Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chipotle Versus Moe's Southwest Grill

Moe's perfected the burrito recipe.
God Bless,
Moe's Southwest Grill 

I don't know what has caused me not to patronize Moe's Southwest Grill ever, despite every time I've driven by the Battleground location saying "That looks interesting", but I deeply regret not going till today. You see it's the whole "Southwest" in the name that threw me off. I'm thinking Texas grilled chicken and chipotle sauce, okay, but that's not my forte', Never once did I think California Burrito with authentic salsa bar. Indeed, that's exactly what Moe's Southwest Grill is. It's an elaborate version of the burrito cart, van, or stand in Southern California, complete with its cooler of Cerveza. 

Where have you been?

Today was Cinco De Mayo, and Moe's had dollar beers and $5.50 burritos. Their menu is simple and to the point and the staff was friendly even though you could tell every time they said "Cinco De Mayo" they blamed their bosses for the silliness. Free wifi, and a clean atmosphere has made Moe's Southwest Grill the top of my list. 

I can honestly say I have a new favorite.

I ordered the Triple Lindy with Steak. This is a huge, estimated 2 LB burrito with rice shredded cheese, salsa (pico de gallo) and sour creme. Add in the salsas at the condiment bar. Not that I noticed till now, but I probably would have liked some jalapenos. I'm sure they have them, (they do) but I didn't think of it. 

The kids got quesadillas and I traded the beer for coke due to my obligations as designated driver of the children.

This is a place I won't just go to because I'm near it, I'll purposely hunt it down. When I say this is my new favorite, I do not joke. Burritos are one of my favorite foods, and I'm glad I've finally found a place locally to get a huge mammoth burrito. If only they'd serve breakfast burritos, I'd be set. 

I'm also enticed by the fact they have online ordering, (they need an app like 5 Guy's though) but only at the Wendover store. 

If I was religious, I'd say "God bless Moe's Southwest Grill" because surely this is a miracle in itself. Here's in the middle of deep fried North Carolina, I found my California style burrito. 


I think she wishes she worked at Moe's
"Chipotle My Cheating Heart."

So last week in rather odd turn of events our family landed itself at Chipotle instead of Moe's for our little outing. Moe and I had something going. A relationship beyond just food, it was bond, one which I never saw much need to move beyond. After all, it was his burritos which made me find God. Oral was great as long as it was in my mouth, and covered in cheese.

I'd like to think of it more as a small fling when we walked into Chipotle over on Battleground. After all, burrito restaurants are just like men: different facades but all the same on the inside, right? Wrong. Chipotle toots itself as the tree hugger of the two, with free-range this and that, organic goodies, and a dining room set from Ikea. This makes Moe's that bad boy in town dripping in queso, and it's southwest Machismo attitude

Needless to say, Chipotle was good. I ordered a Fajita Burrito and covered it in hot sauce, ordered some chips and a nice Corona and sat down in a booth made of shingling and particle board. The experience was rather odd. The food, tasty, zesty, fresh and unique.... but is it better than Moe's?

Well Chipotle has some really good things about it. They have a great website, an apparently much easier on-line ordering mechanism, and a morally conscience menu capable of enticing the healthiest of hug-a-whalers in for a burrito. The staff was super friendly, and they quickly explained the process of left-to-right menu ordering. The burritos do also appear to be bigger. Though I'm not sure if bigger is always better.

The negatives: Chips aren't free, rather they're very expensive.... In fact, almost everything is a'la carte, and it's not cheap. There's also no salsa bar, and there does appear to be a gender bias in the customer base. In fact I did a head count that night and the female to male ratio was 3:1. It's definitely a female thing. In fact most of the men going to Chipotle were being dragged in the door by their female counterparts. Which is where I must really must be honest here. I think Chipotle is a bit of a fashion trend. There food is good, maybe even great. If I'm trying to be healthier, and maintain that trend.... perhaps I'm a bit tired of salad, Chipotle seems like a great health-conscience place where I can toss on those new pumps and go to lunch with the girls at. I'll nibble around on my fresh burrito sauteed with smokey peppers and tangy cilantro and talk about all the bargains I made shopping.... It's a different "type" of burrito. I could very easily "crave" Chipotle style burritos, but it would never, ever satisfy a Moe's "craving". Chipotle is good, normal food... Moe's on the other hand... well for those of you who understand... is the only one of the two that will solve those certain times of the month when you just need something bad.

That's when darkness falls, and I'm wearing sweat pants, trainers, and have my two kids in tow, that's when I need my bad boy across the street, where I'll drip queso all over myself, shoot salsa down my shirt, and scream at the top of my lungs while stuffing a big juicy Triple Lindy down my throat: "Welcome to Moe's". 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Greensboring: Purgatory For Italian Food And Hell For Fun

I get that this blog is an image problem for the city of Greensboro. I know that, I get their emails. In its infancy I was approached and asked all sorts of things like, selling it (for the good of the city) all the way to being constantly reminded how we're (I'm) not Forbes, and it is they who decided what is "boring". They were referring to the article called "Not Greensboring Anymore". It's important to remember, even that article ended on a somber note.

Kat Beegle, 30, grumbles that it gets a lot harder after 25. “We’re part of the Bible belt,” she moaned. “People are either married at my age, or they’re divorced or separated with a lot of baggage.”

The reality is this: No matter how many ballparks, bars or museums you build, you’ll never satisfy everyone.

