Stuff I want to eat: Frijoles, a Chipotle knockoff in Azabu Juban


When I lived in Washington, DC, one of my favorite places to eat was Chipotle, the formerly McDonald’s-owned seller of giant burritos. The combination of spicy salsa, sour cream, guacamole, and seared meat all wrapped in an overstuffed tortilla made for a reasonably priced explosion of flavor, guaranteed every time.

Accordingly, a complete lack of anything comparable in Japan (or any decent Mexican food, for that matter) has been a source of considerable homesickness for me.

Until now.

Joe has pointed me to Frijoles, a restaurant in Azabu Juban with a menu essentially identical to Chipotle. I have not eaten there yet, but it has so far received some positive word of mouth. I’ll be sure to report once I’ve had the chance to try it out.

34 thoughts on “Stuff I want to eat: Frijoles, a Chipotle knockoff in Azabu Juban”

  1. Mmn, no offense, but describing Frijoles (or any burrito place, for that matter) as a “Chipotle knockoff”, is a bit like describing your local hamburger joint as “a McDonald knockoff”…
    While I can certainly agree that having a Chipotle burrito is always better than nothing, I doubt many latinos (or even people living in cities with a good supply of the real stuff) would call it “decent mexican food”…

    That being said: yay for Frijoles! (and shame there aren’t more cheap, decent tex-mex options in Japan)

  2. I admit I havent eaten there but the website gives me no reason not to call it a Chipotle copy. And to me that’s a great thing, not pejorative at all. But that is me, I will freely accept that more sophisticated burrito eaters might think differently.

  3. Ate it last night. It’s exactly like you think it will be. Basically scores its points by letting you have sour cream with no additional charge.

  4. I never heard of Chipolte until that SouthPark episode, but i’m visiting the US next month and there is a Chipolte near our first hotel. I was tempted merely thanks to SP, but Adamu’s comment suggests it’s actually more than halfway decent. Is this the case, or am I taking my anus into my hands (metaphorically) by eating there?

  5. Chipotle is all right, but if there’s an independent Mexican restaurant nearby it’ll probably be better.

  6. Oh yes… I am definitely checking this out at the next free moment I have, thank you!! I, like Adamu, suffer from burrito withdrawal and am supremely disappointed with the paltry offerings of Mexican food that Tokyo (doesn’t) have. Tokyo is pretty good about having a good selection of most any kind of food, with two exceptions that I take note of:
    1) good Mexican/Tex-mex food
    2) Chicago-style deep dish pizza

  7. If any of you is ever in Osaka, check out the Osaka Station Acty building.
    On the 2nd of the 4 restaurant floors, you will find Chico’s & Charlies.
    A really nice Mexican restaurant. I try to eat there at least twice a year, if I can.

    Do not visit on a Saturday night, unless you like live music ~_~;;

    They serve some great Mexican food.

  8. You mention a lack of Chicago style pizza, but does Tokyo even have good New York style pizza? I’ve never seen or heard of it.

  9. Exactly why after 8 yrs here I have my fixins sent direct from AZ. There are NO good, or even half good Mexican / SW / TexMex, etc restaurants in greater Tokyo. Been to all of them – and they all suck. Hell, who in their right mind would sell burritos without horchata?

  10. If you’re ever in Miyazaki, check out Viva Mexico. Owners and chef are Mexican and they cook up some mighty fine grub. Very friendly place, as well. Come on the right Saturday night and you might even hear our band.

  11. There is a Texmex place in lil ol’ Beppu, but I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

  12. For tex/mex in Osaka, Uncle Stevens in Amemura is good, although I don’t think they do the 3000 calorie rice, rice, and rice meals that you get at Chipotle. Which is my problem with that place – it’s great for backpackers looking for cheap energy, and people who really like farting, but that is about it.

    Good post to follow one about mad cow.

  13. I am from Mexico and I can tell you that the US Chipotle restaurant can NOT be called Mexican food, regardless of whether it’s tasty or not. Maybe you could call it Tex-Mex or US-Mexican cuisine but definitely not Mexican. In fact, almost none of the food I’ve tried in the US labeled as Mexican is really Mexican.

    If you wanna try some good real Mexican food in Tokyo, try La Casita in Daikanyama or Salsita in Hiroo. The cook/owner in the latter has lived in Mexico City and definitely knows what he’s doing.

  14. Thanks for the heads up on Frijoles. I am heading there tonight after work.

    I’m fairly biased as I’m good friends with the proprietors, but Junkadelic in Nakameguro has probably the best Mexican food I’ve eaten in Tokyo. It’s definitely not “authentic”, as it doesn’t taste as good as some of the places I used to eat at back in NC, but it’s as good as you’re probably going to get in Tokyo. It’s overpriced and the portions are tiny compared to the huge plates you get in the US, but I don’t eat that much anyway, so it’s fine with me.

    The cook is Peruvian so I’m sure there is some non-Mexican influence there, but oh well.

  15. Not that I necessarily recommend it, but there is also El Tortito between Shinjuku and yoyogi – near the crispy cream (sp?). It is tex mex that is certainly expensive by US standards but less so imo than most of the other choices in tokyo.

