Fast Times

Fast Times: Salad at Chipotle

Timing is everything, isn't it? I decided that on the day I was to begin my takeover of Fast Times, I would also begin my "peeling off the 10 damn pounds this city has provided me" project. So, where to eat, and quickly, that will do minimum damage to the 80 minute workout I put in? My answer was the Chipotle in the Medical Center. Why? Because it was there, people -- this series is called "Fast Times" for a reason.

I was relieved to discover that Chipotle has salads on its menu. Oh yeah, did I not mention that I had never been to a Chipotle before in my life? This is a fact that seems to amaze people, but I've never lived anywhere with a Chipotle until Houston. Add that to the fact that I rarely eat fast food at all, and my opportunities to try out this "fast-casual" restaurant, as it's called in Wikipedia, were limited. I'll say one thing about Chipotle--they deliver this food up fast. This was one of the quickest fast food experiences of my life. As for my salad... was better than edible.

I would rate my Chipotle salad several steps higher than edible, and certainly superior to the crappy-ass salads you get at that clown joint or the royal burger place. The chicken may not have been organic, but it was juicy and charred enough to be enjoyable on the palate.

My salad was built in front of me in a matter of about 90 seconds: green romaine lettuce, chicken, cilantro and lime rice, black beans, hot salsa, fajita-style peppers and onions, sweet corn relish, and a glob of guacamole on top. A side of dressing was provided, which I only used to dip a few bites of salad into; the dressing was somehow both tangy and bland at the same time, and I couldn't identify any single flavor beyond "vinegar." The salsa and guacamole were enough dressing for me anyway, and I am just going to keep telling myself that avocados are full of fiber and "the good fats" that are important for a post-workout muscle recovery.

Even this cilantro-shy eater wishes there was a bit more cilantro in the cilantro-and-lime rice, but the sweet corn relish -- always a favorite of mine, anyway -- was really yummy. Next time I'd probably skip the rice, go with more corn relish and maybe switch out black beans for pinto just to change things up.

I do wish there were more raw vegetable options for the salads, but this is fast-food, not a farmer's market. I'm not sure I'll be hitting Chipotle twice a week for lunch, but this is a huge development for me in terms of fast food. I'm a convert!

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Christina Uticone