There are Qdoba Mexican Grills in Baton Rouge, Bryn Mawr, Boston, and Bloomington, but there’s not a single one in coastal California north of Los Angeles County, which may explain why I first encountered the restaurant, and the name, away from home—in Portland, Oregon, to be precise.
The website offers no clues. So I ran through a list of possibilities:
1. Something to do with Córdoba, the city in Spain. Which might make sense if this were a chain of Spanish restaurants.
2. Barbeque (’que) meets (misspelled) adobe!
3. It’s inspired by adobo, a peppery marinade or seasoning mix used in the Southwest United States—or a cooking process popular in the Philippines. Only with a feminine ending. And a Q because . . . ¿quién sabe?
4. It means nothing. Qdoba.com happened to be available when the chain launched its website.
5. Your suggestion here.
UPDATE: On Twitter, nancycc (of the excellent Nancy’s Baby Names blog) forwarded an article published in QSR magazine about Qdoba, which was originally called Z-Teca. The name change was effected by Terry Heckler of Heckler & Associates, a Seattle ad agency; according to the article, Heckler is also responsible for naming Starbucks (in 1971) and the Panera Bread chain (originally the St. Louis Bread Company). According to Heckler, Qdoba means nothing . . . and that’s its virtue. (BTW, QSR stands for quick-serve restaurant, the industry term for fast food.)