Freebirds World Burrito
1509 Hawthorne Blvd
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
Freebirds World Burrito is a growing chain of restaurants similar in style to Chipotle. According to the Freebirds website: “It all started in ’87 near the beach in Santa Barbara, California when two ex-hippies figured out how to roll some awesome burritos using fresh-chopped veggies, house-made rice and beans, and of course grass fed beef and all natural chicken.” It is hard to tell how many locations Freebirds has but they seem to be mostly focused in California and Texas. Like Chipotle, you enter a cue and order your burrito as you walk along an assembly line. After paying for your food, you select a seat from the various tables and bar stool options. Decor is funky chic with a menagerie of aluminum foil creations lining the walls.
CARL: That’s a hell of a burrito……and I didn’t even order the big burritos… Let me back up a bit. When I entered Freebirds World Burrito I was surprised at how much it reminded me of Chipotle. I’m sure that statement will make the Freebirds’ corporate guys cringe – but the comparison is inescapable. From the moment you walk in and make your way through the assembly line the similarities are apparent. It is important to note that there are many differences so perhaps that’s a good way to describe Freebirds – so let’s do that. For starters, you have your choice of tortilla flavor: flour, wheat, cayenne and spinach. Chipotle you have just the basic flour. Freebirds lets you choose a couple types of rice (Spanish or Cilantro) and you get to choose from a wide variety of sauces including lime juice, salsa, Bad Ass BBQ, mild tomatillo, hot tomatillo, death sauce, habanero, buttermilk ranch, ancho dressing or herb vinaigrette. Most significantly, you get to select the SIZE of your burrito (steak prices quoted here): Hybird ($5.99), Freebird ($6.98), Monster ($8.49), and Super Monster ($13.79). I opted for the Freebird steak burrito, flour tortilla, Spanish rice, no special sauces – just cheese and a mild salsa blend.
On the way to the checkout there is a large chalkboard that explains how to eat the Freebird burrito. Seems it is so large that it takes some strategy to pull off a proper ingestion. The chalkboard shows that it is best to keep your burrito tightly wrapped and peel off a couple of inches at a time and work your way down. I tried this strategy and it was effective but did add some hassle to make sure you weren’t biting into the foil. On the positive side, I spilled very little of the burrito contents using this method.
The flavor was just the way I like it (it should be as I picked the ingredients). I like the surf/rock vibe of the place and I liked the music being pumped over the sound system. The staff were very friendly and helpful in the making of the burrito and they checked in on us during the meal. Is it really like Chipotle? Yes. Yes it is. Would I pick one over the other? Possibly. If there were a Chipotle and a Freebirds right next to each other, on any given day I might choose one over the other. Bottom line is Freebirds makes a nice burrito. Four pigs!
OLIVER: I live close by to Freebirds and have wanted to check it out for a while, I am not a fan of places that require you to know what comes in any typical entrée. There are a few places where this is the type of menu option you have. You are hearded down a cattle feed line peering into a trough selecting the bits and pieces that will eventually make up your meal. I really don’t like the stress of picking out my own ingredients. I don’t cook and really don’t have the time to come up with what is the perfect burrito. It comes down to my neurotic desire for perfection. When you come in, you have before you at least 30 different materials to choose from. If you have no idea how a burrito is made or what a burrito even is, then you are in big trouble. You have 30 opportunities to ruin a burrito. I like to think that whatever I am eating is the best attempt there is at burrito making. I want to hire a solution, not piece meal my meal together with best guesses as to what is the best possible choice for my burrito, and I especially don’t want to think that I know more than the cook about how a burrito is supposed to come together. Just give me the best burrito you got. So comes the problem. What is the best? Is everyones best the best for everyone? Probably not. There is no accounting for taste. What works for me does not work for everyone else, and once you find something that everyone loves, some hipster is going to turn his nose up at it. I’m that hipster, I’m the mal-content.
In the end I made it through the assembly line of burrito fixin’s. I sat down with my gigantic bowl of burrito. I got my coke, err pepsi and sat down to chow down. I got a steak bowl with mostly spicy add ons. You can get your burrito in a variety of sizes and I chose the 2nd largest one. You do get to make it how you want it using extras that you will never see used. How was it? It was great, it was filling. I felt totally stuffed. The food was very good, the meat was good, everything was top notch. I have to say that in the end, I had a great meal. Even the trip down the cattle line was not so bad, I told the server that I wanted mostly a spicy burrito and she gave me tips as to what to get, and it tasted great. This is probably the best burrito I have ever had. What does that say about my rant on building your own food? Change is good, don’t be afraid to take chances.
I have to give the them four and a half pigs, the place was a lot of fun, you can even make aluminum foil art and leave behind as so many others have, and they even proved me wrong on the build your own concept.