Chipotle Mexican Grill

Not all fast food is bad for you and the environment

In case you haven't heard, there's a new Chipotle opening in Nashua on Amherst Street. Haven't been to a Chipotle yet? Then stand in line. Literally. When you walk through the door you will see it. An open kitchen operating as an assembly line where people wait to have their food custom made before their eyes. This national fast-food chain has developed a cult following over the years for its inexpensive fresh fare. I am one of those cult followers.

Chipotle has an easy menu with easy choices. There are four main dishes you can order: a (huge) burrito, a burrito bowl, tacos or a salad. Those are the vehicles that carry your food. Now choose one of five ingredients: grilled chicken, steak, Barbacoa (shredded braised beef with hints of cloves, cumin and oregano), Carnitas (naturally raised pork braised in juniper berries, bay and thyme) or Vegetarian.

Now move down the line. Would you like salsa on top? Choose one or all of their fresh salsas: mild tomato, roasted chili-corn, tomatillo-green chili or hot tomatillo-red chili. Hand-mashed guacamole? Some cilantro-lime rice? Beans? Sour cream? Some shredded crisp romaine lettuce? Perhaps a shower of grated jack and white cheddar cheese?

That's it. Their food is surprisingly pure and simple. My vehicle of choice: Burrito Bowl with half Barbacoa and half grilled steak over salad with everything else on top including their honey vinaigrette dressing to toss everything with.

If you want to see how many calories are in the different combinations, just visit and use their calculator. Tip: Skip the chips and dressing to save 400 calories.

There's another big difference between Mexican food found in most restaurants and the eco-friendly food found at Chipotle: their philosophy. When possible they source organic local ingredients from family farmers practicing sustainable farming. The pork, chicken and beef they use are not from factory farms but are raised humanely by ranchers who feed their animals a vegetarian diet devoid of antibiotics and hormone enhancers. All sour cream and cheeses are made from milk that is rBGH-free. I really like that.

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