Freebirds: My new food discovery

How have I never heard of this place? It’s apparently a chain.

What is Freebirds?

Take Chipotle and mix it with the decor sensibility of Harley Davidson. Now, throw out the branded McDonalds food and replace it with really great tasting stuff. What you have is a paradise of flavor and my new love. The burritos come various sizes with cute names like: hybrid, freebird, monster and a burrito that could easily fee four grown Activision QA testers, the Super Monster.


I have to disagree. Freebirds is dry and tasteless. The only people I know who prefer it to Chipotle’s are Aggies since Freebirds started in College Station I believe. Just checked, CS Freebird’s was their second one. It does have great queso though.

Depends on how far back you want to go. The original Freebirds started near UC Santa Barbara. It was sold to a company that wanted to turn it into a franchise and they took it to Texas to open the first of their franchise stores. They are just starting to make their way back to California I hear.

I went to UCSB and went to Freebirds from time to time, but preferred the other burrito places in town. I can’t really speak to the current incarnation, though, as I haven’t been to any of the ones since they started revising the restaurant for franchisability.

Put me in the “Chipotle is vastly superior” camp. Freebirds is a big deal around here, so I had been hearing about it for a while before I first went. Not only did I not love my first meal there, I thought it was outright bad. That was in part my own fault, since you have the freedom to combine ingredients to make something truly horrid if you’re not careful. Subsequent trips have been far better, but I still find it to be inferior to Chipotle while being more expensive. And the McDonald’s thing is unfair.

I used to go to Freebirds all the time when I lived in Isla Vista back in the early 90’s and I was sorely disapointed when I finally got around to trying the new Freebirds here in town last weekend. I also found it very dry and just not “Freebirds-y” enough. I think part of my disappointment actually came from making my own burrito - I just wanted them to whip up the burrito I used to know and love and slap it on a plate for me.

Sad, sad day to find out I no longer loved them…

(…and I find Chipotle to be a vastly superior experience as well)

Freebirds was a favorite of the locals at the office I used to manage in Austin. I’ve been there more times than I’d like, and never liked it. I found their food very bland and not very flavorful. When I have to rely on salsa for the majority of flavor, something’s wrong. At least it’s not Chuy’s though, man, I really dislike Tex-Mex food.

Thanks for that info, JPR. My last trip to Chipotle I enjoyed the food. Would go again.

I’m surprised to be in the minority. My experience at several Chipotles have been pretty bad. Fajita veggies are mostly onions very few peppers. They fill the burrito with rice. If you ask for no rice they give you a look and a burrito half the size. Maybe I’m biased as my Freebirds is brand new.

I haven’t had any salsas on the items I’ve tried, shredded pork burrito and steak nachos. So I can’t say they the rely on them. Did try their BBQ sauce which I thought was pretty good on the pork.

I haven’t been to them enough to notice a very substantial difference, but i find the environment of the new Freebirds nearby to be annoying to distraction. Maybe i’m just entering my dottage but, seriously, turn that shit down. Tile and metal, and no carpet, and a lot of generic FM music. I think i liked the rice better at Chipotle.

Chuy’s is mass produced Tex Mex. I agree though that Chuy’s isn’t half as good as it’s reported to be. OTOH, they just opened a Rosa’s in Round Rock.

No disrespect intended, but these places are big on portion control. If you say no rice, they aren’t about to make that up with the other ingredients. Having said that, I understand what you meant.

The rice is one of the highlights at Chipotle, so if that’s not your thing, I can better understand why it wouldn’t appeal to you.

My local Mexican take-out is really superb. They make all the tortillas from scratch with masa and a hand press. The protein is fresh and grilled. If you order a burrito it will be half-filled with rice. But not that Uncle Ben’s crap. It’s a fragrant melding of tomatoes, onions, garlic and other spices. It is also the only thing that I will eat that contains cilantro.

Chipotle actually come close with their rice. But it’s more the flavoring than the actual texture or amount of other ingredients. But at least it’s not too dry, which to me is the killer. Mexican rice should be on the dry side. But not parched.

As far as I can tell, the only difference between Chipotle & Freebirds (apart from the fact that no place other than the first Austin, TX store can get away with the decor without having it look far beyond tacky) is that Freebirds has more ingredients to offer & actually packs their burritos in a way that you can consume them without spilling their contents.

On those two grounds alone, there’s really no contest. Edit: Though I will give the Chipotle staff credit for giving me towels to guard myself from the rain when I didn’t have an umbrella in Pittsburgh.

You might want to withhold judgment if you haven’t eaten at the original Chuy’s by Zilker park. I’m pretty sure that Mesa Rosa’s has been up in Round Rock for years. At least the one on 620.

Never been to a Freebirds.

Currito however is my new love. It makes Chipotle look like Rally’s by comparison. The Classic is basically a better version of Chipotle’s standard burrito, but you can also choose from delicious alternatives like Thai, Teriyaki, Cajun, etc. that are amazing. They have great chips and salsa, and good queso as well. Best of all, a small burrito with chips, salsa and drink is nearly the same price as a burrito by itself at Chipotle.

I’m also a fan of Qdoba. Great chips and queso, and the grilled chicken burrito is better than Chipotle by a mile. Since Qdoba and Currito opened locations near me I haven’t once eaten at Chipotle in the past 18 months or so.

My one major complaint about Chipotle is that their burrito is too big. If they had the same thing but 3/4 the size and for a couple bucks less, it would be ideal. I’d definitely check this place out if they offer a smaller burrito option, if it ever came to the north east.

Well, I like Freebirds as much as Chipotle, which is not that much.

Neither can compare to [local taqueria where you have to order in spanish].

Agreed on that.

I’ll admit that the only Chipotle I’ve ever experienced is the one in downtown Ann Arbor, but I can’t see how anyone can in one breath complain that this Freebird place (which I’ve never seen) is bland, and then say they like Chipotle.

Chipotle gives you a bag of rice, basically. Whether you wrap it up in a flour tortilla, put it in a salad bowl or use a hard shell, its exactly the same tasteless sack of rice. They really really really skimp on ALL other ingredients.

The first time I tried it was bad, but I actually went back a second time, figuring that maybe I’d just had an unfortunate experience. Chicken burrito, and halfway through I unwrapped the damned thing and couldn’t find a bit of chicken in the entire wrap. Tasteless tortilla and tasteless rice, that was it.

Never setting foot in the place again. Give me Mo’s Southwestern Grill anytime over that.

Chipotles in Michigan must suck, then. The rice is far from tasteless. They do not skimp on ingredients here, either. And, as explained, you can get it without the rice (and I’ve never experienced the ‘burrito is half the size without rice’ phenomenon that some of you are describing). It’s not the best Mexican food ever or anything, but it’s surely a step in the right direction for the ENTIRE INDUSTRY when they’re trying to be as sustainable and organic as a large fast food chain can be.