One of the best things about being an expat in the USA is finally getting to partake in all the things you’ve seen Americans eating/drinking/doing/talking about on television for so long, without having to wait for it to come to your country.
This week, we take a look at Chipotle Mexican Grill (or “Chipotes”, to those in the know).
What is it?
A wildly popular Tex-Mex chain with a menu of just four items (burritos, burrito bowls, tacos and salads) and a Henry Ford-esque assembly line used to put them together.
Chipotle’s hook is “food with integrity”, because they use naturally raised meat, organic produce, and dairy products without added hormones, most of which is sourced from local farmers. The company also boasts of preparing almost all of its food on-site, with no freezers or microwaves on the premises.
PR aside, though, I can personally report that Chipotle is delicious, inexpensive and satisfying.
What does it mean to Americans?
Fast food with a conscience. Chipotle is generally regarded as a healthy alternative to greasy burger joints, despite revelations that a fully-loaded burrito isn’t really any healthier than a Big Mac.
However, customers’ ability to customize their order in a more healthy manner was enough for Health.com to place Chipotle at number 6 on its ‘Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants’ list.
Where might I have seen it?
Reality television seems to give Chipotle a solid plug: Ozzy and the gang were regular customers on The Osbournes. Viewers of Keeping up with the Kardashians (we know you’re out there somewhere, ‘fess up) will also have seen Kim and the gang chowing down on Chipotes.
In what was less of an endorsement, South Park did the chain no favours with its ‘Dead Celebrities’ episode from season 13:
So what should I get?
It’s hard to go past a pork carnitas burrito bowl with guacamole. Guac might be $1.95 extra, but it’s always worth getting.
Herbivores can opt for the just-as-good vegetarian burrito bowl, which comes with beans and free guac.
When can I get it back home?
Chipotle opened one restaurant in London in May 2010, but the company said earlier this year that expanding their US operations is the main focus for now.
There are two more locations in Toronto.