Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Chipotle Mexican Grill
I don't much care for Chipotle. I won't be going into any reasons save one: every item I have ever had from there has been bland. It has not mattered whether I received a just-put-out batch of meat, or whether I doused whatever item I ordered in salsa. I've had tacos and burritos and never once enjoyed my food.
But Elizabeth likes the place. (Actually, quite a few of my friends like the place.) A couple of years ago we received a buy-one-get-one-free coupon (which we seemed to get every two or three months) and I said we could go. But the nearest Chipotle was a few miles away and there were many closer restaurants that I preferred - to say nothing of two taco trucks serving food on a completely different level than Chipotle - so we never got around to it and the coupon expired. And I announced that I had no intention of visiting Chipotle and paying full price.
"Aw, man," Elizabeth said. "You were just waiting for the coupon to expire!"
I couldn't really argue with her, because she was probably right. So I made a promise: "Next time we get one of these coupons, we will definitely go."
And then, funnily, we never received one again. I don't know if they cut down on sending them out, but after receiving about five of them in a one-year period, we never received another.
Until the other day.
We live in Brooklyn now and there is a Chipotle down the street. And just like in Pasadena, there are still many restaurants I prefer between our home and Chipotle, even though the distance is now two blocks instead of three miles. So we've haven't visited it in the 10 months we've been here.
There was a long line inside but I have to give them their due, they sped things along very well. I thought we were looking at a 20-minute wait; it took about seven.
With the coupon, the total for two burritos and chips & salsa was $8.50. Not too shabby.
I had not eaten anything from Chipotle since 2000 (when I was 21 and visited Chipotle simply because they serve alcohol). It was better than I remembered, the ingredients were fresher, but it was still completely bland. The chicken, which claims to be marinated overnight in "smoky, spicy chipotle pepper adobo" was neither smoky nor spicy. I detected no chipotle flavor.
The veggies were oily and flavorless; the cheese was dry and flavorless.
The cilantro-lime rice was delicious. I was impressed with how moist and flavorful it was, though I laughed at the fact that the ingredient in my burrito most likely to be flavorless was instead the best.
I shook Trappey's hot sauce over each bite, which made it palatable, but nothing I ever plan to get again. I can understand the appeal of getting something like this on a lunch break (if Chipotle is close by and there is no better taco/burrito joint), but there is just no reason for me to ever visit the place for dinner. At full price this meal would have been about fifteen bucks: not expensive by any means, but for less money and perhaps twenty minutes of effort I can make a much better burrito at home.
I can't think of any place in Brooklyn where we have gotten dinner for two and received change back from a ten, so I can't really complain too much about this meal. And to be honest, if we get another one of those coupons one day and Elizabeth wants to return to Chipotle, I will do it. There are a lot of chains I hate, and upon returning after all these years, I realize that Chipotle isn't one of them. But I don't like it very much either and if I never eat there again, that will be just fine with me.
Posted by JustinM at 10:00 AM