A version of this article was published in the Denton Record-Chronicle on Thursday, September 16, 2010
By Ellen Ritscher Sackett / Staff Writer
Over the last 20 years, Freebirds World Burrito’s Texas-focused chain has developed something of a cult following.
Freebirds fanatics are those willing to drive for miles to get their fill of the restaurant’s burritos, tacos, nachos and the like. They hotly debate the merits of Freebirds over its national competitor, Chipotle, and describe in detail their favorite combinations from a choice of 3 trillion possibilities. They fill up “fanatic cards” with stamps, redeemable toward rewards based on accumulated purchases.
Now, fortunately, local fanatics won’t have to fill up their gas tanks to get to the closest Freebirds. As of today, Denton has one of its own.
Earlier this week, Freebirds Denton opened its doors in two days of mock trial runs, which doubled as benefits for its two local causes: the University of North Texas College of Music and the Denton State Supported Living Center. For a $5 donation, customers were invited to chow down on a custom-made meal and to experience the Freebirds culture. From its start as the joint venture between two college roommates to its more recent corporate expansion, Freebirds’ philanthropic, “change the world,” be-yourself attitude appeals largely to the college crowd and the ever-optimistic — a perfect fit for Denton.
DRC file photo/
Holding a burrito high, “Libby” sits on a custom chopper at Freebirds World Burrito. The Denton location of the Texas-centric chain is now open at Rayzor Ranch Marketplace.
Earlier this week, Freebirds Denton opened its doors in two days of mock trial runs, which doubled as benefits for its two local causes: the University of North Texas College of Music and the Denton State Supported Living Center. For a $5 donation, customers were invited to chow down on a custom-made meal and to experience the Freebirds culture. From its start as the joint venture between two college roommates to its more
Until Monday, I was among the uninitiated. Peeking through the glass windows, I could see the Statue of “Libby” suspended from the ceiling, busting through the Berlin Wall on a Voodoo custom chopper. (Later I learned this representation of freedom is found in every Freebirds restaurant.) As soon as I walked through the door, I was hit with a barrage of rock ’n’ roll and greetings from more-than-helpful employees.
A young, nose-ringed gentleman loudly suggested over the music that I try the famous burrito. He led me to the cafeteria-style fresh food line where I was introduced to Miyaka, a friendly employee with a movie-star smile who made recommendations from the freebies, extras and sauces as we went along.
Our completed collaboration was a foil-wrapped cylindrical creation stuffed inside a spinach tortilla, made with grilled chicken, black beans, rice, guacamole, lots of cilantro, red onion, roasted corn, salsa and who knows what else I agreed to. Common sense aside, I also agreed to chips and queso. Fortunately, I was starving.
As I properly unpeeled the foil, I began a lengthy journey toward the other end of the burrito. I didn’t quite make it through the seismic Tex-Mex portion. (I did, however, in spite of my big eyes and stuffed stomach, find some room for the creamy white cheese queso.)
My husband went with the more manageable carnita tacos, slow roasted since morning and slightly spicy. He gave the Sweet Leaf Tea the thumbs up, and I washed down my meal with a soda (no Coke, Pepsi). Maybe next time we’d go for a beer or try a frozen margarita. At meal’s end, we opted to throw out our used foil rather than add to the restaurant’s decor, as suggested, with artistic expressions. The new restaurant was already dotted with odd-shaped animals and shiny aluminum-foil sculptures.
The eager employees all wanted to know how we liked our first visit. We liked it. Was it, as one Facebook fanatic described, “the most bodaciously epic masticating flavorful adventure of the taste buds”?
Well, that statement might be a bit over the top, but then, "over the top" would describe Freebirds perfectly.