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Qdoba: where the cheese is melty and gooey, and the veggies are cool and crisp. I’ve loved Qdoba for years so this review may be a little biased. My first experience with this Mexican chain takes me back to a time around 2008 when my buddies and I would head down to Nashville to attend car shows. The Qdoba near Vanderbilt University always drew us in with their massive burritos filled with delicious grilled chicken and queso. It was years later before a location opened in Western Kentucky right across from the Murray State University football field. Finally, I no longer had to drive to Nashville or St. Louis to enjoy the burritos I longed for. I was ecstatic Qdoba arrived in Paducah! Thanks to Tony Page (who also owns and operates our local Dairy Queens and Jimmy John’s) for bringing the Qdoba taste home!

On the day of my review, Manager Fred Rodriguez welcomed my arrival with a huge smile. He informed me he was going to prepare some of his favorite dishes. My “appetizer” was a Grilled Chicken Quesadilla large enough to appetize a 4-top. 

Marinated, grilled adobo chicken is topped with shredded cheese, jalapenos, and corn salsa before it’s lightly toasted to perfection. Melty cheese oozes out the sides of every wedge. As I ate, Fred educated me on how much time and attention goes into the food at Qdoba. They marinate the chicken in house for 24 hours. They cut all of the vegetables fresh by hand, and their beloved guacamole is made fresh right there in their kitchen. Because Qdoba is a quick service chain, I had just assumed the meats were frozen, the vegetables came from a vacuum-sealed bag, and guac was from a can. It says a lot about Qdoba that they’re willing to put this kind of time and attention to detail into making every ingredient as tasty as it can be. 

Next up was something I didn’t even know was on the menu:  Pulled Pork Tortilla Soup. Served up in a tortilla bowl and topped with diced red onions, jalapenos, a drizzle of sour cream, and crispy tortilla strips for texture, this isn’t your average soup. Packed with protein, it’s warm and filling and was really delicious on this cold winter day. The Pulled Pork Tortilla Soup isn’t what I had in mind when I heard the name, but I was left wanting to gobble down the whole bowl.

My entree was the 3-Cheese Nachos. Fred loaded up some cheese-covered crispy tortilla chips with grilled adobo chicken, black beans, diced red onions, jalapenos, my favorite Roja salsa, corn salsa, sour cream drizzle, two scoops of guac, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro. If you think ballpark nachos can not be beat, think again. Every classic Mexican flavor and texture is in this dish! The queso is one of the things Qdoba is known for, and it’s the star of the show is most definitely these nachos. The 3-Cheese Nachos are gooey and spicy and plentiful on that bed of chips which the Qdoba team is careful not to make soggy. 

I’m so glad Fred chose these dishes. It’s so easy to keep ordering the same menu items over and over again and not ever try something new. Despite being a Qdoba regular, I had never had either of these three dishes before today, and I loved all three. All of the flavors that I love from my regular order, served up in a fresh way reinvigorated my love for Qdoba. Next time you’re in, I challenge you to break out of your shell and try something new from the menu.

I’d like to thank Qdoba for having me as well as our sponsor, The Clemens Fine Arts Center. Be sure to attend one of their upcoming shows from the Arts In Focus Series. Find more information on their website at this link.