Monday, August 9, 2010

Rochester: Chico's Burritos

What do you get if you cross a Chipotle with a Subway? The answer is Chico ’s Burritos. Except that Chico ’s lacks the same attitude that Chipotle has, and it’s clear that they aren’t aiming for the college crowd the way Chipotle does. As of this writing, I am unsure if the Chico ’s Burritos that has made its home in the downtown subway is related to other Chico ’s Burritos that are dispersed around the country, and I can’t find any unifying website to signify that this is part of a chain.

The concept of Chico ’s Burritos is simple. It’s much like a Chipotle, serving the same sort of burritos, burrito bowls, salads, and nachos that you can find at Chipotle, but there are also some differences. One is there are no fajita vegetables. However, you have the option of white rice and Spanish rice for your burrito, as well as a cheese sauce. Another is the fact that you can essentially custom create your own nacho supreme dish if you so chose, which I don’t think is something that Chipotle allows you to do.

On the day I was there, arriving shortly after 12 noon, they had run out of the chicken, however, thus reducing the variety of burrito you could get from four down to three. A little after 12 seemed a little early into the lunch rush to have run out of something. This could simply be that they are new (they had only opened up a couple of days before I was there), and they didn’t know how to plan for the rush. Let’s hope that’s all it was, and not a sign of things to come.

Then it comes to the toppings. While I think that Chico’s Burritos has fewer salsa choices than Chipotle does, overall, Chico’s has more toppings to chose from, including jalapenos, black olives, corn, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese, a jalapeno salsa, pico de gallo, and cilantro (and the sour cream and guacamole). The look and feel of this makes it seem more like Subway, where you choose what you have on your lunch.

At $5.99 per burrito, price-wise, it is comparable to Chipotle’s prices, and the size of the burrito is comparable as well. I liked the taste of the burrito I bought from Chico’s, and it is very similar to Chipotle, although I feel it is unfair to compare the two totally since I was able to customize the taste based on the items I inserted into the burrito, thus altering any true comparison.

A couple of drawbacks here: They only had one warmer for the burrito shells, so the line may move a bit slower than it would at Chipotle. Also, actually having more choices for the toppings may also slow down the line, though they do have room for two people to simultaneously work on what toppings someone wants, which does help significantly. Another drawback was that you could see the liquid from either the meat or the salsa flowing along the shell as they wrapped it up, which told me that this was going to be a messy burrito to eat.

In looking at the menu, another difference that they have with Chipotle is that there are breakfast burritos for $4 on the menu. This comes with scrambled eggs, and then your choice of sausage, jalapeno bacon, or ground beef. The rest of the burrito toppings remain the same. In my experience, this was a bit smaller than the lunch burrito, though I get the feeling I could have made this as big as I wanted, as I was asked if enough Spanish rice had been put on the burrito, and I didn't go with as many toppings as I had for the lunch burrito.

Overall, it’s great to have a burrito place downtown. We do have the Fiesta Express in the Food Court across the street, but the two really are in different classes. And while I would have preferred something that would have added something new to Rochester’s restaurant make-up, particularly when it comes to Mexican food—maybe something like Chino Bandido from the Phoenix area, Chico’s Burritos is definitely worth the stop.

Chico's Burritos on Urbanspoon

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