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After my Salsarita’s disappointment,
two three folks have recommended Chipotle. One was the dad of one of my students, and he put it like this: “If you’ve had Qdoba and Salsarita’s and are sort of okay with them, you’ll love Chipotle.”
Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Salsarita’s, I am okay with Qdoba, probably mostly because I usually order the nachos instead of their lackluster burritos. At any rate, according to the aforementioned student dad, this meant I’d love Chipotle. I was intrigued.
I love Mexican food more than perhaps you’re supposed to love any sort of food, period. More than you’re supposed to love all food combined, even. It’s my fave. Thai is definitely in the running, but Mexican has my heart. It can be done way, way wrong, though. Trying out a new Mexican restaurant and finding out that it’s mediocre is almost more disappointing than just choosing a restaurant you know is crappy to begin with — because your expectations are just so high. I was really hoping Chipotle wasn’t going to be a huge disappointment.
Mike and I decided to give it a try and visited one in Raleigh (I figure they’re all the same, guys). One of the things we loved immediately was how simple the menu is. They tell you what dishes they can make and what meats they have, and you pick a combo of the two. Mike chose a steak burrito, and I chose a chicken burrito . . . until I saw the pork.
The best picture of my burrito I could get in the dim lighting! Bah.
Pork, like Mexican, can be done way wrong. But it was clear that this pork was way right: it was dripping with porky juiciness in its little bin. I changed my order (the dude making my burrito hadn’t put the meat on yet and was very nice about my indecision) and voila — carnitas it was! Add to that some black beans, chunky medium salsa, lime rice, sour cream, and cheese, and we were ready to eat. Well, after we ordered a bag o’ chips and some guacamole, that is. I’d heard their chips were fantastic.
Before taking a bite, I went to get my fountain drink and immediately decided Chipotle was a fantastic place — can you guess what I found? FOUNTAIN COKE ZERO. Dear every restaurant everywhere, please go ahead and get fountain Coke Zero. It is seriously superior to every other soft drink. Thanks! Love, Julie.
Mike’s steak burrito
I made my now-gleeful way back to my seat and dug in. Mike’s burrito was good, but I wasn’t huge on whatever they’d marinated the steak in. My burrito on the other hand — with that slightly sweet pork flavor and the kickin’ chunky salsa — was delectable. The chips were crisp and tasted like they’d been spritzed with lime (this extra step is definitely what made them wonderful). Dunked in the good-but-not-On-the-Border-good gaucamole, they were the perfect side. All in all, we enjoyed the meal a lot.
My meal (Carnitas Burrito, Chips & Guac, and a soda) cost $11.53 — a little high, but not too bad I guess. Mike’s was cheaper with no chips and a water — probably around $7, but I don’t remember exactly.
I’ll continue to visit Qdoba for some nachos (they’re delish, y’all; forget the rest of the menu) because it’s close by, but I’m excited to go to Chipotle again soon.
Charlotte Spoon Rating: 3.5 out of 5 spoons