Chipotle vs. Taqueria: A Tale of Two Burritos

June 23 2007 - 11:06 PM

Ha! Dickens reference! But seriously folks, today I’m here
to relate my recent experiences with two chicken burritos, one from a big chain
restaurant and one from my local family-owned taqueria.

The first burrito I grabbed from the Chipotle Mexican Grill
on N. Sheridan. Chipotle, as you are all
likely aware, is a large national chain that has its ingredients all laid out
behind a big counter, kind of like at Subway, and you can pick and choose what
you want from those elements.

This has lead to Chipotle being described as “Taco Bell for
hipsters”, and there is an element of truth to that. Their website boasts a
“Food With Integrity” philosophy that means they use organic ingredients and
build their buildings in environmentally friendly ways. They also have an internet
radio station that plays indie rock. (I’m not kidding. Check it out.)
Also, their burritos were wrapped in a paper with the names of various bands
and musicians like Tom Waits and Warren Zevon on it. So that’s pretty hipster.

My aim is not to judge their hipness, however, but their
burritos, and I can say with confidence that I enjoyed their burrito. I got the
chicken burrito with corn salsa, black beans, rice and sour cream. It’s a big
burrito, about six inches, and it filled me up. It cost me about 6 bucks, which
is pretty reasonable considering how satisfying it was.

My second burrito adventure was from Taqueria Los Portales
near the intersection of Morse and Glenwood Ave. The illuminated sign
outside the door boasted “Authentic Mexican Cuisine,” which seemed accurate,
especially in comparison to Chipotle. The restaurant was a small place, with
only four or five tables and just a counter separating the eating area from the
kitchen. The service was friendly though, and it was busy even in the
mid-afternoon. It took about 20 minutes for me to get my burrito, but I kept
myself occupied watching the Spanish language soap operas they had on the TV.

Once the burrito arrived, it was more than satisfactory.
Like the Chipotle burrito, it was around six inches and very filling. It came
with sour cream, salsa, beans and rice, as well. This burrito was only 5 bucks.

Each burrito experience had its pros and cons. Chipotle was
a nice break from the heat on a summer day, being well air conditioned and
having fast service. I also really enjoyed their corn salsa. Los Portales on
the other hand had a more authentic atmosphere and I could tell that they had
cooked the chicken fresh, just for my burrito. Also, it was a little cheaper.

Next up, tacos!

Taqueria Los Portales