Friday, April 4, 2014

Freebirds World Burrito Hits Wichita!

For the longest time, fans of the “Make Your Own Burrito” adventure in Wichita had to go to Chipotle and to a lesser extent Poblano. In the past year, one of the newer chains popped up in Wichita at Central and Hillside: Freebirds World Burrito.

I can't believe I didn't get the entire restaurant name in the picture
They now have two locations in Wichita: the original location at 410 N. Hillside and the newer location at 2350 N. Greenwich. This is a chain and you can check out their website http://freebirds.com for more information including the menu.

If you are not familiar with the “Make Your Own Burrito” adventure as I like to call it, it’s a “fast food” style restaurant where you show up and pick your tortilla type, the type of rice between cilantro lime or Spanish rice, type of beans, cheese, meat, salsa, and a host of other toppings. It’s essentially a Subway for burritos minus Jared Fogle rubbing it in your face with how much weight he’s loss. Take note that you can also order tacos, burrito bowls (minus the tortilla), salads and other items.

I’ve been to Freebirds before in Kansas City and the location in Wichita a handful of times so I wanted to have three of my friends join me that have never been to Freebirds before. For this particular review, we attended the Central and Hillside location. The very first comment one of my friends made to me when she walked in was “They serve margaritas!!!!”. Yes, they do serve margaritas and beer at Freebirds. Some of my friends react like it’s Christmas Day when they see restaurants serve alcohol that they didn’t expect……sort of like Taco Tico back in the day. McDonald’s, are you next?

When you order your burritos, you can order them in three sizes: hybrid ($1 less than the Freebirds), Freebirds, and Monster ($1 more than the Freebirds). Two of my friends all ordered the Freebirds while I felt feisty and ordered the Monster. The fourth person in our group ordered a burrito bowl with the tortilla on the side. Getting through the line two of the girls thought it was pretty smooth to get through, another thought it was a kind of slow and the staff seemed pretty frazzled. Mine took a little longer because I had to wait for the cilantro lime rice to get prepared and two people passed in front of me while I waited. No problem at all, waits happen at any of this style of places when they are out of a certain food item. Three of four were satisfied.

The Freebirds burritos (and burrito bowls) were $7.29, they charge extra for guacamole, queso and sour cream. One of the girls felt she got her money’s worth for adding the side of sour cream and not the guacamole. I felt it was a fair portion of guacamole I received and another paid $3 for the meal deal which included chips and a drink. She felt it seemed like a high price for what she got out of the meal deal; then beers and margaritas were also ordered.  

While we were sitting down and eating, we noticed how cold it was in the building. The outside temperature was 45 degrees that evening and it felt like that inside the building. We would later find out from one of the employees the A.C. was on and they couldn’t get it to turn off as the unit was broken and they had somebody coming in to fix it. I will say it was a good thing I brought my jacket. One of the girl’s queso started to harden up. The employee was very apologetic and would later come back to give us all coupons for free chips and salsa.

Here are the individual notes from each of the people that joined me:

Eater #1 ordered a spinach tortilla with white rice, chicken, queso, guacamole, sour cream, veggies, pico, and chips with guac. She felt it was worth the price for the burrito but the extras of sour cream and guac wasn’t worth the price. The chips and drink were a little too much. The ingredients didn’t have the same flavor as the other places in Wichita, pretty bland in general. She mentioned during dinner it didn’t have the “fresh taste” to it. The spinach tortilla was the best part about the burrito to her as was the queso. Freebirds has more choices but not exactly the quality of their competition. She would give it a try again in the future.

Freebirds vs. Monster Size. Ouch.
Eater #2 had a burrito bowl with the tortilla on the side. She felt the pricing was fair except for the guacamole charge. Compared to the competition, she didn’t feel as there was much flavor but the ingredient quality seemed comparable though. There are a lot of options so she was glad she looked online ahead of time to get an idea of what to order. She did notice the bottles that hold the sauces weren’t labeled so she would like to see all of the options. If there was a location on the west side of town, she’d try it again.

Eater #3 had a chicken burrito with a cayenne tortilla. She was pleased with the pricing and the burrito was pretty big and she didn’t finish it. She wasn’t too impressed with the quality of ingredients. She was a big fan of the ambience and the atmosphere of the place other than the freezing temperature of the place and would probably come back for another beer and to try their carnitas.

Eater #4 also known as me. I went with a Monster burrito with the cayenne tortilla. I had the carnitas with the cilantro lime rice, no beans, no cheese. They informed me since I didn’t get cheese, I could get either guacamole or sour cream for no charge so I went with guacamole. I felt the pricing was very fair for what you got. It’s a lot of food even if you get the Freebirds size. The ingredients I liked outside of the veggies which were very soggy. I think their salsa options are much better than the competition as I’m a huge fan of salsa and condiments in general. I’ve been to Freebirds many times so I knew what I was getting so my opinion was a little biased. The competition’s meat has a little better quality though than Freebirds. Freebirds is ahead though in their tortillas, salsas, and number of options. I would go again as proven by my numerous other times attending. The Monster burrito is huge…… huge. I nearly finished it and felt like a zombie in the Walking Dead upon finishing dinner.

Overall most of us were pleased with the atmosphere and the service minus the, as one friend put it, arctic blast. The ambience is very clean and nice. Along the walls, people turn their aluminum foil that wraps up their burrito into art; nice little touch.

 #Foil Angry (cheap attempt at a caption, I know)
All three others said they’d give a return a try if they were in the area. The three others actually live on the West side of town so it’s not exactly convenient for all three to make it out to one unless they are working out East. To rate the experience, it was more of a positive than a negative. I’ve actually gone to Freebirds more than the competition in the past year and the girls all seemed to lean towards the competition when choosing a favorite. Maybe it’s a gender thing….. who knows?

It’s a place you should definitely try out for yourselves to see if you like it. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you do and how you feel it stacks up. 

Thanks to all three of my friends for joining!

Happy Friday and Happy Dining all. 

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think this place will put a hurting on Chipotle. I cant stand going to Chipotle anymore and the one up the street from my house (29th/Rock) is so stingy with stuff (peppers/onions/toppings etc) and their food does not taste near as good as Freebirds and costs more.


They opened up a Freebirds a week or two ago at 21st/Greenwich across from the Cabelas -- went in last night as my buddy that lives out by Hutch was in town and loves the place. My 3rd or 4th time here and was good as usual. I'll probably never eat at Chipotle again and cant remember the last time I have.