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Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken


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The 729-unit chain did not start its life as Qdoba. When the Mexican food chain was first founded by Robert Miller and Anthony Hauser in Denver, Colorado in 1995 it was called Zuma Mexican Grill, named after a friend’s cat. As it turns out, a restaurant in Boston had that same name and threatened to sue, so the partners changed the name to Z-Teca. It wasn’t long before two different restaurants threatened to sue for that name—Z’Tejas in Arizona and Azteca in Washington—and the partners were forced to change the name yet again. This time they called their restaurant  Qdoba, a completely made-up name that was unlikely to be used by anyone else.             

A signature item and consistent top seller is this marinated adobo chicken, offered as a main ingredient in most of the chain’s selections. Make this chicken by marinating thigh meat for a couple of days in the secret adobo sauce (a worker there told me they let it soak for up to 8 days) then grill and chop. Use the flavorful chicken in burritos, tacos, bowls, on nachos, and in tortilla soup.

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  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies (rinsed)
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