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Chipotle testing “Sofritas” tofu in Fresno

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Chipotle’s Sofritas is served in a burrito here. Photo courtesy of Chipotle.

I never thought I’d say this sentence, but I have more tofu news! In addition to the tofu vs. bacon throwdown Josh wrote about, Fresno is a test market for Chipotle’s new “Sofritas” tofu. All the Chipotle restaurants in the Fresno area are now carrying Sofritas, which can be used in place of meat in a taco, burrito or bowl. The test started in the Bay Area and will soon be expanded to the rest of California.

What is Sofritas? It’s “artisan tofu” made in Oakland that is seared and ground like sausage, and roasted with chipotle chiles, poblanos and spices. I’ve tried it and liked it (No, they didn’t pay me to say that.  I bought my burrito). It’s got a definite kick. They’ll give you a little spoonful sample at the restaurant if you ask. Anyone tried it? I’m curious to know what you think of it. Feel free to share in the comments.

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold says the test is going pretty well so far and the company might be expanding it. Chipotle wanted to create something that is vegetarian and vegan friendly, but something that has crossover appeal for meat eaters as well, he says.

Fresno State Chipotle opens today

Students can get their burrito fix starting today as the new Chipotle at Cedar and Shaw avenues opens.

The popular restaurant chain is in the same shopping center as Uncle Harry’s and Jamba Juice. It took quite a few months to get this location — the former The Big Swirl and The Big Cheese frozen yogurt and grilled cheese shop — looking like a Chipotle.

Here’s betting the chain with an emphasis sustainably raised food that once had ties with McDonalds does well at that location. Chipotle has a history of succeeding near colleges, with its first one just steps from the University of Denver campus.

“Students are really big Chipotle fans and customers for us,” says spokesman Chris Arnold.

Chipotle is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
Details: here.

Fres-Know: Bacon. Look, we put bacon in the headline

KICKSTART: Benaddiction, a breakfast food truck for Fresno. [Kickstarter]

COMING SOON: A Color Me Rad 5K to Fresno. [Color Me Rad]

YUM: Summer eats to cool you down. [TasteFresno]

GOOD READ: The story of a 90-year-old ex-rodeo clown from Sanger. [The Bee]

LISTEN: Latest Dorktown podcast with Quiet Americans. [The Fresnan]

LOOK AT THIS: The last remaining local drive-in movie theaters. [The Bee]

FRESH: Fresno Grizzlies jerseys/caps for “Super Hero Night” [Facebook]

WORD: From Fresno hater to Fresno lover. [Fresno Guerilla Foodism]

BLOGGINGS: “Why I LOVE Downtown Fresno” [Fresno Chamber]

SPORTS: Fresno State slugger wins college home run derby. [The Bee]

NICE: Twee Boutique’s Fresno tote bags. [Facebook]

SPOTTED: Chipotle coming to Shaw and Cedar. [My Instagram]

Firefighters and kids: a winning combo

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The scene: Chipotle in Fig Garden, the day after the 4th of July, with me corralling my visiting family into a brisk early lunch so they can get on the road back to the coast. We’re sitting at the big circular table, the one closest to where you order. My two nephews, 5 and 7, tackle quesadillas and watch people in line.

The nice guys: a big group of Fresno firefighters, in burly blue, on a break. They stand there, talking and joshing with each other, likely relieved that the hectic pace of the holiday has given way to a saner Monday.

The moment: one of the firefighters, noticing my nephews, interrupts his conversation, opens his wallet, takes out two shiny gold stickers and presents them to both boys.

The prize: My nephews eagerly peer at the stickers, which are identical gold badges that read: “JUNIOR FIREFIGHTER, City of Fresno Fire Department.”

The reaction: Pure delight. After lunch, the older one (pictured above), said, “The food here was just OK, but at least I got THIS,” clutching his sticker. (A future restaurant critic, that one.).

Awww. Thanks, fire people. You’re pretty cool.