I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find the new East Colfax Tattered Cover location complete with a “Coming Soon… Chipotle” sign.
America’s new Starbucks is shrouded in foil. I’ll take the Mermaid any day, my friend, any day…
Even with the infinite word counts offered by The Internets, there’s still not enough space to catalogue my contempt for this, our absurdly overrated homegrown chain.
Let’s not dance around what I hope is a more nuanced analysis than what follows, but I gotta just spit it: I. Hate. Chipotle. I hate the food, I hate the branding, and I hate what it represents, both for Denver and the greater American palate.
But… but… I’m hoping beyond hope that all is not lost in the greater burrito landscape.
I realize, of course, that hating on Chipotle is not as contrarian as I’m making it out to be. I’m quite certain I’m not alone on this. And yet, the chain has a bizarre following of fan websites.
And let’s not forget the embarrassing gushfest Westword published two years ago that, quite frankly, could’ve been penned by the company’s PR staff.
Let me rattle off a few of the reasons I can’t stand the place: Their beans taste like ass; I’ve had matzo with more moisture than their tortillas; they even fuck up the rice. The rice! It’s always dry and lackluster, even with that lime cilantro non-action.
If you’re a vegetarian, there’s a pepper & onion combination and that’s IT. Forever.
If you’ve ever been to any of the tacquerias in San Fran’s Mission district it’s easy to understand how far off the mark Chipotle is in the greater burrito milieu. It’s like when you peel back the foil and bite in you taste less the rice or the meat than the branding team’s brow sweat.
My larger point here is the specter of specialized, semi-upscale chains of the Chipotle, Noodles – yeah, that place sucks too — genre and what they’re doing to our cuisine. Or for that matter, the sitdown chain restaurants, which aren’t even close to a bargain.
Every income bracket, almost every ethnic niche now has a chain component. Sometimes two or three. The bougie bakery, Panera? Steakhouses? Take. Your. Pick. Italian? There’s dumb and dumber. Don’t get me started on P.F. Chang’s.
I’m just waiting for Thai and Indian food to get an Applebee’s of their own and then, what’s left? Ethiopian?
It’ll happen, oh, it will. All these places are growing, pitting the greater American yearning for predictability against the risktaking inherent in the unknown. The restaurant business is cutthroat under the best of circumstances, but the chains are in the process of making the job of a midlevel indy restauratuer that much harder. Just like the larger world of retail, food is getting cleaved into a disturbing high end v. low end continuum that mirrors the income trends across the country. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but it’s still depressing.
For a really interesting overview of this phenomenon, listen to Chowhound.com founder Jim Leff on Radio Open Source, an excellent NPR show out of Boston.
But back to Chipotle, since it’s, like, local. Let me make one thing clear; Being better than Taco Bell is not a virtue. That’s like getting honorable mention at a grade school field day and bragging about it past the age of 15.