By Jessica Huseman, Contributing Writer
Before any of you get your hopes up about this being an awesome and hip vegan food review, it isn’t. You’ll notice the picture to the left is covered in cheese and sour cream. Sorry. Tofu is just one of my top three favorite foods. …Right behind ropa vieja and a nice juicy steak. Again — sorry. I am the child of a cattle farmer. Beef is in my blood. Tofu is my adopted love. Conversion of my cattle-farming father is still pending, but I’m totally on board.
Given my propensity towards meat and the promise that my third-favorite food would taste a lot like chorizo, the launch of this product was enough to make me literally dance in my living room.
I approached the long line at the Chipotle near my apartment on the Upper West Side with a similarly dance-inducing level of excitement (yes, it sustained itself over the course of several months) but left with decently mixed feelings.
It was shocking to me how many people in line at Chipotle hadn’t even heard of the new tofu — which Chipotle is calling “sofritas” — given that this is the first update to Chipotle’s menu in five years. A strikingly cheerful Chipotle worker attempting to alert the masses of the new vegan-friendly fare also really wasn’t selling it very well, despite his amped-up joy. While passing out samples, he’d watch someone take a bite and say, “Not that bad, right?” Because when you eat food you really want your response to be “Hey, that wasn’t that bad.” I wanted to respond “NOT THAT BAD?! This is tofu that tastes like CHORIZO! THIS IS AMAZING!” But I refrained.
Let’s start with the bad news. First — and most disappointingly — I’m pretty sure the servers at Chipotle have been instructed to give you small helpings. Whether that’s because the product is new and they are trying to spread the wealth among the many who want it (a theory I find unlikely given the few people in the store who’d even heard of it), or because they are trying to keep costs down, I’m unsure.
The woman who scooped my sofritas initially scooped as big of a helping as she would have given me for meat or veggies, but ended up dumping about half of it back before topping my burrito bowl with a pretty measly helping that only covered about half of the bowl. The mound of rice underneath the tofu dwarfed the portion, creating a pretty sad looking burrito bowl.
When I got back to my seat, I decided that I would take a big bite of just the sofritas (pictured to the right) before digging into the rest of my bowl. They definitely lived up to the hype. If you believe the overly cheerful sample server, they cook the sofritas in the same spice mixture as the barbacoa, which gave them a deep, rich spice.
As it turns out, I’m pretty glad I went for the tofu-only first bite approach, because once I mixed it in with the rest of my burrito bowl the measly amount of tofu got drowned out by the rest of my toppings. So, what I ended up with was a bowl that tasted more like toppings than sofritas.
If you hit up Chipotle to try these for yourself, I recommend getting the tacos. They are small enough that they don’t hold a ton of toppings, so the sofritas would likely be the biggest flavor. Alternatively, we could all write letters to Chipotle in protest of their skimpy tofu portions. I recommend the latter option, but go with what you feel.
Dallas Update: There is no firm roll out date for when the Vegetarian/Vegan friendly option will be available in Dallas, but all Chipotle locations will offer sofritas by end of year.
Jessica Huseman is the editor of Politically Inclined, a blog dedicated to understandable and entertaining political analysis. By day, she teaches history and debate at an inner city school. Eating is largely her favorite time of day, but her palate is only sophisticated enough for reviews about Chipotle. And perhaps $10 bottles of wine. She lives and eats in New York City.