Monday, July 20, 2009

The Great Burrito Face-Off

Burrito Brothers

In the world of giant burritos there is a gold standard. Regardless of your feelings on chain restaurants, you’ve got to admit that the standard by which all other burritos are judged is the McDonald’s-owned behemoth Chipotle. Thus when Burrito Brothers opened their doors in the River Market last October, they had a high standard to live up to.

Being a lover of over-sized burritos dating back to my college days (New York Burrito anyone?) I decided it was past time that I tried Burrito Brothers out, so following my weekly trip to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, I did just that.

Like most things in the River Market, Burrito Brothers doesn’t have the largest location, so they’re forced to maximize their space. In a small (maybe 20 feet by 40) location the place seemed packed with a line of 10 people and another 15 or so eating at the tables. Of course having such a prime location, the employees have their jobs down to a science. The three counter workers kept things moving swiftly as they prepared burritos, tacos, taco salads and quesadillas to order.

Quesadillas, as well as their meat offerings are what really set Burrito Brothers apart from their mega-competitor. I really appreciated the options they offer. For example, in addition to the standard beef, chicken and other options, Burrito Bros. also offers eggs, shrimp, portabellas and best of all, chorizo. Arghhhhh… Chorizo. I’m fully convinced that if there are burritos in heaven they will be stuffed with this delicious pork sausage.

With that said, I’m sure you can imagine what I opted for, a chorizo burrito. Topped with rice, beans, pico de gallo and salsa, Burrito Bros. puts cheese on their tortillas prior to steaming them, creating a melty cheesy bit in every bite. Well constructed, it was really quite good. With included, but unnecessary tortilla chips, all washed down with a Jarritos orange soda, it made for a pleasant Saturday lunch.

My lovely wife chose the carnitas burrito, and it is here that we had the best apples-to-apples comparison to Chipotle:

Menu - Burrito Bros. has many more options than their competitor. Edge: BB

Tortillas – Burrito Bros. melts cheese on theirs, rather than just throwing it in cold with the rest of the ingredients. Edge: BB

Meat – Chipotle is known for their tasty, well-seasoned meats. Burrito Bros. offers more choices, but the carnitas are not nearly as flavorful. Edge: Chipotle

Rice – Another hallmark of the Chipotle burrito, their cilantro lime rice is delicious and makes a definite impression. Burrito Brothers’ rice on the other hand was bland and tasteless. Had I not seen my burrito made, I would have forgotten it even had rice. Chipotle wins in a landslide. Edge: Chipotle

Beans – You really have to try hard to screw up beans. Edge: Push

Salsas - The pico de gallo is a nice touch at Burrito Bros. and they also offer four other salsas, a mild, medium and two hot. I had the medium (fire roasted tomato) and one of the hot (chipotle). Chipotle also has good salsas, making this one to close to call. Edge: Push

Price - Though they’ve raised their prices, you can still get a burrito at Chipotle for around $5.50. Burrito Bros. is just slightly higher at $6. Easy enough. Edge: Chipotle

Final Score: Chipotle 3 - Burrito Bros. 2

There you have it folks. Though I liked Burrito Brothers a lot, and always like to eat local when I can, in a head-to-head match up, Chipotle beats out the local challenger.

However, don’t take this the wrong way. Burrito Bros. is still damn good. If you like this style of food, you’re going to like Burrito Brothers. It is definitely worth trying out, I bet you’ll like it.

    Food: 4
    Atmosphere: 3
    Service: 4.5
    Menu: 4.75
    Price: 3.5
    Total: 19.75
    Average: 3.95

    Burrito Bros. on Urbanspoon


    m.v. said...

    I agree, burrito bros. is OK, I won't make a special trip there but if I am around and hungry I might get one. I also always order burrito bowl at chipotle, and BB doesn't have it.another minus for me.many people talk how they buy their stiff fresh at the market but the people who sell produce in that aisle are just resellers of overripe store rejected veggies and not farmers. I kinda like a new place in JoCo -La Cochinita Mexicana.

    Brian Rules the World said...

    Yeah, you've got to be careful. The center aisles are generally pretty good, with people from local farms, but around the outside is no better (and sometimes worse) than what you'd find at Hy-Vee.