Revisiting Columbia Heights’ Chiptole – What do you think now?


We have had many discussions about the Chipotle which opened up at 3113 14th Street, NW. It was a surprisingly (to me) controversial topic. I want to revisit it for one primary reason – it is always packed! I mean, I can walk by this place at 2:30 in the afternoon and there is a line. At noon and there is a line snaking completely around the store. And mind you, the line is comprised of black residents, white residents and latino residents. I mean it seems to be a real melting pot. This is not up for debate. It is very successful. But I am curious to hear from those who opposed its arrival. Seeing the success it has achieved among all residents, do you still think it was a bad idea for Columbia Heights (or any other neighborhood for that matter)?

38 Comment

  • Good for Columbia Heights – Helpful in turning a not so safe area into a more habitable place.

    Bad for Mt. Pleasant, where we love our local business owners, but the big chains are a threat to them.

  • I went here for the first time Sunday, around 11:45. I got in and out in about 5 minutes, even though the woman in front of me was order for what seemed like her entire extended family (she must have carried at least 6 burrito bowls out of that place). They also gave me a veggie BB instead of a chicken, but whatever, at least I didn’t have to pay extra for the guacamole. I’ll go again.

  • I love Chipotle and so glad I don’t have to venture to the burbs or Gallery Place to get my fix. I have noticed that people there tend to order a lot of meals for carry out.

  • Honestly, I think that the potential success this Chipotle might have in attracting all kinds of customers was probably one of the main reasons some people opposed it. There are some people who would rather have restaurants and bars that the “locals” don’t frequent. Remember the lengthy diatribes against the IHOP that was rumored to be coming to CH?

  • I love the convenience of this Chipotle. The only downsides are 1) the line that often extends to the second door of the restaurant, and 2) the limited seating. But since I live nearby, I can just get it to go. Yummm…barbacoa burrito.

    And to those who complain about chains…I bet Chipotle contributes more to the local economy than your average locally owned restaurant, since many of Chipotle’s ingredients are sourced locally, while others will buy the cheapest ingredients they can ship in from wherever.

  • McDonalds is packed as well, so it’s not really a comment on quality. I’m not in the anti-chain crowd. I just think Chipotle is not very good. I’d take Q-Doba over it anyday. And OBVIOUSLY Pedro & Vinny’s.

  • What’s not to like about Chipotle? It’s cheap, delicious, and unlike other fast food restaurants and most expensive restaurants, most of the meat they serve is from animals that are naturally (pasture) raised. Ever since I read the Omnivore’s Dilemma and Fast Food Nation, Chipotle is one of the places where I can go guilt-free or at least less guilty…

  • I walk past both Chipotle and Distrito Federal on my way home. DF is just better food, albeit a bit more expensive, and I feel like I’m supporting the community when I go to DF. I understand that Chipotle actually employs like six times the people and is just as good for the community, but there’s just something about it that turns me off. Maybe it’s my hipster sensibilities.

    I’ll also feel terrible if the DF owner sees me walk by with a Chipotle bag. He knows my name and he’s so damn friendly.

    • DF is more expensive than something?? Everytime I go there I think the owner should increase his prices! You’re right on the other stuff, though… good food and the owner is about the nicest guy ever. He must’ve jumped my crappy car about three times this year, and he always gives my kid little treats, and puts cartoons on the TV for her.

    • Hipster sensibilities? I’ve heard it all now.

  • Two thumbs up from my wife and I who eat here often. It is the most crowded restaurant in CH since it opened and has a very diverse following. Fast and polite service, clean and cheap. And if you order a vegi bowl healthy and fresh.

    Though certainly there will be complainers, the place takes up a small footprint and is simply an option that does not preclude other restaurants from moving into the many vacant storefronts. I’m hoping that with each success comes fewer vacancies.

  • A guilty pleasure. But a pleasure. Veggie burrito bowl = food coma bliss.

  • I’d prefer the Chicken Chimi at Haydee’s anyday over Chipotle

  • Chipotle and the CH chains have nothing to do with the demise of business in Mt. Pleasant. That’s the fault of meddlesome neighborhood activists who are deadset on forbidding live music and anything remotely fun in that neighborhood.

    I don’t eat at Chipotle unless I have stocked up on Chipotlaway (TM) – your answer to restoring underwear from the post-Chipotle anal bleeding.

    • Amen. I get slightly ill in my stomach every time I hear someone complaining about corporations in the context of Columbia Heights and DC neighborhoods.

      There were few to zero “locally owned” businesses in Mt. Pleasant or Columbia Heights that catered to anyone other than the El Salvadorean community before DCUSA. Mt. Pleasant Street has always been a wasteland, and if anyone went out of business because of Target, it certainly wasn’t because anyone I know stopped shopping there. There was nowhere to shop. A dollar store that sells the crappiest Chinese slave-labor stuff that breaks the first time you use it is not a substitute for real stores. Nor do such businesses contribute anything substantive to the neighborhood in terms of decent jobs, or selling goods made in this country.

      Those people who hate target/chipotle/anything that sells stuff we actually want, don’t shop there, but the reality is those places employ people, and dramatically improve quality of life for people in DC who used to schlep to the ‘burbs to buy anything. Especially so for people without cars – the poorest people – who had few options locally to get necessities of life and would be looking at hours of travel time for basic shopping.

      • Agreed. I was a fan of Burritos Fast when I lived in Mt. Pleasant, and I’d probably still be going there if I lived there, but come on. Clean up after yourself. Put a coat of paint on the trim every few years. Make the place welcoming to customers if you want them to come! This is a chronic problem for local DC businesses, so much so that the city will actually pay for improvements like repair to the facade and signage and stuff. Is there any excuse left?