    Overall, I’d say it is decent.

    But I agree with justinzaru. Make your own.

  16. By the way, anyone who is near Kichijoji should check out the burritos at Carnival. They are amazing, huge and only ¥400 a pop. Best deal in town.

  17. Yay for burrito joints in Japan, so rare.

    workers always look at me funny whenever I order a burrito and say “No rice” . You know, cause I’m Asian.

    I like meat, beans, potato, cheese, veggies in my burrito, just not rice or soggy peppers. I also don’t like meat that you must chew and rechew. If I’m done swallowing all the other ingredients but the meat is still in my mouth? FAIL.

  18. Ha- if Japanese people only knew how big a market there is for Mexican/Tex-mex among foreigners… do these places not catch on because the food doesn’t fit with the Japanese palette or simply because of poor marketing? The vast majority of Japanese people I’ve talked to have no clue about Mexican/Tex-mex or what it’s supposed to taste like, but anyone I make a quesadilla or guacamole or something for can’t stop raving about how great it is.

    I may have to list up all the recommendations and make a tour or something, but fwiw the best tex-mex I’ve had in Kanto up until this point was in a small place outside of Atsugi Naval Air Facility run by an American from Florida… I believe the name was Mike’s but I could be mistaken.

  19. There’s a few decent Mexican type places in Kyoto actually, and I’ve been to one in Osaka that was quite good although I can’t recall the name right now. And I ate there with two girls from southern California, so they know Mexican food a hell of a lot better than I do. Of course nothing I’ve had in Japan compared with the Mexican I had in San Francisco earlier this year.

    The best I’ve been to I also can’t recall the name of, but it’s located on the second floor on Kiyamachi, I think between Sanjo and Oike, east side of the street. One guy I ate with, who had spent some time in South America, said the flavors were actually more Peruvian than Mexican (I think the owner is a Japanese guy who used to live in Peru), and the dish that stands out in my mind is a “chicken tacos platter”, in which they provide you with an entire herb-roasted half-chicken, a pile of tortillas, and the various veggies and fixings. Really good stuff- in fact now that I’ve been reminded I think I just might go there again this week.

    As for burritos, there’s a stand close to Kyodai that a Japanese hippie chick opened in a vintage VW camper van. They’re all right, but very much on the slender side and far more of a tasty snack than a meal.

  20. I had this conversation with a Japanese-American colleague from LA a few months ago. He remarked: “Most of my Japanese friends think that Mexican food smells like their armpit.”

  21. There’s no good Tex-Mex food in Tokyo that I know of, but there *is* decent Mexican food. La Casita in Daikanyama was mentioned above, and I’ll second that recommendation.

  22. Been to Frijoles twice in the past few days to try both the tacos and the burritos.

    I think the burrito is better than the taco as they don’t have corn tortillas for the tacos, only flour.

    Had both the chicken and the pork, I suggest the pork is better.

    It’s good but the menu is fairly basic right now. I hope they expand the menu a bit and add more drink options. Pricing is ok.

  23. The problem I have with Mexican food in Japan is the price. I don’t wanna pay ¥700 for two tortillas with just a bit of cheddar cheese in the middle and a couple black beans on the side. I’d gladly pay ¥200 for it though. The Mexican food in the states has a lot to do with the price in my opinion. If I go to a decent Mexican restaurant, I can get full on $15 easily ($4-5 if you go to a fast food style place, and I don’t mean Taco Bell).

  24. La Borracha (The Drunkenness) in the Tenjin area of Fukuoka and the sister shop El Boracho (The Drunk) in Daimyo are quite good. The owners and staff are great. I believe the owner lived in Mexico for a lot of years and trained there. I am used to good Tex-Mex from home but this is quite different — more Mexico than Texas. More authentic or so I am told. It’s pricey but worth a visit.

  25. This place near Kokubunji station isn’t too bad; it’s run by a parent of an old schoolmate and a former landlord of mine. When I go back to California I eat at the local tacqueria as often as it’s physically possible to.

  26. While I love Frijoles, I’ve eaten there a total of 5 times,
    and the quality and flavor do not remain consistant.
    And last week, I became deathly I’ll after eating a chicken
    burrito from there, and actually had to cancel
    my travel plans to leave for Bali for a day. This is
    now the second time I’ve eaten there and have gotten
    sick, the first time their sour cream was
    overly sour.
    I’d like to complain to the company, but how do
    I go about doing so?
    L in the Juban

  27. Not here. Try contacting them here.

    Incidentally, I went there two weeks ago and found it pretty good for what it is: a carbon copy of Chipotle with higher prices. They need to speed up the process, though — I had to wait 15 minutes in a line of 5-6 people, which would never happen back in the US.

  28. Tokyo fast food update: Sbarro has been opening new stores lately. One in Kichijoji, and another this past weekend in Shibuya. I noticed Marxy was dismissive, but since there really aren’t any places in Tokyo where you can buy NY style pizza by the slice (is that place in Yokosuka still in business?), and they tend to have a variety of pizzas at any one time, I’m pretty satisfied.

  29. THis place has given me the WORST food poisioning now at least three time, and I am not joking… please eat at your own risk…

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