In The Wild

90 Minutes With The Chipotle Boys

One reporter bravely spends the lunch rush at a Midtown location of the fast-casual chain. Here’s what she found.

One brave reporter spent 90 minutes with the Chipotle Boys during the Monday lunch rush.

It’s a Monday afternoon in New York, and I’m at Chipotle during the lunch rush. I’m surrounded by a sea of men clad in button-downs and black trousers, firmly connected to their AirPods. Many are tapping away at their phones, avoiding human contact as they wait in line before mumbling their order to the worker hurriedly scooping chicken, rice, and corn into paper to-go bowls (read: troughs). And although plenty of women are here, too, there’s a distinct vibe that this is a very Male Space™. Swaths of what the Internet is calling “Chipotle Boys” abound as far as the eye can see.

What’s a Chipotle Boy? It’s a young man who orders from the fast-casual Mexican chain more than one might see as safe or normal, per New York-based writer Jackson McHenry, who wrote on X last week, “overheard two twenty-something women discussing the concept of a ‘chipotle boy,’ apparently a boy who eats chipotle 5-7 days a week, ‘the chipotle boys are everywhere.’” They opt for convenience over novelty, speed over style.

The post resonated with quite a few folks, many of whom replied with quips like “this is actually every guy between the ages of 18-28” and “Someone must teach the Boys about seasoning + get them rice cookers. Perhaps a federal program.”

Many folks online simultaneously bemoan the downfall of Chipotle and its shrinking portion sizes — “the quality is not there and the price has increased,” TikToker Jeanine Amapola said in a viral video from July 2023. (Representatives maintain sizes have remained the same.) However, the company’s stock value is up nearly 50% since last year, and based on the scene playing out in front of me, with a long line of apparently very busy Chipotle Boys nearly running out the double doors, I’m beginning to understand why.

“My Office Is Right Upstairs”

Many of the men I spoke with in line at the West 48th Street location eat here several times during their work week. Take it from John, 24, a self-proclaimed “huge Chipotle advocate” who works in finance. He likes to pick up a heaping bowl of white rice, pinto beans, steak, hot salsa, sour cream, and cheese at least three times per week. Why? “It’s simple, it’s somewhat cheap, and it’s quick,” John says. Without any extras like guacamole or chips, a classic Chipotle chicken, steak, or al pastor burrito bowl costs about $13 depending on where you live.

Several diners I spoke with lauded Chipotle for its ability to, as John says, “tick all the boxes”: convenience, swift assembly, and nutritional value. After all, who needs variety when you have the intoxicating promise of optimization?

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“My office is right upstairs, so it’s so easy for me,” says Sosa, 27, who also works in finance. “More often than not, I eat it at my desk.” Like Sosa, many of the Chipotle Boys hadn’t walked more than a few blocks to be there (Manhattan’s 22.8 square miles are home to 57 locations — a finance bro doesn’t have to walk far) and were planning to bring back the food to their desks to eat as they continued looking at spreadsheets, illuminated by the gorgeous blue light of their black Lenovo monitors.

On the flip side, others use Chipotle as an excuse to get outside their office for a few brief, blissful moments. “The worst thing about American lunch culture is the whole eating in front of your desk thing,” says Adi, 39, who works in finance and was dining in, enjoying a bowl and a side of chips. “It’s depressing.” Perhaps then, for some, Chipotle acts as a beacon of hope? Where even the simple act of walking to the restaurant in the fresh air can be a nice change of scenery from a cubicle.

“Gym Boys Tend To Be Chipotle Boys”

Others noted that Chipotle skews protein-forward, which explains the large crossover with workout enthusiasts. “I’m into fitness, so I like to see what I’m eating,” says Kevin, 41, an engineer who heads to this location at least a few times a week. Jake*, 30, is a trainer who recommends the chain to his clients interested in counting macros. “Gym boys tend to be Chipotle Boys,” he says.

Perhaps the most extreme example is Mikal Bridges, a Brooklyn Nets player who claims to have ordered Chipotle daily for approximately 10 years. “It’s too fire not to have it every single time,” he told GQ Sports in December.

Who needs variety when you have the intoxicating promise of optimization?

Indeed, the Venn diagram of Chipotle Boys and Gym Bros is strong, traversing state lines and becoming a nationwide phenomenon. When considering the archetype, ardent fan Jeffrey, 26, says over the phone, “I think of tech bros who work near a Chipotle ‘tryna get those macros.’ They enjoy taking psychedelics in the desert and talking about their summer abroad.” While road-tripping between jobs, the software engineer is living out of his Tesla, which — at the time of reporting — is charging in an Arizona Chipotle parking lot. When asked what he likes more than the chain, he named his girlfriend and hiking.

“Just Let People Enjoy Things”

An increase in price and perceived drop in quality hasn’t deterred Peter, a 24-year-old writer, from evangelizing the brand both to his friends and online. “I really f*cking love Chipotle,” he says. (He does warn that the steak is overcooked approximately every 1 out of 8 visits and that the chicken is a more reliable bet.)

And although some wear the Chipotle Boy moniker like a badge of honor, others say it’s simply not that deep. “Just let people enjoy things,” says Buddi, 25, a law student in Virginia who orders a chicken bowl twice a week. Some days, I just have too much going on to cook,” he says. “There’s nothing more to it.”

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The emergence of the Chipotle Boy label prompts one to reconsider what it means to be a man who eats lunch in this day and age. In this productivity-obsessed culture, it seems that the modern state of American masculinity means choosing fast-casual food due to efficiency and life-sustaining nutrients, not necessarily enjoyment. It begs the question: Where is their lust for life? For taste? For beauty? Does it matter?

Possibly. “I order a chicken bowl with a side tortilla. That way I can make a burrito out of it with half of the bowl, and on Day Two, I can just eat the other half,” says Carl, 23, who works in advertising and eats this way nearly every day he commutes. When he sees the Chipotle Boy post, he laughs and says he feels “exposed.” “I do eat here quite frequently,” he says. “It makes me wonder if I should be shaking it up and getting a new personality.”

*Name has been changed for privacy.