“ Addresses: 114-116 Charing Cross Rd., London, UK WC2H 0JR 101-103 Baker Street, London, UK W1U 6LN „
I FOUND THE CHIPOTLE IN LONDON! Some may already know, that I'm in love with Chipotle. I first stumbled across this gem of a 'fastfood' venue after recommendation from friends, when I was int eh states. The best way I find to describe it, it as a Mexican based fast-food outlet, with out the grease one would associate with chains such as MacDonalds or Burger King. However, the food probably is just as bad for you in terms of calories. The restaurant was founded in by Steve Ells (my latest hero, because of this one fact) in 1993 and based in Denver, Colorado. McDonalds used to own part of the company, but have since divested all shares (hurrah). It is officially known to specialise in San Francisco burritos (for the uninitiated, they are like what we would call a 'wrap', but bigger) its chunky guacamole, its large food and its simple assembly line production.
What I love about this restaurant is its simplicity. You queue and get to the counter then you go down the assembly line for the servers to make your chosen food in front of you. You get to add what ever you want (if you've been to a Subway, its a very similar process).
The menu consists of five items:
*Burrito (filled with rice, and black or pinto beans) - I had no idea what a burrito was when I first came to the states, but the best way to describe it is like a fat wrap, but filled with (more often than not) hot food in a tortilla.
*Faijta (the same as a burrito, but filled with onions and green peppers instead of beans),
*Burrito Bol (same as a burrito, but served in a paper bowl instead of in a tortilla),
*Cripsy or soft tacos (generally without beans, but you can add these if you want)
All the above come with one of the following fillings:
*Chicken (marinated in chipotle sauce),
*Carnitas (braised pork, seasoned with thyme, bay leaves, juniper berries, back pepper),
*Barbacoa (shredded beef, cooked with chipotle sauce, cumin, garlic and spices),
*Steak (marinated in chipotle sauce, but should also be noted that the meat isn't as good as might expect from a product refered to as 'steak'),
*Vegetables (guacamole, onions and peppers).
Then, any of the following can be added: Lime rice, Black beans, Pinto beans (apparently these contain pork???), Fajita vegetables (green peppers and onion), Fresh tomato salsa (mild), Tomatillo red-chilli salsa (medium hot), Roasted chilli-corn salsa (medium), Sour cream, Grated Cheese, Guacamole, Lettuce. You can also get side items of tortilla crisps and guacamole. To drink, you can get fountain drinks of coke, diet coke, sprite etc.
I always have the barbacoa burrito with black beans, tomato salsa, cheese, sour cream. These babies are massive, they are served wrapped in foil, in a little basket, and when held, would probably compare to two thirds of a tube of Pringles. You won't go hungry here! The foil aids in the eating, as you can peel back a strip of foil, allowing the fillings to stay in place and not get mushed through the tortilla, all over your hands. The taste is succulent, juicy, fresh with a subtle spiceyness.
Depending on which sauce you add, the heat from spice will warm your mouth nicely. I've tried the different meats, but always go back to the barbacoa, I prefer the spice of the beef and the texture over the other meats. I'm not a fan of the salads or the Burrito bols, as they don't feel as full to the brim as the burritos. Plus they make for an odd salad - beef (etc) and spicy sauces, beans and cheese etc. Having said, I always see lots of people eating them. For me, it's always a barbacoa burrito...I can't get enough of this place!
Food can cost in between £7-10, then an extra for additional items (guacamole), but you will hardly want to add anything else to the mix, as you are already paying for lots of food, as it is. Drinks are around £3, and chips and guacamole cost an additional £3. Simple, no hidden extras.
I wouldn't normally talk about the nutrition with a restaurant review, but I feel it important here. The calorific content of one burrito, will knock your socks off: 1000 calories - that's enough for the whole day! Like eating two meals. MSNBC Health placed the burritos in their list of '20 worst foods in America' (great!) but that hasn't stopped anyone eating them (typically). The negative press about the food is mainly due to high calories and sodium content. But who cares, right? Eeeek! The food is gorgeous! Double Eeeek! It's also interesting to note that Health.com placed the restaurant on its list of 'healthiest fast food restaurant' as only the flour tortillas for burritos and tacos contain gluten. All food is organic and the restaurants mission statement is called 'Food with Integrity' - so don't too feel guilty about stuffing your face!
There are currently 2 Chipotle's in London - but undoubtedly more will be popping up across the UK.
Each Chipotle is decorated differently, but all based around a theme. The general look is clean, wooden with industrial metal. Newer restaurants have started using white ceramic tiles instead of stainless steel, as apparently it's easier to recycle. There is a clear message of using sustainable materials and looking after the environment at the restaurants, with messages on the drinks cups about its responsibly sourced food and material. There is art in all restaurants - including human figurative art on the walls made from steel and wood, and black and white photography (of the first restaurant in Denver) give a certain classy to feel that doesn't make you think of it as a fast food outlet. There is a certain comforting feeling about this, or maybe I'm in denial, as I know what I'm about to put in my mouth.
I can't rave about this place enough! There are 2 in the capital, and I walked past a 3rd being built (just across a bit from Oxford Street) just this weekend. There are other similar restaurants dotted around though - for example you can try Mission Burrito in Oxford and Reading, as well as Tortilla in London - both restaurants are just as excellent. I'm a huge fan of this place, and thoroughly recommend you paying a visit if ever you get the opportunity.
This particular restaurant can be found at:
114-116 Charing Cross Road
Thanks for reading
© MarcoG 2012