Just turn your head, and odds are you'll find a chain place serving up mission-style burritos. We've all consumed these inexpensive, oversize, foil-wrapped, handheld eats. Today's battle is between Chipotle Mexican Grill and Freebird's World Burrito.
Freebird's World Burrito
First, has Freebird's always been called Freebird's World Burrito? I have no idea, and I'm not sure why they even chose that name--there's absolutely nothing worldly about this burrito. Unless, by worldly, you mean bland and boring. Okay, that might be a little harsh, but there's really nothing about it that's at all interesting.
I ordered the smallest size and tailored it to my specifications, including refried beans, rice, beef steak, and barbecue sauce. Laugh all you want, but the first time I ordered one of these things in college, a friend instructed me to go with the barbecue sauce. It's all I know. The sauce surprisingly works with the rest of the ingredients, and is the least of this burrito's problems. The tortilla serves it purpose, but the rice was tasteless and the beef was chewy. I will say, the portion was plentiful and the ingredients were balanced.
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle's stumpy beef steak burrito was really more about the rice, rather than the meat. Sniff, shiff--do you smell it? That's cheapness in the air. Although, as it turned out, the rice-to-beef ratio was a good thing. The white rice with fresh cilantro was tasty, while the meat was chewy and rather poorly seasoned.
What I did enjoy were the pinto beans. At Chipotle, you have a choice between pinto or black beans. Sorry, refried beans--not in this house. Again, the tortilla served its purpose. This comes as no surprise. I'm sure these things have been engineered back at the Chipotle World Headquarter's lab to secure up to ten pounds of fixings. I went with a generic salsa, which provided a nice little spice.
Chipotle Mexican Grill. Neither was terrible, and neither was great. These restaurants have their place, providing a mild version of an Americanized burrito to customers on-the-go or in need of solid hangover food. Both burritos were around $6, so given the amount of food, it was a good deal. On this day, the cilantro rice allowed Chipotle to edge out the competition.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.