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Restaurants

Qdoba Mexican Grill ~ Knoxville TN

On a whirlwind trip to Knoxville, we drove by a Qdoba Mexican Grill. Long time fans of Chipotle, I had wondered if Qdoba could satisfy some of our longing for Chipotle.

We popped in, hungry for dinner and excited to see the long assembly line reminiscent of our favorite restaurant. We talked to the manager, and he overheard us say "Chipotle." He told us that Qdoba was very close to Chipotle, and that their corporate offices were across the street from each other in Denver. He assured us that Qdoba was better than Chipotle and we would like it.

Well, the last few times someone has said their restaurant was better than Chipotle, we ended up very disappointed.  I would rather a restaurant stand on it's own merit, and emphasis it's own uniqueness. They had set the bar high....but hey - we are crazy California transplants always dying to find great Mexican food, so we hoped that Qdoba would deliver! 

Emily ordered a Queso Burritos.  That was going off her beaten path a little, since they use a 3 cheese queso sauce in it. She ordered all of her favorite toppings, chicken, cilantro lime rice, lettuce, lots of salsa, cilantro, sour cream and jalapenos. (this is from memory, so I may be a little off there - it wasn't my burrito!) Normally her burritos are HUGE, absolutely humungous and for some reason, the Queso Burrito looked a little puny. No worry.

Emily ate her burrito painfully. It was not the flavor explosion she craved, it wasn't Chipotles, or even Barberitos or Salsaritas. Normally her burritos look like these huge salady looking, fresh orbs, filled with rice, vegetables, meat, salsa and jalapenos. The Qdoba burrito ended up being a gooey queso saucy glob of carbs.  It did not seem fresh with the gloppy queso sauce. I should have warned her not to get the queso - but to get cheese. Unfortunately, she politely ate it, and THEN told me. Ugh. We could have at least asked to have it remade, but once it was eaten, that was too late. 

Wanting to stay on my Anti-Inflammatory Diet, I chose the Taco Salad with no shell. He piled romaine lettuce up, topped with Qdoba's spicy adobo marinated chicken. I then chose fresh sauteed veggies, cheese, tomatoes, and two salsas - the Pico de Gallo and the Roasted Chile Corn, topped with guacamole. I asked for the black beans on the side, rather than on the salad.

My salad was okay. It was 100% on my AI diet, so I can't complain there. I made "safe" choices. But it lacked flavor. The marinated chicken was bland. The Roasted Chile Corn salsa was allegedly "medium" in hotness and it was sweet instead. The pico was good! The black beans were okay. 

Since we were reviewing the restaurant, he allowed me to sample both the seasoned shredded beef and the shredded pork. The shredded pork was bland. The seasoned shredded beef was EXCELLENT! Yeah - something we could say something good about!

We sat in the spacious dining room and ate, watching TV's that had the food channel, and a sports show on. The atmosphere was typical Mexican grill, in a fast foody sort of way. The food channel was the best part of the whole experience.

For some reason, there were some men in uniform trooping in and out of the restaurant. It was very distracting. It looked like the linen guy, but that made no sense. It wasn't like a normal linen delivery. The manager had a lot of contact with the guys, perhaps they were friends? Not sure, but all of the activity really diminshed the experience.

We left disappointed. After the Chipotle comment, knowing how some Mexican grills are very proprietary and private about their food stations, we had asked the manager UP FRONT if we could take a photograph and post it to the web. We don't want to violate policy. While we prefer to be anonymous - we have found that with some restaurants, it is better to ask. He just acted weird the whole time we were there - and it made us feel uncomfortable.

All in all, LivingHistorySites.com is very sorry to report that we do NOT recommend Qdoba Grill in Knoxville TN. It felt like an utter waste of money, and left a bad taste in our mouth.

Not sure if we will be brave enough to spend our hard earned cash on another Qdobas anytime soon!

Knoxville #519
175 N. Peters Road
Unit #13B
Knoxville, TN 37923
865-470-7888
865-470-7887 fax