Usually I’m too much of a snob to review chain restaurants, but this one is interesting. I had heard about their emphasis on fresh ingredients and positive reviews here and there. They are expanding so rapidly that there are two in the Syracuse area already. I tried out the one on Marshall St. on the SU hill, sporting my helpful two-fer coupon I’d received in the mail.
We are very interested in Mexican food, especially having visited there and eaten some incredible food, much of which doesn’t make it to the US except maybe at Rick Bayless‘ places. The first thing that struck me was the complete absence of any Mexican imagery in the restaurant. Instead, they have opted for very hip modern urbanity, with metal surfaces and minimalist layered wood chairs and tables. Though it has plenty of tables, it’s counter service without any waitstaff. So the overall effect is like a very fancy take out place. So you could eat pretty cheaply here. The air conditioning was strong, and on that day I appreciated it. Modern ambient music played in the background, which fit the decor.
Taking advantage of the coupon, I got to try two types of burritos, the barbacoa and carnita, beef and pork respectively. I was very impressed with the flavor, freshness, and quality ingredients. Like many such places, they ask you a lot of questions on which options you want, so you can customize quite a bit. I like spicy, so I asked for hot. It was muy picante, quite hot! So I’d probably do medium next time. It’s good to know if a restaurant means hot when they say it, and good to have a choice as well. The burritos and other meals run around 6 or 7 dollars. I liked it, and I’d consider going back! I remembered to ask if they had gluten-free stuff, and I was told that their corn taco fits the bill.
[I also photobombed some poor guy who was taking photos of the place from the outside. It was great fun, and I wonder if he’ll catch it.]
I had read awhile ago that Chipotle was having some difficulty sourcing fresh chicken. I suppose that this is one of the problems that arises when you want to use quality purveyors. I’m not sure what became of that, maybe one of you knows.
We really like Ponchito’s, which does roadside South American style food, a concept that is like a more rustic variation on what Chipotle is doing. Since they’ve expanded to the Valley Drive area, we miss seeing the original owner and his family here in Eastwood. There’s also another company downtown that is attempting this general idea, and we dutifully tried it, but although the staff was friendly, the food really wasn’t so good. You know you’re in for it when you’re looking at what seems to be a series of Sysco food trays. So they’re not really worth mentioning.
So apart from being possibly having the most misspelled restaurant name around, Chipotle is quite good for a chain!