The Secret Menu Fresh Herb You Should Request At Chipotle

It's no longer a secret that many restaurants have secret menus. These unofficial menu hacks are widely shared on social media, revealing everything from how to order an In-N-Out burger animal style to Starbucks' secret menu Starburst Frappuccino. Chipotle Mexican Grill also has its own undisclosed menu, replete with all manner of ways to creatively order burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. One of these covert orders you can get at the fast-casual chain isn't so much a menu hack as it is an extra ingredient that you can add to any dish — you can request fresh, chopped cilantro. Just make sure you request it. And no, there's no additional charge. 

A simple order of cilantro may not seem like such a big deal, but it's not listed on its own anywhere on Chipotle's menu. While it is used as an ingredient in a bunch of different food items that are served there, it's not common knowledge that you can get it on its own or have it added to your order. You can get it on the side, wrapped right into your burrito, or sprinkled on as a topping for tacos, salads, and bowls. For fans of the aromatic herb who like to pile it on everything, this is nothing short of a revelation.

The controversy surrounding fresh cilantro

Ironically, Chipotle's use of cilantro is rather contentious, and the inclusion of it in both its white and brown rice is quite controversial. In fact, the brand's cilantro rice has become somewhat infamous because people are so divided over it; there are those who love it and those who absolutely hate it.

Due to an interesting quirk of genetics, a segment of the population (those who have the OR6A2 gene) find that cilantro tastes soapy. Rather than pick up on the delicious parsley-meets-citrus-like qualities that make the green leaves so perfect in Mexican food, for those with the gene, cilantro tastes and smells unpleasantly like perfumed soap. Since rice is the main base for Chipotle's burritos and bowls, some cilantro haters are dismayed by its inclusion therein, so much so that online campaigns and petitions have been created to demand its removal or for cilantro-free versions to be made available. Needless to say, these folks will most likely not be taking advantage of the secret menu's free cilantro option.

For as many as can't stand the stuff, both the rice and the herb remain popular. Judging by the thousands of cilantro-rice copycat recipes on the internet, there are plenty who like it. Rather than change its recipe, the company embraced the debate by turning it on its head and poking fun at it. In 2021, Chipotle began selling a cilantro-scented bar of soap — the novelty sold out within one day. Touché, Chipotle.

More Chipotle secret menu hacks

Even celebrities get in on the herbal dogpile. Cilantro is among Ina Garten's least favorite food ingredients, and you won't find it as anything other than a footnote in her recipes. Her predecessor, chef Julia Child, was not very fond of it either. But here's another secret that may help the cilantro averse — you can actually order rice at Chipotle without cilantro. It will take some time and the staff may very well not appreciate having to make it for you, but ultimately, they should be able to accommodate your preference.

As far as other secret menu items at Chipotle go, there's plenty to choose from that should satisfy both the cilantro lovers and the haters alike. Perhaps the most well-known hush-hush entree you can order there is the quesarito, which is exactly what it sounds like — a stuffed burrito that's wrapped up inside of a cheese quesadilla. If the name sounds familiar, that might be because Taco Bell attempted to steal Chipotle's thunder by adding its own version of the quesarito to its menu in 2014; however, by 2023 it had been discontinued.

For a similar one-two punch with a crunch, ask for the hidden menu's double-decker taco. This will get you a crunchy taco with all the fillings that is loaded into a cheesy soft taco around the outside. You can add all your favorite extras and sauces, and even double the hack by asking them to add fresh cilantro into the mix.