For many years burritos stood as one of the best fast-casual Tex-Mex options. Easily held and eaten (sometimes), they exist as quick way to grab lunch and not need a fork. But many burritos have become unwieldy. Depending on who serves you, your burrito could be the size of a sushi roll or as big as a newborn panda. To solve this problem, burrito bowls have come into play.
Since we are in Texas, we're always judging to see which Tex-Mex place is the best, so here's my ranking of a few of the places where you can trade your monstrous burrito wrapped in foil for a fork and a bowl.
Upside: FREE QUESO. Well, nothing is actually free, but Qdoba doesn't charge you extra for anything you want to add to your bowl, so add on queso, guacamole, extra queso, more black beans, mango salsa (which happens to be kind of amazing), extra queso ...
Total downer: The only protein option here for vegetarians is beans. Black beans, pinto beans, beans, beans and more beans. Beans for days. They lack any form of a soy meat substitute, so if you're looking for tofu then take a step back and keep searching.
Upside: The opposite of Qdoba, they do have tofu. It's this spicy tofu they call "sofritas" because hipsters go there. Plus, they don't charge extra for guacamole if you don't get any meat or sofritas in your bowl. But if you are an omnivore (or carnivore) for life, their ultra organic ingredients like grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken can make any animal rights supporter happy.
Total downer: No queso. How? Why? Is life even possible without queso? I understand that it's just glorified melted cheese with seasoning, but still, queso is life. If I could eat queso with every meal without getting sick then I would. This is almost a deal breaker since they are one of the only fast-casual Tex-Mex chains without queso.
Upside: Spanish rice that actually looks like it should: orange. There might be some sort of food coloring that goes into transforming it from white to that shade of the sunset, but it's okay – just don't think about it. Also, calabacitas is amazing. You won't find a mixture of veggies as diverse as this one at any of the other four places on this list. Not only that, the veggies are cooked with a soy protein mixture to give your brain an extra boost and keep those neurons firing.
Total downer: As you could probably tell from above entries, my judgement lies very much in the realm of queso, and theirs could be better. Also, why are their bell peppers cut into squares? Even worse, there's no bite to their veggies. They don't need to be raw or anything, but they shouldn't be squishy to the point that the skin separates from the rest of the pepper.
4. Moe's Southwest Grill
Upside: If you hate beans but you're a vegetarian then you hopefully love tofu as your main source of protein. And they actually call it tofu, unlike chipotle. It's also not spicy, for those people who love Tex-Mex but can't seem to handle peppers. Don't be afraid to try the tofu if you're not a vegetarian. It's still good since it just takes on the flavor of everything else in the bowl.
Total Downer: Even with all of their natural ingredients, they still use plastic bowls. Biodegradable or reusable dishes are where the world is heading. Moe's shouldn't be lagging behind. Plastic is bad for the environment that all those fresh ingredients they sell grow in.
5. Taco Cabana
Upside: 24-hour drive-thru. Tex-Mex all day long? Yes, please. This is the only restaurant on this list that has a drive-thru, so don't get out of your car to get a bowl from here. Plus, they've already decided what will go into your bowl, so take these few minutes as you wait for them to put it together to check Twitter, because you know you're twitching from the effort of (hopefully) ignoring all of those notifications during the 15 minute drive to the restaurant.
Total Downer: What even is that crispy tortilla they line your bowl with? Like every other 5 year-old, I started out eating crispy taco tortillas because it's the closest thing we can find to eating potato chips for dinner, but I have no idea what the tortilla was fried in. Acid? Maybe they're perpetually using two week old grease.