Thursday, June 18, 2009

Freebirds - The Chipotle of Isla Vista

On a recent trip to Santa Maria, we decided to stop by Freebirds on recommendation from a bunch of online peeps. Upon entering, I noticed that it had an assembly line production much like Chipotle Mexican Grill. So much so, that it's pretty obvious where they came up with the idea.

They have 2 different size burritos in the beef, chicken or vegetarian variety. Our friend Karla is a vegetarian, so this was a bonus for her. To this, you can add Guacamole (free on the veggie; extra on the meat burritos) and a number of sauces and/or fillers (rice, beans, cilantro, etc.). I chose a regular steak burrito with beans, pico de gallo and cheese. Jean ordered a regular chicken burrito with guacamole, beans, rice and salsa. For the drink, I chose Horchata. They sprinkled cinnamon on top which was nice. Behind the register was a sign letting people know that "Last Call" for beer was 11PM and "First Call" was 8AM. I've rarely seen a "First Call" posted let alone in a fast food joint. Perhaps this is why people love this place so much.

The walls are covered with pictures of people from around the world wearing Freebirds t-shirts and bemoaning the fact that they can't get a good burrito in places like the Great Wall of China and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. My attention kept going back to these pictures as I started in on my burrito. While tasty, I simply was not blown away. The way that my friends had built it up, and clearly the folks on the wall agreed, I thought this was going to be a life altering experience. Nope. It was just a good burrito, not a great burrito. In fact, I didn't notice much of a difference in taste between a Freebirds and Chipotle burrito. If Chipotle started serving beer and put pictures of co-eds raving about their food on the walls of their restaurants, I don't think Freebirds would have the mystique that it has. Meh.

The food was fine, the price was fine, Freebirds just isn't worth raving about IMHO. So, it earns 3 out of 5 Popes.


  1. Oh, Sean. Freebirds has been around many years' longer than Chipotle. And Freebirds is open 24 hrs per day. And their beans are way better. :). I still remember my usual: regular, refried, cheese, chicken, sour cream, mas crema por favor, guac, mild sauce (green sauce). So juicy, so delicious.

  2. Julie, I meant that it's obvious where Chipotle came up with the idea. As for the quality of the ingredients, I can't justify driving all of the way to Isla Vista for something that is pretty comparable to what you get at a similar restaurant. The fact that it's open 24 hours is great if you're near campus, but not so much if you live in Lake View Terrace. :)