Chipotle needed a better vegetarian option. Until recently, the only thing a meat-adverse diner could order in the restaurant was a set of tacos or a burrito stuffed with black beans and a mix of grilled onions and bell peppers. The results were filling (everything at Chipotle is filling) but obviously an afterthought.
Then, in October, the guacamole giant introduced a new product in a few test markets, including Dallas. Sofritas, a braised and well-seasoned tofu, was marketed as a crossover vegetarian product -- not just good enough to lure in strict vegetarians, but delicious enough to attract die-hard carnivores.
If you've done any Spanish (sofrito) or Italian (soffritto) cooking, you might recognize the name as the blend of peppers, onions and garlic that form the flavor backbone of many dishes. Some versions are cooked down until the vegetables form an indiscernible paste. The results are generally amazing.
The cooks at Chipotle take their sautéing quite that seriously, but they make up for any shortcomings with plenty of chipotle chilies, roasted poblanos and spices. The results are heady and, honestly, meaty. It resembles a lean ground meat hit heavily with spices. In fact, I think the Sofritas best the chicken in Chipotle burritos, which is often tough and dry.
The burritos that result from a Sofritas order, unfortunately, are just as gargantuan as their meaty counterparts. You can try your best to request "just a little rice," or "only a touch of that mild salsa," but you're still going to end up with a burrito bigger than your forearm. You'll need help getting your burrito to your table, and you'll probably have to sit still for a few hours after you've finished it. You'll also end up with a burrito that's way better for your heart, and the environment as a whole. Not bad at all.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.