Banzai Chipotle

The first time I heard of “chipotle flavor,” I thought the restaurant chain was branching out into the grocery store.

Living overseas in the military, I got used to certain things being pretty much unavailable. There’s often no local branch of the popular stores Americans find at their shopping center. We get the Commissary for groceries (albeit at a very nice price for most items) and the Base Exchange for everything else… a sort of department store with a little of everything but probably not the specific thing you want.

Eating at Chipotle is one of these experiences you can’t easily get overseas. It seemed high on the list of things people were looking forward to on returning to the States. Online shopping has changed a lot of the frustration of unavailability… but you can’t well order a stuffed burrito in the mail and hope it arrives fresh.

So it’s a pleasant surprise to find a wannabe Chipotle’s on a base in Japan. I received news of a short-notice temporary trip away from Okinawa to avoid some high winds that might make flying impossible. Upon arriving, I discovered an ad for Banzai Burritos in my room.

Someone had the bright idea of opening up a might-as-well-be-called-Chipotle’s on base, and it’s right across the street from the lodging building I’m staying in.

Well how am I supposed to say no to that?

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Cilantro rice… yes please. Delicious mixes of onions and peppers over grilled steak… of course. Fire-roasted hot pepper salsa? Sure, I’ll try a touch of that.

My first experience with Chipotle’s in the States was a military appreciation day. The local branch offered a free burrito to any active duty servicemembers (and I believe any veterans). Free is my favorite price to pay for something, so I made my way to the restaurant to find a line wrapped double around the entire dining room.

The burrito was worth every minute of wait.

Here at Banzai Burritos, every day is essentially military appreciation day. If I have to fly a long mission, I might as well pack a stuffed burrito in my bag. And if I have to spend an afternoon at this home away from home, enormous tacos will certainly ease the pain.

This trip definitely has a silver lining… wrapped around a grilled steak burrito.

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