If one is looking for a cheap, delicious burrito, Freebirds is not the place to go. Located on El Camino Real in Palo Alto, Freebirds brands itself as an upstart restaurant that produces unique burritos with organic ingredients.
Upon arrival, the restaurant was clean and relatively busy. I was expecting to have a good burrito and experience. I did not. This burrito chain restaurant prides itself on variety and unique flavors. One thing Freebirds offers that other burrito places may not is variety. To start, customers can choose from four different tortilla flavors: cayenne, flour, corn and spinach. The burritos come in four different sizes. The medium size burrito is a slightly smaller than a Chipotle burrito, but costs a little bit more at around $8. The burrito is constructed in an assembly-line style, much like Chipotle. As the construction process continues, customers can pick from two types of cheeses, two types of rice and many kinds of meats. Freebirds offers light and dark chicken meat along with other typical burrito meats. Customers can top their burrito with a variety of different sauces and salsas. The ideas are all there to make Freebirds an exemplary eatery, but the execution is lacking.
To start, the service was lackluster. Perhaps I caught them on an off-day, but the mediocre service and lack of friendliness from the staff was not a good start. The staff member who worked on my burrito was borderline rude and got annoyed with the questions I was asking. The other staff members were neither friendly nor unfriendly, and I almost felt rushed as I was making my burrito.
I ordered a chicken burrito much similar to the one I would order at Chipotle, La Costena, La Bamba or any other burrito place. In my burrito, I chose cilantro lime rice, jack cheese, corn, salsa and lime. The food wasn’t horrible, but nothing stood out to me. The chicken was dry and the rice lacked flavor. The other ingredients were very average. Not horrible, just not good. Definitely not worth going out of the way to get.
Despite the mediocrity, Freebirds is not a disaster. Adventurous burrito enthusiasts might find the unorthodox style of burritos, with flavored wraps and customizable sauces, a step-up from the customary Chipotle set up. The taco lunch deal that provides two tacos, chips and a drink for $5 is noteworthy and makes Freebirds a competitive lunch spot if a student has a free period and is willing to make the drive to Palo Alto.
Perhaps I didn’t order the right combination of ingredients to get the Freebirds experienced that I expected. Until proven otherwise, other burrito shops still have the advantage in flavor and price.