Gregg Hunter’s Newspace

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Chipotle has arrived in Glendale in the Trader Vic’s complex just north of Broadway on Glendale Avenue.  It’s a fast foodery with a fresh take on Mexican style staples.  The chain boasts  that they are “obsessed with searching the nation’s farms and ranches for the freshest, finest, most wholesome ingredients — etc etc etc.”  This includes “naturally raised meat from humanely raised and vegetable-fed animals free of antibiotics and growth hormones” —That’s unusual to say the least in the fast food arena.
If the throng on the chow assembly line during the weekday noon hour was any indication, I am not the only ‘curious palate’ on the scene.  A cheerful and quick moving young crew moved the line thru as they filled soft flour or crisp corn taco shells, with meat, salsa, cheese, sour cream and romaine —scooped fillings into giant soft tortilla sleeves with rice, black beans, meat, salsa, and cheese or sour cream.  A fajita version adds sautéed peppers and onions instead of beans with a 100 less calories. (all items carry estimated calorie counts). 
Everything can be bagged to go and it’s all to be eaten from and with plastic baskets, bowls and utensils.  The high-tech aura is turbo-clean, brightly exposed and shiny to a near-sterile fault and the ambience noisome to annoy some. A soft jazz playback didn’t have a prayer. The mid-day crowd was mostly young and familiar to the lunch line at In & Out Burger. There’s outdoor patio seating with a view of city buildings and endless bumper to bumper traffic.
My $5.70 chicken burrito was spicy and filling though the tortilla-wrap proved too rubbery to struggle with.  A 90-cent bag of chips proved plentiful but stale tasting.  Somehow the experience was as plastic as the ware, and the flavors too gringo, ergo I’m not shouting “ole!”  If I eventually venture to Chipotle again I’ll arrive during a slower time—if there is one.. 
A FAST FOOD FABLE.  As of this week, Pink’s Hot Dogs has been on the same corner at La Brea and Melrose in Hollywood for 70 years.  In the beginning the Pink family borrowed electricity from a neighboring hardware store and served hot dogs for one thin dime with a nickel soda.  Times and prices have certainly changed but Pink’s has prospered thru good times and bad.  It’s fast-food with style, aplomb, sauerkraut and great chili on meaty, all beef Oscar Meyer dogs.  Yes, there’s a line nite or day but it’s one where I’ve eagerly stood and waited since I first discovered Pink’s beaucoup years ago.  Happy Birthday Pink’s, and many happy returns.  If you haven’t been there recently, better put Pink’s hot-diggity hot dogs on your “must do” list.

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The Curious Palate

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