Wednesday, June 02, 2010

[Rant] Fresh Mex

Fresh Mex: I'm sure many of you have been very anxious to learn how I feel about Fresh Mex-style fast food. Well, you can relax now. I'm about to tell you.

In the greater Ann Arbor area we have three fresh mex chains available: Chipotle, Qdoba, and Moe's. Each has its distinct advantage so here's a quick guide.

The best standard burritos come from Chipotle. Their meats just seem fresher and juicier, they offer the traditional beans or fajita style, and their salsa verde is a cut above. They also have the simplest menu, so the folks behind the counter rarely get confused and ham-fist your order. The meal of choice for me is a carnitas (pork) burrito, fajita style.

Qdoba extends the choices a little. Specifically, they have grilled veggie burritos which is cool because even people who eat burritos for every meal need their vegetables. A downside is the salsa verde is not as good as Chipotle and they charge extra for forgoing beans and getting it fajita style. On the other hand, they provide something called Mexican Gumbo, which is a burrito minus the tortilla, in a bowl, covered with some awesome tangy tomato broth. It is a steaming pile of awesome.

Moe's has, I think, the lowest quality of food (although it's not bad). But they have the broadest selection of ingredients, including tofu and fish. And you can get fish tacos. They aren't terribly good. The food carts vendors in and around San Diego would wretch at the sight of them. But they are actual fish tacos, which are required eating occasionally and tough to find cheap-and-easy around these parts. Moe's also has a salsa bar for those who like to load up, but again, the salsa doesn't seem that special to me. One bonus is that you get free corn chips so if you're in the mood for bulk over quality, this is the place.

I know there are folks peppered all over the southwest, sneering at this while scarfing down their favorite taqueria fare. Fair enough. Here in mid-Michigan, you get what you get.