Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bowie Restaurant Project: (41) Chipotle Mexican Grill

For an explanation of the Bowie Restaurant Project, look here.

For a list of all the Bowie Restaurant Project reviews, look here.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, 15500 Excelsior Dr.

Most Recent Foursquare Check-in: 01/20/2012
Total Foursquare Check-ins: 1
Pre-Foursquare Visits: No
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

This restaurant project is causing me to break all sorts of restaurant rules. Don't eat at a place that spells "grill" as "grille". Don't eat at McDonald's. Don't eat in a gas station. Another broken rule is: Don't eat at Chipotle. Years ago, Christina and I tried them a couple of times, each time waking up with a certain amount of digestive disruption. I attribute the problem to undercooked rice, but I have no idea why I'm so convinced of that.

I was intrigued by the fact that they have an iPhone/iPad app that lets you order. I was thinking of waiting until they had an Android app, but ultimately it made more sense to order on the web. I suspect one of the advantages of the app (for Chipotle) is once you have it installed, it becomes one of your go-to food ordering options.

The web-based ordering was pretty easy, allowing me to customize my order (and, for example, omit the rice). I chose my meal in taco format. Oddly, the site did not tell me how many tacos I'd get (three).

The building itself is located in a random part of the Bowie Town Center mall complex. I've complained before about parking access to restaurants there. In this case, there was parking right out front -- but it was hard to find any free. I think they clustered too many restaurants around too few parking spaces.

When I finally found parking and walked in, the line looked fairly substantial. The fact that I had ordered online, however, allowed me to jump to the front of the line. I always feel a little odd doing that, but that's what they say to do. The other advantage of on-line ordering is that I don't have to engage in a potentially error-prone back-and-forth, "Wait, did you say you wanted rice or no rice?" I was a little put off at having to wait a few minutes for my food -- the parking search had already put me past the pickup time the web site had told me. It wasn't a major inconvenience, but it's awkward to stand there waiting.

The food itself was somewhat tasty, but not exceptional. The digestive disruption was minor.

I realize my stomach's trouble with Chipotle may not be widely shared, but I don't see any reason to go there. California Tortilla is a much better quick-service Mexican option and less than half-a-mile away. If you have time to sit down, you should really use it, and go to Mi Hacienda or Monterrey. Chipotle is better than Taco Bell, and the web ordering system is nice, so two grudging stars.

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