South of the Secaucus
Chipolte founder and CEO Steve Ells opened the first restaurant in 1993 in Denver after working at San Francisco's Stars restaurant. Ells loved eating at local Mexican places, yet thought he could thought he could improve upon the quality. The premise is simple. They only use fresh ingredients and all preparation is done on the premises. By serving only select items, they can focus on perfecting the taste.
According to Phil Petrillo, who oversees operations from New York to Washington, D.C., they can serve upwards of 350 people an hour.
"The difference between the quick service restaurant and Chipolte is that we cook all day long," said Petrillo. "People connect with how fresh it is."
Using fresh herbs, spices, and fresh produce like juicy red tomatoes and creamy Haas avocados, diners can get the authentic tastes and smells of Mexican cuisine. "When you taste the burrito, you'll be able to taste the ingredients," said Petrillo.
Two items, thousands of ways
First-time customers only have to look at the back of the menu for instructions on ordering. Customers are told to pick their style including: the burrito, tacos, salad or the "bol" variety, which is the burrito sans the tortilla. Then they can watch as the food is prepared right in front of them. For the burrito, the tortilla is placed flat and stuffed with cilantro-flavored rice, beans (vegetarian or bacon flavored), the choice of meat (grilled chicken, steak, pork, shredded beef or vegetarian-style), and topped with salsa (roasted chili corn, green chili, red chili, or fresh tomato). "It's a whole meal in and of itself," said Petrillo.
Since you are building the perfect burrito you can request what or how much you want. No request for extra sour cream or salsa is considered unreasonable.
My first Chipolte experience lived up to their claim. It truly is a fabulously fresh, tasty burrito reasonably priced. Those with smaller appetites will not be able to finish the large stuffed tortilla. It even holds up to a reheating.
Simple ingredients, simple design
The chicken, steak, and pork are from small farms and are raised free of anti-biotic and hormones, which results in a fresher taste. All of the fillings are visually appealing and further stimulate the appetite including: fluffy, white rice with cilantro, diced red tomatoes, bright yellow corn, and black beans.
Another of Ells' principles is clean lines in the restaurant to compliment the food. No two Chipolte's are alike; each is designed to fit the space. The Secaucus branch doesn't disappoint with light wood tables and contrasting shades of cream and red. Elegant, silver lights drop down from the ceiling illuminating the room with a comfortable glow.
The inside restaurant seats 70 pp and there is outside seating for twelve. Lunch orders may be faxed in for pick-up. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Chipolte Mexican Grill is located at the Plaza at Harmon Meadows in Secaucus. Phone: (201) 223-0562, fax: (201) 223-0578 or visit: www.chipolte.com.