For a complete compilation of all the Mexican takeout restaurants the FoodCourt considered, click here.

Download a PDF copy of the FoodCourt’s opinion: Mexican Takeout Establishments v. AFJ


Supreme FoodCourt of AFJ

Mexican Takeout Establishments v. AFJ

August 1, 2011

Justice Lauman delivered the opinion of the Court, which was joined by Justices Franco-Malone, Brown, Shea, Carson, Goldsmith, Friedlander, and Steinberg. Chief Justice Franco-Malone filed a concurring opinion.  Justice Yung filed a dissenting opinion.

  1. I.                   Background

The venerable Food Court of the Alliance for Justice considered a full docket of Mexican takeout establishments, including Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Tomatillo Taqueria, and Well-Dressed Burrito.  These vendors were ranked and assessed based on taste, freshness, service, proximity, overall value, and other pertinent categories.  Only one establishment could be chosen as the victor.  Fortunately, one stood far above the rest.[1]

  1. II.                Analysis

In close proximity to the Alliance for Justice office, a familiar sight greets you: a simplistic reminder, unadorned by the trappings of modern advertising, enticing you to enjoy the succulence of customizable Mexican-style food.  The cool metallic theme is matched by the sophisticated post-modern elegance of the hip interior.  You are equally welcome to enjoy your upcoming order within the restaurant’s four walls, or to take your meal with you to the afternoon Sun of Dupont Circle (or, of course, your nearby non-profit organization’s office).

Once inside, the wonder truly begins.  Tacos, burritos, burrito bols – from the very start, this is your creation.  Rice, black beans, fajitas?  The choice is yours.  Barbacoa, steak, guacamole, vegetarian substitute, and various other toppings await.  Chips and guacamole is simply an added bonus, the coup de grâce, to be sure. The sheer variety is overwhelming in its delightful wonder.  This is democracy in its finest form.  Walking through a Chipotle line, a hope for a better tomorrow is rekindled.

Once you have paid your kindly cashier, opened the metallic wrapper, and dug into this culinary masterpiece, it is clear that the competition – with less variety, lackluster service, less taste, and frankly inferior quality – cannot match Chipotle.  It is for these reasons that, while some may lack the taste or cultural refinement to appreciate this gift to modern gentrification, Chipotle is the decisive Mexican Takeout term winner.

It is so ordered.


Supreme FoodCourt of AFJ

Mexican Takeout Establishments v. AFJ

August 1, 2011

Chief Justice Franco-Malone, concurring in the judgment.

I concur in the opinion, as Chipotle is the establishment I would most likely frequent to satisfy a craving for fast Mexican food, however I write separately to address the paramount issue of chips and salsa.

Chipotle’s chips and salsa are certainly adequate, but did not reign supreme. That title belongs without question to Baja Fresh.  With nearly every meal, Baja provides the takeout diner with a complimentary bag of chips.  Those chips can then be taken to the nearby salsa bar, where a variety of delightful dipping options await.  Whether one chooses the mild tomatillo salsa verde, the smoky chipotle salsa, a refreshing pico de gallo, the array of choices is abundant.

Chipotle’s chips are quite satisfying, though they cannot compare with Baja. Chipotle chips are pre-treated with a generous sprinkling of lime and rock salt, making them a tasty snack even without a salsa to accompany them.  The salsas that are provided are good, though one does not have the benefit of independently exploring the choices, or sampling multiple salsas, and purchasers of the chips and salsa side are limited to one selection.

Utterly disappointing was the caliber of chips offered by the Well-Dressed Burrito.  The chips had obviously been purchased from a grocery store (and quite a while before being served, given their sad, stale state), and simply repackaged into a ziplock bag.  None of the three salsas offered to accompany these disappointing dipping vehicles were satisfying.  Based on the chips alone, the Well-Dressed Burrito is not a venue I can in good conscience recommend to fellow diners.


Supreme FoodCourt of AFJ

Mexican Takeout Establishments v. AFJ

August 1, 2011

Justice Yung, dissenting from the judgment:

It is always easy to be swayed by convenience, portion size and the presence of large food chains, but it is to my disappointment that I find my fellow Justices swayed along with the masses. Not only does Chipotle indifferently mass-produce unhealthy portions of food (which, if the customer is not careful to specify, is half-smothered by sour cream and cheese to a point of disgust), but it also charges exorbitant prices for its non-service. The flavor of the meat is lacking and the cilantro rice is really its only saving grace.

Turn now to the hole-in-the-wall charm of Tomatillo Taqueria, where you get a perfectly-sized meal for almost half the price of Chipotle and with twice the variety available in each order – the meats are flavorful and juicy, the guacamole delicious, and best of all, there is no dithering over what should be ordered in what combination. The choices, the best gustative choices, have already been pre-determined for you, saving you the pain of standing at a counter and the stress of watching indifferent servers callously toss ingredients into your burrito bowl fearing that they might put in something you did not ask for.

