One of the franchises can be found at 829 E. Bloomingdale Ave.
When I first walked into this ultra-clean restaurant, I was quite confused. Taking into account the length of time it took to remodel, I expected a huge menu with outrageous decorations and overpriced food. What I found was a totally new look from the previous owner's restaurant and a really short menu with only 16 listed items. Jon Streetman, the manager, is very proud of the entire concept of the restaurant, the employees and their inevitable success.
This restaurant chain prides itself and is willing to put in print the fact that it is an organic restaurant with no hormones being used on any of its products from meats to vegetables, but it still manages to keep it affordable for those of us who look for this in their food.
I wish they could teach their marketing skills to supermarkets, as I for one am tired of paying extra for food to NOT be treated with hormones. Don't get me started on that rant — back to the great food.
I looked up at the menu and saw burritos, bowls, salads and tacos — that's it! You are given a choice of chicken, steak, carnitas (pork), vegetarian and barbacoa (a braised and shredded beef) plus a choice of four different salsas and guacamole with fresh chips. The kids' menu consists of quesadillas and tacos — no chicken fingers or burgers here.
I ordered the chicken burrito with pinto beans, cheese and rice. I got a side of guacamole and some medium salsa with chips. I thought for sure I would be bringing some home, but that soon turned out to be a fantasy. My burrito was beyond delicious, with the chicken having a succulent and slightly spicy taste, and I couldn't put it down for more than a couple seconds at a time. The pinto beans were cooked with bits of bacon throughout, plump and well strained with very little juice going into the cilantro-lime rice. The rice was perfect (no flowering on the ends) and very fresh, with just enough body in the grains to soak up any liquid from the beans. The Monterey Jack cheese was freshly shredded, and the guacamole was as fresh as any I've ever tasted and possibly better than my own. Those of you out there who know me need to try this avocado treat and attest to the veracity of that claim and know what kind of compliment that is from me.
My wife ordered the steak burrito with pinto beans, cheese and rice, and she fell in love with her new favorite Mexican food place. My daughter, not a cheese fan and irked about the limited kids' menu, got the steak bowl with rice and beans and was amazed at how good the food was. She also got a side of mild salsa that quickly became a dipping sauce for mom's burrito, along with my salsa.
The two employees at the beginning of the food service line warned my wife and daughter that the steak might be a little too spicy, but it was just right for the both of them.
I have been reading about the controversial status of this restaurant for the past few months along with the brash attitude of the owner, Steve Ells, from Denver. This is one of several Chipotle restaurants in the bay area among more than a thousand franchises around the world, and I, for one, am happy they landed here in Bloomingdale.
But fair warning for those of you who think you are going to walk into a fine dining type of environment: Go somewhere else. This is a super clean and efficient establishment run by cooking professionals with awesome food. They even give calorie counts on the menus and offer organic milk to kids (chocolate or plain), and what else could you ask for?
I'm giving them four stars and will be going back for lunch today.
1 Star — Wouldn't go back on a bet
2 Star — Would have to go back, but only on a bet
3 Star — If I was in the neighborhood and hungry
4 Star — Would go out of my way even if I wasn't hungry
5 Star — Would make reservations and wait in a line