The Capital Region's first taste of Chipotle

Chipotle.jpg

Chipotle is open.

By Laura Northrup

Lots of people in the Capital Region have been excited about the impending arrival of Chipotle. I'd never been to a Chipotle, so I didn't quite see what all the fuss was about. And since I live in Albany, Wilton is sort of a haul for a burrito .

Still, last week, the lure of free food proved too great for me to resist. So on Thursday I picked up a few friends, opened the sunroof, and headed North toward free burrito glory.

Now, as I said, I had never been to a Chipotle, but one of my free burrito day companions Emma could do me one better. Visiting from Australia, she had never eaten a burrito in her life.

Chipotle is located in the center of one of Wilton's approximately 5,000 strip malls. The interior is nice, simple, brushed-steel ... sort of a fast food answer to an Apple Store. The menu is simple . Your choices are a burrito, a fajita burrito (which has sautéed peppers instead of beans), a burrito bowl, tacos, or a salad. Meat choices are grilled chicken, grilled steak, shredded pork ("Carnitas"), shredded beef ("Barbacoa") and vegetarian, as well.

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You can pay for extras like chips or guacamole on non-veggie options, but it's a lot. "Are they charging as much for a dollop of guacamole as a gallon of gas costs where you live, too?" asked a friend in Boston. Not quite, but at $1.85, it's close.

When we arrived around 12:30, the line of about 50 people was out the door but moved very quickly. I counted 8 to 9 people making and packaging burritos behind the counter, and maybe a half-dozen in the back cooking more ingredients. Maybe twenty people were sitting in the tables and booths of the dining area, but most people were heading back to work, and took their burritos to go.

We made it through the line quickly and were surprised to receive free drinks as well, blackberry Izze sodas.

So, how's the food? I think I'd prefer a salad or burrito bowl, and I wasn't thrilled with the slightly charred taste of my chicken, even if I enjoyed the flavor. I'm now a bit obsessed with the corn salsa, though. I didn't see what was so special about the "cilantro-lime rice," since it just tasted like regular steamed rice within the burrito casing.

Emma, our burrito virgin, enjoyed hers immensely. She also pointed out that the amount of food we received was a decent value for the money even when it isn't free. AJ agreed about the food value and had nothing but good things to say about her marinated steak.

Overall: I'd stop in once in a while if it were closer.


Find It

Chipotle
3057 NY State Route 50
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Comments

Gas is cheaper in Massachusetts, so your friend is probably correct - a ramakin of guac = a gallon of (Mass) gas

My co-workers and I were quite excited about free burrito day, and we weren't disappointed. When all you have in the area is tasteless rice wrapped in a flour burrito (Bombers) and meats drowned in liquid for hours (Moe's) Chipotle is a welcomed addition IMO.

I miss Mighty Taco. Fast Food but much tastier than Taco Bell. They don't do the fill-it-with-rice-and-then-maybe-put-a-little-bit-of-meat thing like these other places. I'll give this place a try someday though.

You are spot on about the rice at Chipotle.

The secret is to ask for just a smidge of rice (enough to soak up some of the bean juice, but no more). Otherwise, the rice will suck all the goodness out of the burrito.

Their Barbacoa is delicious, and it's not just shredded, but spiced, braised and shredded. Chipotle toasts their spices and cooks their food fresh daily. I have always been impressed by their use of classic cooking techniques that build deep layers of flavor into their food. I even like the char on the chicken.

It's been a while since I have been to one, but at the time they were using humanely raised pork for their carnitas, which is of major importance to some. Plus the Niman Ranch pork is super delicious. And it speaks to the importance the chain puts on quality ingredients.

Perhaps that has something to do with the expense of the Guac.

@chief: Don't forget about El Loco and El Mariachi! I'm loving El Loco's combo platters these days, and El Mariachi just overall kicks my ass. Bonus: the sangria and margaritas. Heaven!

If I'm going to drive for a burrito, I'll won't settle for anything except Mexican Radio in Hudson, NY. (yes, it's a little more expensive than a ramekin of guac or the price of a gallon of gas in Mass!) I finally ate there on Saturday and was not disappointed. The rice, served on the side was delicious and moist. Well worth the NY state gallon(s) of gas!

Even though Bros is known for its tacos, you really need to try their burritos. My boyfriend practically salivates just at the thought of them.

Has anyone tried Bad Ass Burritos in Troy yet?

Oh no, not the awesome $36 pitcher of margaritas at El Mariachi!? hahaahahah

this place is very overpriced for the quality of food, atmosphere and drink...
too bad.

salsa latina i think is ok. not quite sure yet.

I'd rather eat paint chips that eat at El Loco, so I'll take a drive to Chipotle this spring.

Re: El Mariachi: I'll pay $8 for a margarita if it means I'm not getting a glass of sour mix and well tequila. Do I need to buy a whole pitcher? No. Otherwise, I find the place quite reasonable considering the quality and quantity of the food. It's not tex-mex, it's real mexican. The patio is also a great place to relax on a warm afternoon. I'm a fan.

I'm with Summer, if Brian is behind the bar at El M, at least I know I'm actually getting fresh squeezed limes and good tequila. In fact, he makes an even better daiquiri, more than worth the price when you compare it your average Albany dive.

Try Casa Oaxaca past the Empire State Plaza on the corner of Madison Ave and Philip Street. The most authentic in the area and voted Metroland's Best Mexican in 2008.

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