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I love Ranch 1. I wrote about it a few weeks ago, and while I know not everyone is on board- I stand behind what I originally said. If you are looking for a grilled chicken sandwich, that tastes like real chicken, and french fries that taste like they are made from real potatoes (plus you don’t mind a chicken breast that has been pounded thin before being grilled) then Ranch 1 is your place. It’s one of the few fast food places my wife actually likes (loves is a more appropriate word)- and any place she’s into, where I can “get fries with that”, is alright with me! (Click here to read the original Ranch 1 post)
So, you can imagine my confusion when I started seeing these new Chicken Bar’s popping up. The first one, I saw on 8th Ave. and 45th St…. and then another on 52nd and Lexington. Same colors… similar logo… it’s chicken. Very strange. I couldn’t believe that this new chain was clearly ripping off Ranch 1. Did they really think that their chicken sandwich was going to be that much better to support 2 chicken chains like this in the city??? I decided a visit was in order, and last week I headed to this “Chicken Bar” with every intention of pitting it against Ranch1 in a “one on one” fast food chicken battle of death. (I would have liked to have made it a 3 man battle royale, but sadly there is no Chick Fil-A in Midtown…)
Arriving at the Chicken Bar on Lexington & 52nd, I was reminded again of how similar the logos are to each other. Both have got the yellow, red and white thing going… but the Chicken Bar sign is clearly newer- and a bit nicer. I like the abstract, “hidden” chicken head in the Ranch1 logo, over the obvious big chicken in the Chicken Bar logo, but a vinyl awning can’t touch the class of a 3-D neon style sign. Chicken Bar 1, Ranch1 Zero.
Both places have “employees” giving out $1 off coupons around the corner from their respective restaurants. I think it’s pretty obvious who wins this one. No offense to the lady on the right… I’m sure she cleans up real nice- but she is clearly not a gigantic yellow chicken. Ranch 1 ties it up… One to One.
The truth is, who cares about the coupons, and the signs and the big yellow chicken (well, actually- I care about the chicken so that’s a bad example). The food is the most important. What I ordered, and conclusion of the fierce battle that will literally cause your brain to explode in disbelief…. after the jump.
It’s been a few months since I last ate at Chipotle, and the craving for a burrito is back in full force. “I could really use a burrito. I’m sure Chipotle is not as bad as I remember it! Look at the gigantic lines! Everybody loves Chipotle… i’m sure it will be delicious!” Luckily my original post serves as a reminder of how I feel (“Free Chipotle is the only good Chipotle“), and I decided instead to hit up Burritoville with a friend from work.
I tried Burritoville once before (the one on 9th ave.), when I first moved here from L.A. Seeking a substitute for the burritos I could get on the west coast, I knew I wasn’t going to replace the real deal authentic burritos- but I was at least hoping to find a replacement for Baja Fresh (My go-to work lunch in L.A. There was one across the street from my office, and I probably ate there 2-3 times a week).
At the one on 9th ave. I got the “Holy Mole” burrito, and was pretty underwhelmed. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I probably should have known that I wasn’t going to get a great mole from a place that felt the need to add funny names to their burritos. I remember thinking “This place isn’t that bad. I probably am disappointed because I just moved here, and I’m used to the good stuff.”
With that in mind, I returned to Burritoville- hoping to find a Chipotle substitute for when my Burrito addiction rears it’s ugly head. Pictures, and the +/- after the jump…
Everyone's prayers have been answered… but mine. They started construction on a new Chipotle right in my building (49th between 6th & 7th), and the office is abuzz. After all, burritos could possibly be the perfect lunch food. A self contained, all inclusive pocket of goodness, that you can eat with your hands… no side dishes necessary (except for some chips to handle the overflow).
Everyone seems pretty excited about the prospect of burritos being just an elevator ride away- but I can't fall into that trap. For me, Chipotle is like a bad Chinese Buffet. I have to go back once every three months, and feel sick, to remind myself why I only go once every three months. See, I distinctly remember what my brain told me the last time I ate Chiptole… "Never eat here again". But that was three months ago, and my burrito starved body is wondering, "Maybe this time it will be different…everyone seems pretty excited… maybe I was wrong about Chipotle."
And of course three months ago was actually a relapse of it's own. A few months before that, I had just moved here from Los Angeles, and tried Chiptole for the first time. My thought… "Never eat here again…" That lasted about two months. Why can't they make a decent burrito in this city!
I'm not saying Chiptole is a terrible burrito… but compared to the Burritos in L.A., they definetely fall short (no one would dispute that). But I'm not even talking about the authentic Burrito shacks… I'm talking about the chains too. Now if a Baja Fresh or Sharky's opened at the bottom of my building, then you'd see some excitement. But alas, there is no Baja Fresh, and we'll just have to settle for Chipotle.
The +/- after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »