While I have to admit that Tex-Mex isn’t my favorite cuisine, it does hold a place very near and dear to my heart. I lived off of burritos for a significant part of my college life.
My senior year in college, I moved into a rather upscale part of college town (if such a place could be said to exist where I went to college). With a Whole Foods next door (literally – my bedroom window looked out onto the alleyway where Whole Foods had their dumpster) and couple dozen restaurants within blocks, I was sure to have a wonderful year of eating.
However, unbeknownst to me at the time was that the highlight of my year would be a new fast food restaurant that opened directly across the street (literally – I could see it out of our living room window) shortly after my arrival. It was a Chipotle. Little did I know that the good burrito-wrapping people at Chipotle would become my best friends.
To say the least, my low budget and Varsity athletic appetite soon found Chipotle burritos a economical way to dispatch my hunger. My friends and roommates, some who were twice my size, were absolutely amazed that I could put away two of their huge burritos in one sitting with no problem. I ultimately settled on a favorite: chicken fajita burrito with rice and a little black beans, a mix of mild (tomato) and medium (corn) salsas, guacamole, cheese and just a dab of sour cream.
Despite being a McDonald’s subsidiary, I was in love with Chipotle.
Sad to leave college, I headed for another quadrant of our country in search of good food (and a living). While my new abode did not face a Chipotle, or any other restaurant (my place faced a nice big park), my office not only conveniently located across the street from one of the largest malls in America (whether this is a good or bad thing I’ll let you decide) – but more importantly, more than handful of good restaurants within a fork’s toss. Japanese, Italian, French, Korean, Chinese, seafood, steak, and… Tex-Mex.
By chance, my first day at work, my co-workers introduced me to their favorite burrito place across the street. They swore by Baja Fresh – a chain, I soon learned, that dotted the city like ABC convenient stores infest Honolulu. They raved about ordering their Baja Fresh burritos “wet.” Apparently a surfer term, “wet” burritos were covered in cheese and enchilada sauce (on the menu, it’s technically called “Enchilado Style”).
Anxious to find a worthy replacement to my beloved Chipotle, I dug in. After multiple visits, I finally came to a clear verdict – my heart and stomach would always be Chipotle’s. I found Baja Fresh’s burritos to be too greasy and heavy. The vegetables were overcooked and soggy. The meat was juicy, flavorful, but somehow lackluster…
I believe it was fate that, after a couple of months of dissatisfactory burrito-eating at Baja Fresh, brought my lover back to me. A brand-spankin’ new Chipotle opened a few months later in the beach community within walking distance of my home.
From then on, I spurned my “wet” and greasy seductress and I ventured off on my own culinary adventures on the office’s “Baja Fresh days” – knowing that I would go home to my tried and true soulmate, Chipotle, and enjoy my chicken fajita burrito with rice, black beans, two salsas, cheese, guacamole and a dab of sour cream on the beach… it was a love affair meant to be…