Over the weekend, my husband and I ate at Freebirds, which was probably the first time I had done so in about a year. The trip got me thinking about a subject that I have discussed with many of my friends—which is better, Chipotle or Freebirds? While this is obviously a matter of opinion, I have done some serious thinking about it, and I have my answer. But before I get to my opinion, let me give you a little background on the extensive research I’ve done on this subject…
Me and Freebirds go way back. I first sampled their burritos back in 1996 when I was a senior in High School. I went down to College Station to visit a friend of mine who was a Freshman at Texas A&M, even though I already knew that I was Longhorn bound the next year. I figured it didn’t hurt to see where the enemy sleeps.
I wasn’t particularly impressed with College Station, but when it came to Freebirds, it was love at first sight. This whole build-your-own-burrito concept was completely new to me, but I knew immediately that I was totally into it. I am kind of picky, so being able to get something exactly the way I want it—and without the annoying, “I want the cheeseburger, but can you please make it with cheddar instead of American cheese and hold the tomatoes and mayo, please”—was (and still is) very appealing.
In 1999, when I was a Junior at UT Austin, Freebirds opened their first Austin outpost just a few blocks from my house. I was completely psyched. It became my Sunday hangover fix. Over the next two years I perfected my formula, and I still get exactly the same thing when I visit now. Freebirds Burrito with a spinach tortilla, steak, refried beans, Monterrey jack cheese, sour cream, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and BBQ sauce. Heaven.
My love affair with Freebirds continued until I graduated from UT in 2001 and moved back to Dallas, which at the time was Freebirds-less. What Dallas did have, however, was Chipotle, and by that time, I was a burrito addict who needed her fix any way she could get it.
Oh, Chipotle. Like most great love affairs, although we hit it off right off the bat, it took a little work to get our chemistry just right. But once I worked up my standard formula (burrito with chicken or barbacoa with rice, fajita peppers and onions, medium salsa, extra corn salsa, sour cream, a little cheese and guacamole), I never looked back. And as those of you who have read our blog for awhile know, I consider Chipotle to be among the best restaurants in Dallas.
Freebirds, on the other hand, was just a distant memory for me until 2004, when they opened one in Addison, right down the street from where I was living at the time. I was excited, but it still took me a couple of weeks to get there when it opened. When I did finally go, the smell hit me as soon as I walked in the door—so familiar and so entrenched in my brain. Visions of my days in Austin started swimming through my head. I ordered my standard formula and sat down to enjoy. Of course, the burrito was delicious and certainly held a lot of nostalgia for me (as well as refried beans and BBQ sauce).
So, the question still remains...which is better, Freebirds or Chipotle? Frankly, as much as I love Freebirds, Chipotle is the clear winner for me. Better quality, better ingredients, better selection, and better presentation. Not to mention, the guacamole at Chipotle can stand up to any in Dallas, in my humble opinion. And I’m pretty sure the corn salsa contains crack cocaine or crystal meth or something else that is highly, highly addictive.
What do you think? Anyone out there want to defend Freebirds' honor?