According to Wikipedia (today’s definer of choice!) a pilgrimage is…
…a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith…many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their “calling” or spiritual awakening, or of their connection…with the divine, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be “housed,” or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit.
Or, to eating a fucking burrito.
With religious fervor in our hearts (I don’t drop the F-bomb in posts very often, so that’s how you know it’s special), we made our way to the original (Evans Avenue) Chipotle in Denver. Chipotle was my Mexican gateway food, convincing me that I do, in fact, like guacamole, and that I could venture into scarier Mexican foods like pozole and (street) tacos (though I’m still not up to eating menudo or tougue tacos…but I also can’t rule out that I’ll get there, at some point).
I BELIEVE in burrito bowls. I believe in them.
I also just really like Chipotle’s story. This is a fast food chain with sustainability at the forefront, a chain that serves only organic and/or local produce, only synthetic-hormone-free dairy, and only naturally-raised meat. And it’s cheap(ish), fast, everywhere. And it’s DELICIOUS.
The original Evans Avenue Chipotle is filled with cell-phone-picture-snapping devotees and fellow pilgrims. License plates in the six-car parking lot hail from across the country (if you visit…park down the street). There is no posted menu. You know what you want. The line doesn’t work the same way it does in other Chipotles, but if you’re used to shouting your order over twenty other people, it won’t bother you that you need to shout across the entire restaurant to get white or brown rice. Chipotle order-shouting bothered me at first, but maybe I have Chipotle to thank for helping me develop my voice; it first demanded me to vocally declare my desire for fajita veggies over the clamor of other orderers years ago.
When we decided to move to Ithaca, I searched on a whim for a Chipotle, knowing there hadn’t been one there last year. And I found that one just opened downtown, April-ish. Meant to be?
Last week, we were driving across Kansas (we’ll get to that) and Paul was clicking away on his phone. Suddenly, he grinned.
“Guess what just opened in London?” he asked.
Me, feeling cross, “I don’t know, a Hooters?”
“Nope, a Chipotle,” Paul replied.
So you know that we’ll be checking in, seeing how the international experience matches up with the domestic. More to come. Always more to come.
But in the case of Chipotle, more comes only once a week. That sodium content’s a bitch.
Note from Paul: While Chipotle is definitely our most-visited Mexican restaurant, I think true conversion honors have to go to Viva Taqueria in Ithaca, NY. I still remember Lisa telling me she didn’t like Mexican food before taking her here. Viva was like a gateway drug to Lisa’s Chipotle addiction.