Saturday, May 1, 2010

Chipotle-ing Along

We passed the IHOP on PCH every morning on our way to the gym. Until we passed big yellow bulldozers, pulling it down. Soon enough an entirely new restaurant appeared - Chipotle Mexican Grill ( "We must try it," we said and motored stately on. To the gym.

Yesterday, since the "Buy One, Get One Free" coupon expired on 4/30/10, we went. It's a sparkling interior with bleached-blonde wood seating and aluminum siding surrounding a spacious room. Very inviting looking. It's self-serve -- order your food, watch them put it together assembly-line style, pay for it and take your tray to a seat and eat.

Chipotle proclaims "Food With Integrity!" which means farm or ranch-raised with no antibiotic or growth hormone-fed plants or animals.

Their menu is simplicity itself - choice of soft or crisp taco shell; burrito in a tortilla or in a bowl made with chicken or steak or pork or barbacoa (beef) or vegetarian. They make a slad with a choice of beans (Mexican or black,) romaine lettuce, meat choice, salsa and cheese with a chipotle-honey vinaigrette.

To say they are painstaking in spelling out exactly what is going into your mouth is understatement. Fresh Tomato Salsa is categorized as "mild" and has 20 calories! There are three other salsa ranging from medium, medium hot and hot with calorie counts of 80, 15, and 40 respectively.

Richie had a chicken burrito "Hold the sour cream please" for a total of 750 calories. It was $5.70 and good-sized. I had thee crisp-shelled barbacoa tacos for $5.95 and 520 calories. Our tab (no tea, soft drinks or beer) was $11.65 before taxes (if any.)

What they're long on is salt. The chicken burrito? 1,940 mgs. My barbacoa? 520. What I want to know is: how the hell can romaine lettuce in a salad have 2 mgs. of salt? Lettuce has salt?

One the other hand, no matter what you eat there (and it's all listed) there is 0 (zero) trans fat. Barbacoa has 2.5 grams saturated fat; a chicken burrito has 12.5! Since "Chicken is better for you than beef!" had been drummed into me for 20 years or more, I am a loss to understand this...

But I'm no dietician, so I leave all the math to them.

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