Hey, hey, happy February! ‘Tis the Valentine season, and cupid’s quiver is full of posts on…. Paris! I’ll be sharing all sorts of adventures, tips, and tricks for visiting the city of love with kids (oh, how romantic!) in the next few weeks.
Other gals may go for diamonds, truffles, or expensive perfume and whatnot. But, me? I’m much easier to please. A three-pound burrito wrapped in shiny tinfoil should do it.
Chipotle… in Europe?
While we were in the magical city of Paris, we savored our first taste of Chipotle in nearly eight months. It was the lovely Maria of Busy as a Bee in Paris who first gave the heads up that the burrito king was in town.
Not long after, my friend Christy in Estonia (hi, Christy!) broke some even bigger news to me… Chipotle had recently set up shop in Frankfurt! We needed to renew T-Rex’s passport in early January, and naturally we’d all be absolutely starving and in search of lunch after the morning appointment…
Chipotle… in Europe? I must be dreaming. But, I’m not.. they have SIX locations in London too!
So… How’s it Taste?
This is the real question, isn’t it? If you slap a Chipotle sign on a mediocre Mexican joint, really, what’s the point? The authenticity of ingredients and flavors is what’s important.
In short, both the Paris and Frankfurt locations dished up burritos and salads that tasted very close to American Chipotle cuisine. However, we noticed a few slight differences.
- Serves lemon-cilantro rice, not lime, that is extremely cheap in the worst way (think Uncle Ben’s, not basmati).
- Beans are not as savory, especially the black ones.
- Marinade on the chicken wasn’t as flavorful.
- Salad dressing packs a punch – it’s much spicier than at home – and is noticeably creamier.
- Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa tastes even better than in America with a delicious, gentle heat.
- Rice was also lemon instead of lime, but of better quality.
- Salad dressing was extremely close to the original, but it had a subtle difference we couldn’t place. Another taste test is on order..
- Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa is full of flame; our mouths were on fire!
In both the French and German locations, the portions were petty. However, the staff acquiesced each time I begged for “a little more” of each ingredient.
Not much is physically different in the Paris and Frankfurt locations. Both interiors are all done up in the same wood and stainless theme. The brown paper packaging, logo napkins, clear plastic cutlery, Tabasco sauce bottles… it’s all there. Even the water dispenser looks identical.
(Oh, and the water is free. Some restaurants in Germany will serve you complimentary tap water but not cheerfully.)
The biggest difference between the American Chipotle and the French and German Chipotle restaurants is the price.
Both European locations charge 9 euros per entree (burrito, tacos, salad, bowl) with your choice of one meat (chicken, steak, barbacoa, etc). All the toppings are included except guacamole which comes with an additional 3 euro charge. Yikes.
Currently, a Chipotle chicken burrito in our old Orlando location costs $6.25 (steak, carnitas, or barbacoa will set you back $6.65). If you were to convert the 9 euro German burrito price tag to dollars, you’d be looking at $12.15 per burrito… or almost double! If you want guac with that, be prepared to fork over $16.20!
That’s some serious cash for a beans & rice fix. You might be wondering… why are the entrees so expensive?
The simple answer: ingredients. To make Chipotle’s marinades, salsas, dressings, and other delicious menu items, you need foreign ingredients like chipotle peppers, tomatillos, cilantro, adobo, jalapeños, poblano peppers, and chiles de arbol. These are usually Mexican or American products which means that they need to cross an ocean.
Unfortunately, the European palate doesn’t seem to be suited for frijoles which means that the demand isn’t high enough to produce these kinds of ingredients within the EU (perhaps climate is an issue as well) which would help reduce costs considerably.
Now, I can’t say I’ve ever asked for “everything” on my burrito back in America, but both the French and German Chipotle locations allowed us to order every single topping (except guacamole – see above) without charging extra. I seem to recall that the fajita vegetables were instead of beans and that one may order cheese or sour cream. At the European restaurants, you can have it all!
At least there’s a small consolation when it comes to order budget (and waist-line) busting burritos…
Frankfurt is our closest Chipotle location, but it’s still two and a half hours away. When we add the price of fuel to cost of a burrito, it ends up being too expensive and time-consuming to be worthwhile.
In Paris, I was shocked when I realized that 9 euros for a quick dinner was average, so there’s a good chance we’d be regulars if we lived there.
For now, we’re happily obsessed with our town’s taco truck. But, that’s not to say we wouldn’t indulge if we happened to be in Frankfurt… and I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t jump at the chance to try a British branch of Chipotle!
Any Londoners out there want to host a family of five for the weekend? Burritos are on us!
Have you tried Chipotle in Europe? If not, would you pay 9 euros for a burrito with authentic Mexican ingredients?