        I don’t like chains very much, but I do like options. I don’t like the aesthetic of a lot of new places going in, but I do like when business owners make an effort to keep their little part of the city presentable.

      • i love that dollar store.

      • WHAT????

        There were half a dozen locally-owned “white” or yuppie businesses in Mt Pleasant prior to DCUSA. Are you blind or just dumb?

        Other than that wildly incorrect statement I agree with everything else you said.

        Locally owned yuppie businesses pre-DCUSA included: Raven, Marx, Tonic, Radius, the African art store, Curves, Dos Gringos, etc.

        Bestway is iffy, it’s local but only half yuppie. Ditto with Haydees- go in at dinner and it’s 75% yuppie families, stay later and I’m sure it changes.

        • I don’t eat at Chipotle b/c it sucks, but I don’t mind that it is here feeding the rest of you.

          But, seriously, Chipotle cannot possibly be causing the demise of MtP businesses. Is anyone walking from MtP to Chipotle for a burrito? If Dos Gringos is suffering it is because their service is horrible (I really tried to like that place, but come on…). Radius, service ok, but Pizza, yuck (thank god for Pete’s I would walk a mile to eat at Pete’s).

    • Have those meddlesome neighborhood activists moved to Chinablock? Sure seems like it.

  • What surprised me most about Chipotle is how bad it is for you. The flour tortilla itself is 9 grams of fat and 670 mg of sodium. That is BEFORE you even put anything on it! Are you putting sour cream and cheese in your burrito? Theres another 10 grams and 8.5 grams of fat, respectively.
    Chipotle tastes awesome, I’m just surprised how much fat they can stuff into their items.

    • ah

      Any place that advertises their burritos through size comparisons to football you have to know is dishing out some mega-calories.

      • sure sure… but eat a football size of anything, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be good for you.

        it’s about portion control people. If it’s too big, then eat half and save the other half for later.

        also, sour cream is sour cream. It’s bad everywhere you get it. As are flour tortillas and cheese. You want to be healthy? then don’t get it.

        I like steak burrito bowls, and the way I like them, they’re around 500 calories. Not great. but not awful either.

    • This is why the USA is fat. People have no frakking clue what they’re actually eating.

      Forget fat – think about the calories. A chipotle burrito isn’t a “meal” – it’s more like “half to 2/3 of all the calories you should eat today.”

      That said, I love chipotle. Just don’t eat it every day.

      • I usually get the steak fajita burrito bowl. I went on the website counted up the calories. I usually put a little cheese and a little sour cream, but no guac. My burrito bowl has around 500 and I don’t normally eat the whole thing. I usally eat half to 2/3rds and save the rest for later.

        So it’s not actually terrible.

        • Yeah. I’m a believer in the veggie bowl lunch. Even if I do eat the whole thing, it’s about 700 calories, and I don’t need another large meal that day. More commonly, I put a little or a lot aside to finish up the day. If one counts in my usual breakfast yogurt and a reaonably healthy homemade bedtime snack, I actually had a reasonably healthy day.

          I fully realize this ain’t nutrition at its best. But it’s not horrendous either, given how much really horribly unhealthy food is out there.

      • There was only a really brief time in my life that I ate an entire chipotle burrito at one sitting. Otherwise I save half. They’re too big to eat at once unless that same day you play basketball for an hour.

    • yeah its pretty crazy. a chicken burrito w/ sour cream and cheese has 1,125 calories and 20 grams of saturated fat.

      this is a useful tool for determining the approximate nutritional value of your Chipotle food:

      that said, I like Chipotle – I just find the fat and sodium content of their food to be fairly horrifying.

  • I had it for dinner. Love the conviene for those days I don’t want to cook. Walk past it from work so I get it to go. Love it

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    Getting a complete meal at Chipotle with fresh, whole food ingredients for under $7 makes it a no-brainer as to why the place is a crowd pleaser among all swaths of humanity. The staff is super friendly and they keep a tidy outpost in our still in-development neck of DC.

    I dig the ability to order online/via its iphone app, it allows you to skip the line and head directly to the register.

    For a nutritious low-carb option, I sometimes go for the rice bowl minus the rice, cheese, or sour cream.

  • I am a big fan. Glad to have it and a few times a month it is a quick and easy dinner on the way home from the metro. If only there was a fast, FRESH, good sushi place in the area, it would be similarly packed. Huge, HUGE hole in the dining scene. I just hope some of the MANY other vacant spots in Tivoli, Park Triangle, Highland, and especially DC USA can start to attract businesses. Perpetually packed spots like Chipotle, Room 11, Redrocks, Pete’s, etc. are proof positive that there is tremendous pent-up demand for QUALITY affordable food in the CH area. Keep ’em coming!

    • I take it you don’t like the Korean-style sushi at Adams Express? They are a bargain but it’s Korean-style- big fat rolls- not Japanese.

  • I know it’s really popular to talk about how much you support local businesses, and God knows people on Mt P Street love spewing that crap… but they regularly run out of bread at Dos Gringos, and they have barely any workers at any given time, so it takes FOREVER.

    God I hate that place. If they wanted to just say “support our cheap restaurant” that would be one thing, but don’t paint it in the context of supporting the local economy.

    Say what you will about Chipotle being a big evil national chain, but at least it’s clean, they don’t run out of food, and they have enough employees to keep things running smoothly — unlike Dos Gringos.

  • TDF is good, but it is way different than Chipotle. Yes, they both make burritos but in much different styles and flavor. There is room for both.

  • saf

    I dislike Chipotle. I hate the food, so I will never be happy that it is here.

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