Ways Chipotle Is Secretly Making You Spend More Money

Eating at the beloved fast-casual has gotten pricier quickly.

While we've been hearing a lot about it, gasoline isn't the only commodity that's being affected by inflation. Grocery items are getting pricier and rent prices are at a 4.2% increase.

Your favorite restaurant chains aren't immune to the highest inflation rates we've seen in decades either, and some have been taking more or less public measures to ensure that they keep average customer checks high and customers coming back for more.

Here are some of the ways America's favorite fast-casual Chipotle is getting you to spend more money.

And don't miss 4 Dine-In Chains Falling Out of Favor With Customers.

Adding new, more expensive items

chipotle pollo asado
Courtesy of Chipotle

One way Chipotle is trying to get around raising prices is by adding new, higher price-point items to the menu.

Chipotle's latest addition to the menu is its Pollo Asado, featuring bits of hand-chopped grilled chicken that have been tossed in a spice blend and coated in a marinade, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and cilantro. While the chain already serves chicken, the new, juicier-sounding chicken clocks in at 65 cents more, which means customers will be paying a higher price for essentially the same protein.

Speaking of new proteins, Chipotle also added a plant-based chorizo to their menu in January and released a limited-run smoked brisket last September. Entrees with smoked brisket had an average price of $10.25, which is higher than the average for other beef options from the Mexican chain.

And it isn't just the proteins—last year's cauliflower rice was sold for an upcharge of $2.

Charging for things that used to be free

chipotle flour tortilla
Courtesy of Chipotle

Gone are the days when you could ask for a free tortilla with your burrito bowl. In late 2020, Chipotle started charging 25 cents for a side tortilla—a decision that isn't likely to change any time soon.

Raising menu prices


Even if you aren't tempted by the newest chicken protein or quesadilla, you're still paying more for your bowl today than you did a year ago. The Mexican chain did up its food prices by 4% in December to combat ongoing inflation, and CEO Brian Niccol says prices will likely continue to rise.

In 2022 alone, menu prices have already gone up by 6%, and this percentage could be even higher based on where you live. New York City and San Francisco have some of the highest Chipotle prices, according to Restaurant Business Online, with a steak burrito costing $10.60 in the Big Apple and a carnitas burrito costing $10.45 in Silicon Valley.

Even if you don't live in one of these coastal cities, the average customer is spending 10% more now on their Chipotle than they did a year ago—and it's not because they're ordering extra food.

Ashley Uzer
Ashley Uzer is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer that focuses on food, relationships, and wellness. Read more about Ashley