Chipotle are large (around 2 to 4 inches) jalapeno that have been dried and smoked and so are called a "chile ahumado". About 1/5th of the jalapeno crop in Mexico are made into chipotles. There is also a "chipotle grande" which has been made from huachinango chiles. While available in dried and powdered forms, chipotle are commonly available tinned in a red adobo sauce.

Chipotle are wonderful in soups, salsas and sauces. The flavours are reminiscent of chocolate and Brazil nuts. On the Scofield scale of heat, chipotle are usually 5-6 out of 10. If you want to know how to make your own adobo sauce, click the hard link. If not, don't.

A chain Mexican restaurant, Chipotle's motto seems to be "Two things, thousands of ways." That's really not fair. They like to underestimate. Their menu consists of four entrees, and with the number of ingredients they have, it looks as though there are about (16! = 20,922,789,888,000) ways.

The menu features four items:

  • Burrito: Standard (if large) burritos. About a pound and a half of ingredients wrapped in a flour tortilla.
  • Fajita Burrito: A burrito with bell peppers and onions] instead of beans.
  • Burrito Bol: A burrito salad. Instead of wrapped in a tortilla, it's a mix of burrito ingredients in a bowl.
  • Tacos: Soft or crunchy tacos.

The fixins include the following:

Also available: chips and drinks.

In spite of my best intentions, I've become a regular at my local restaurant, to the point where I no longer have to order to get my usual. It's fast, it's something that I can easily take back to the office, and it's pretty decent for fast food. The fact that they're owned by McDonald's is not reflected at all in the quality of the food.

On the other hand, you're paying a little more than fast food prices, too. In Washington, D.C., at least, a burrito is about $5 (depending on what type). Add a drink for a buck and a quarter, and you're at $6.25 here. Want chips and guacamole? You're at about $8. Throw in the extortionate D.C. sales tax of 10%, and that's a decent chunk of change for fast food. Yet I go back multiple times weekly - so there's my endorsement. I recommend a chicken burrito with rice, black beans, mild and green-chili salsas, cheese and sour cream.

Also worth mentioning is the decor. The walls in every store are done in corrugated steel, with faux Mayan/Aztec art, making for sort of a strange Margaret Bourke-White visits Tenochtitlan vibe. They also proudly mention on their web site that the music is "a little too loud." It is, in fact, a little too loud, though I don't consider it a selling point, and I'm vaguely annoyed that it's intentional. Still, this is the only restaurant I've ever heard Warren Zevon's Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner playing in.

They're a national chain, owned by the McDonald's corporation (like Boston Market). A quick glance at the locations map on their web site ( reveals that there's probably one not too far from you, unless you live in the northwest, southeast or New England. Or, for that matter, outside the United States. Judging from the locations I've seen them in (Dupont Circle and Adams Morgan in Washington, D.C., and Naperville and the Chicago Loop in Illinois), it looks as though they're going for the "hip twentysomething professional" market.

Obviously, in spite of my protestations to the contrary, I'd recommend you check it out if there's one in your area. In about the same time as you'd take at McDonald's or Burger King, you get an actual decent meal.

Rating (out of five)
Bread: 4
Circuses: 2

Average price: $6.50 (burrito + drink) (prices may vary by region)

Chipotle locations I can neither confirm nor deny:
Ouroboros claims "there's also one in Berkeley, next to the REI store."

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