Although new to the Grand Strand, Chipotle already had a legion of local fans.
With locations throughout the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, many folks have had the Chipotle Experience ... a unique dining experience fundamentally different than you would get with traditional fast food, and they loved it.
Among them is Luke Rankin, who discovered the restaurant on family trips to Columbia.
I like the environment, the friendly staff and the commitment to quality, he said. His dining companions, Eva Vandoros and Hope Null, concurred. They all appreciate the chains commitment to healthy, fresh and clean eating with a focus on locally sourced, hormone free and non-gmo ingredients.
You can learn about Chipotles philosophy on animals, people and the environment, which they encapsulate under the statement Food With Integrity, by visiting their website.
Now, lets talk about the experience I do not want to stereotype, but one tends to associate Mexican eateries with bold, festive colors, and this space is the polar opposite. It is nearly achromatic black, charcoal, chrome against light wood with a few pops of color think Danish minimalist or upscale, modernistic cafeteria. Some diners will like the edgy, urban feel others will likely find it sterile and lacking in personality.
As for the cuisine, the choices are basic burritos, bowls, tacos or salads. From there, you can go veggie or choose your protein(s): chicken, steak, carnitas (braised pork) or barbacoa (braised beef). At this location, tofu is not currently an option.
I went with a burrito with chicken, brown rice, both black and pinto beans, mild tomato salsa and cheese. I knew there would be leftovers so I skipped the sour cream and lettuce, which do not enjoy being reheated.
I accompanied this with chips, a salsa assortment, sour cream and guacamole. I liked all of the salsas and the guacamole was good. The chips, however, were disappointing: not warm and not particularly fresh tasting. The staff indicated that they are fried twice a day, but leaving them off heat seems to diminish their crunch and flavor.
Although the burrito was a gracious plenty and tasty, I was curious to see how the ingredients tasted independently. So, I ordered sides of the main ingredients.
The fajita veggies were crisp, the chicken was tender and flavorful, the barbacoa tasted like elevated pot roast delish, the steak was a little chewy and the seasoning of the carnitas overwhelmed the flavor of the pork, but the texture was good.
The cilantro lime rices, brown and white, were nice and either would make a wonderful cold salad with the fresh tomato and roasted chili corn salsas. I could have made a meal of just the beans and rice.
Said beans, served whole, were both well seasoned and complimented the proteins especially the pintos which had a hint of sweetness.
I dined with my friend, Joe Bushardt, who remarked that his three-taco lunch plate was a refreshing alternative to typical food quick dining fare. The corn shells were crisp and a nice vehicle for his choices of chicken, steak and carnitas. The chicken was his hands down favorite.
Chipotle has confidence in the quality of its ingredients, and rightly so, and lets them shine without a whole lot of fuss giving diners a clean tasting, fresh dining alternative.
Gavin DeGraw changes it up a bit
Gavin DeGraw released his fifth studio album last Tuesday. Each song on Make a Move was co-written by DeGraw. Thats a departure from the previous four albums which featured only one tune co-written (Not Over You) and one cover (Indian Summer).
Youll find less piano and more percussion on this album which has a more commercial pop feel than his others. Be sure to listen to the title track, Whos Gonna Save Us, and Need.
Amanda Blomquist, firstname.lastname@example.org