Sometimes, one must make a choice between doing what is right and what is easy. Here, the choice for me is clear. I respectfully but vociferously dissent the majority opinion.

Chipotle:  4.6 gavels! (winner of this term)

Overall:  4.6 (Brian: 4.5, April: 5, Eva: 3, Rayza: 4.5, Leah: 5, Josh: 5, Dan F.: 4.5, Peter: 5, Danielle: 4.5, Joe: 4.5)

Taste:  4.5 (Brian: 4.5, April: 4.5, Eva: 4.5, Rayza: 4.5, Leah: 4, Josh: 4.5, Dan F.: 4.5, Peter: 4.5, Danielle: 5, Joe: 4.5)

Proximity: 2 blocks from the circle, 5 minute walk.

Menu: Good variety and very vegetarian-friendly. Small but satisfactory selection of items (three flavors of meat + a veggie option for tacos or burritos).

Price/Value:  $7 – a bit more expensive than other places, but a good amount of food.

Service: Efficient assembly line style service – good but very impersonal.

Pros:  The cilantro lime rice was considered a “pro” by a vote of 8-3, and the salty limey chips were considered a pro by a vote of 7-2, availability of “garden blend” fake meat, use of local ingredients, good salad dressing, wide array of drinks from fountain machine, availability of nutrition info at

Cons: Guacamole is okay but not great, absence of a salsa bar, politically incorrect firing of Latino workers at Columbia Heights location.

Tomatillo Taqueria: 3.7 gavels!

Overall:  3.7  (Devan: 3.5, Rayza: 3, Eva: 4.5, Dan F.: 3.5, Dan M.: 4, Brian: 3.5, Joe: 3, Peter: 4, Sue: 4, Danielle: 4)

Taste:  3.8  (Devan: 4, Rayza: 4, Eva: 4, Dan F.: 3.5, Dan M.: 4, Brian: 3.5, Joe: 3.5, Peter: 3.5, Sue: 3.5, Danielle: 4.5)

Proximity: .5 blocks from the circle, <5 minute walk.

Menu: Small but satisfactory selection of items (three flavors of meat + a veggie option for tacos or burritos).

Price/Value:  $6 – a pretty good value (but they are skimpy on the guac!)

Service: Friendly, but there is only one person assembling the food so it can be slow.  The guac could have been spread with more care.

Pros:  Nearby, cheap, tasty, and unique.

Cons: The chips were stale and grocery store quality. The tortillas were average.  Facility may be evading taxes by requiring cash only.

Baja Fresh: 3.7 Gavels!

Overall: 3.7 (Eva: 3.5, Leah: 3.5, Rayza: 3.5, Josh: 3.5, Brian: 3.5, Dan F.: 4, April: 3.5, Danielle: 4, Joe: 4)

Taste: 3.9 (Eva: 4, Leah: 3.5, Rayza: 4, Josh: 4.5, Brian: 3.5, Dan F.: 4, April: 3.5, Danielle: 4, Joe: 4)

Proximity: .5 blocks from the circle, <5 minute walk.

Menu: Good selection and many tasty sides.

Price/Value:  On average $7/item – decent value.

Service: Quick

Pros: Delicious chips and a salsa bar with lots of choices, availability of coupons, the chicken and meats seemed to be grilled fresh.

Cons: Bad burrito wrapping job (Danielle’s fell apart), the salsa bar is open and can get messy, very fast food feeling.

Well-Dressed Burrito: 3.6 gavels!

Overall: 3.6 (Sue: 4.5, Brian: 4.5, Dan F.: 3, Abby: 2, Dan V.: 3, Eva: 3.5, Raisa: 3.5, Danielle, 3.5, Joe: 4.5)

Taste: 3.9 (Sue: 4.5, Brian: 4, Dan F.: 4, Abby: 3.5, Dan V.: 3.5, Eva: 4, Raisa: 4, Danielle, 3.5, Joe: 4)

Proximity: 3.5 blocks from the circle, 8 minute walk.

Menu: Good selection and a decent variety of options.

Price/Value:  On average $6-7/item – a great value for the amount of food you get.

Service: Good (aside from confusion over whether and when to pay the $.05 for a carryout bag)

Pros: A variety of tasty and inexpensive sides, desserts were available (including Mexican Bread Pudding and cinnamon sugar chips), salmon available for Brian (though not very good).

Cons: The chips were regular old Tostitos, none of the salsas were very tasty, a bit far away.

[1] Allegations have been raised that a particular Chipotle franchise, located in Columbia Heights, recently engaged in ethically questionable employment practices.  As these are unconfirmed, this opinion will merely note that if true, these would represent serious concerns.


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