Now as many of you know, I've always felt this blog being local has served as a conduit for that which displays how we're (the area is) not boring. I've done my best, but if we're going to be honest... and let's... it's never going to be Greensbooming as Lacey Rose puts it. No matter how much you want to believe in something, if the facts don't support it- then we must stop believing and must start doing something about it. (I realize some are- but the majority are not)

Now that I've enraged the locals once again, let me express myself through the facts. While I am in a relationship, (apparently one key aspect of not being bored is finding dates according to Rose) have children and am a bit past my prime- I still go out occasionally on a Friday night, hit the pubs, do the town, and make it back to class on Monday. It's a bit different, but a more well-rounded experience, and unlike my 18-25 year old counterpart- I perhaps can afford dinner, and entertainment for multiple people rather than a black light X on my hand and "dancing till I'm numb, acting like we're dumb" evening of glitter and dance. 

Last Friday we decided to go to Cline Observatory partially for my class requirement, but also because its free, open every Friday to the public and a really cool thing to do with the family. It was a really great experience, and the night was starting off great... nothing was boring at all. What boggled my mind is that in a city of a quarter of a million plus residents how a free, working observatory could only draw 30 people. Where is everyone? As Shan would find out a few days later when she expressed her excitement over the observatory, some people feel they "don't like how schools are teaching that science stuff in place of Religion." She was (rather randomly) scolded for visiting a really great asset to the city by a manager at a local Greensboro business when she spoke highly of the city- does this seem self-defeating?

So back to the real question. Where they hell is everyone? The answers would soon come. On our way to downtown, we passed Olive Garden, Chili's, and a slew of other mini-mall infested national chain restaurants. The lots were overflowing, SUVs parked on the grass, but meanwhile local little establishments sat nearly vacant. My torta palace closed- how could they compete? Why does Greensboro have a fascination with these big-box corporate giants who sell the image of culture, but lack decent food or tact. What part of Italy can you get frozen unlimited bread-sticks served by a high-school drop-out who can't even speak their own language or let alone find Italy on a map. Have you ever seen anyone remotely Italian work or eat there? I've never seen a picture of an olive grove (notice grove, not garden) in Italy with a behemoth 6000 square foot flood light lit box of a building on it. This is when I begin to ask does going to (or having access to) a faux-Italian restaurant on Friday night make Greensboring less boring? Being like every other city in the country seems to suggest the opposite to me- but I'm always wrong.

I knew this couldn't be every-one's idea of excitement and I continued to drive down High Point Road. A rather dismal place after the bright lights of Four-Seasons Town Centre, our mall, which we purposely spelled "Centre" in the European (English) style despite there being nothing European about it. Unlike the outdoor cafes of Europe that locals walk to and sit with their dogs, you can come to Greensboro- sit in our food court sucking down Chick-fil-a through your pie hole, reading the bible passages on the napkins and bags. Oh and the dogs? They're behind the glass window in the pet store where you can buy an inbred pekingese-poodle for $950 then later decide you can't afford the dog food for and try to return it. If that fails, Randolph County is the agreed upon place to release your "Poofy" back into the wild. Keep telling yourself he will have a long and prosperous life in the wild while "Poofy" weaves in and out of big-rigs on highway 421.

When I finally got downtown, I was so excited.... It was Friday, about 9pm and this was the "mecca" for excitement and "non-boringness" in North Carolina. I pulled into the garage, and headed out on my night of fun and excitement. Something was wrong though. Natty Greens looked closed, several restaurants were out of business. Upon closer inspection I see everyone huddled inside Natty's. No one outside? Sure it's cold... but there's outdoor heaters... and inside is... well, so.... boring! McCoul's seemed equally dead as did the other bars. Did I screw up, was this really Friday? Eventually we ended up at Venice as it was about the only thing that looked open. (It also had a sign that said "Open Late" (apparently 9PM is too late for Greensboro). The pizza was good, hand-made, and was at least served by someone speaking another language, though I'm not sure which. (wasn't Italian) The kitschy Tuscan wallpaper seemed in a state of decay, and the place wasn't exactly the fanciest place in town- but yet somehow, it had character... somehow it felt real. Real because here, in a facade of reprinted Italian oil paintings crooked on the wall- under it was a historic building, in it was immigrants making real food, and patrons who had walked the sidewalk getting here, and breathed the cold winter air as they journeyed to this special little place to pay someone for a bit of (mis-applied) culture and warm food. It wasn't authentic, it wasn't pure- but it was more than much of Greensboro was getting this "rocking" Friday evening. Sure the owner was likely Libyan, and not Italian.... but this was his restaurant- his food, this place was his story. Unfortunately there was only a half dozen people in the whole place. Everyone else was eating at the Denny's of Italian Food apparently.

The night was going fairly well so far. Entertainment, food, and all for $20. The evening had the opportunity to be classified as "not so boring", but it wasn't over. It was only 10PM... we were young, and alive. So we went to Alex's for dessert. Unfortunately it was closed. "What?" I started spinning around hearing shutting doors all around... downtown was shutting down? I was a bit upset... I really wanted my cake and eat it too. With downtown shutting down, except for the dance clubs catering to 15 year old whores in torn leggings and six inch heels. there wasn't a whole bunch to do. We enjoyed our nice little walk back to the car and stood on top of the parking garage staring out into the vacant streets and empty downtown park. A ghost city laid before us.

In hindsight I wonder if the downtown curfew has been partially to blame. I wonder why the concept of "fun" in Greensboro is a theme based restaurant with drive-up parking and menus in English. Where are the people star-gazing, where are the people walking under the stars? Where are the families, the dogs on a walk? The street vendors, and where is this Greensbooming I've been falsely promised, sworn exists- but have yet to experience? The Greensboring curse cannot be refuted by simply yelling "go here" and "try this", because there are some things, and some experiences that aren't boring- but what really makes a place exciting isn't what there is to do, but the people, and what they do together- and why they choose to live in a place. For Greensboro, people don't live here because it's booming.