Ok, so it's a chain restaurant. Granted. But at Chipotle Mexican Grille in Cleveland Circle, the healthy, fresh ingredients, friendly service and myriad choices and selections more than make up for that forgivable detail. In fact, you won't believe what you're about to read.
It all starts with the decor, which is hip, clean, modern and makes you forget that you are in a "quick service restaurant." It has floor-to-ceiling windows with barstool seating in the front. Behind that is a clean, fully-stocked area to fetch napkins and condiments. And all that is surrounded by comfortable booths.
Chipotle is well-lit and has lots of aluminum, tall ceilings and trendy light fixtures. There is always loud, eclectic music playing, and by the way, did we mention clean? But the best is yet to come.
According to their website, Chipotle uses "Food With Integrity". Loosely translated, that means foods that are unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic and artisanal. Surprisingly, Chipotle serves more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the country. It is the same type of philosophy highlighted in the movie Food, Inc.
On a recent visit, we were immediately greeted at the counter by ridiculously friendly servers who inquired how our days were going during a quick and cheery discourse.
We ordered 3 tacos ($6.65) and a side of guacamole ($1.95) to split between us and it then became decision-making time. What did we want on them? Did we want hard shell or soft? Chicken, steak or pork? What toppings? What kind of beans? What type of salsas? And the list went on.
The tacos were perfectly constructed with no one ingredient dominating the party. The freshness is unmistakable and the quality of ingredients makes you wonder why other restaurants of this type can't follow the leader. It's that good, simple and seemingly so obvious.
The guacamole was a nice, smooth texture with a very slight heat. It also had lots of lemon, which gives it that added burst of freshness.
By the end, we were full, happy and we did not feel bogged down or tired from an unhealthy meal, which tends to be the result of eating at your typical chain restaurant. But not here at Chipotle.
Chipotle Mexican Grille Information
Location: 1924 Beacon Street, Cleveland Circle
Hours: Open 11am-10pm