Monday, August 13, 2012

Chef Tito is taking on Chipotle, one burrito at a time

Chef Tito is taking aim at Chipotle with his latest restaurant.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Chef Tito hopes to be serving tacos, burritos and other Mexican street favorites at his new restaurant this month.
  • Chef Tito hopes to be serving tacos, burritos and other Mexican street favorites at his new restaurant this month.

It doesn't matter that there's a Chipotle — a busy one — directly across the street from the new fast-casual concept that Chef Tito Le Chef (the larger-than-life persona of restaurateur Basilio Dios) is opening next week (if all goes according to plan, which it almost never does) at 1710 West 39th Street. Last year, this narrow storefront was occupied by the Rock-N-Moroccan restaurant; Fat City wrote about Chef Tito's plans for the space last April.

The serving line (with a curved glass screen that still has the Subway logo on it; Chef Tito got it for a song) is nearly complete. When the Latin Bistro Express officially opens for business, patrons will move down the line, selecting a tortilla (either a 13-inch flour tortilla, a 5.5-inch corn tortilla, or a torta bun baked for Tito at a Belton bakery) and one of 15 different kinds of meat. Even beef tongue. "But we'll only have tongue on weekends," Tito says.

The meat selection will include carne asada, chorizo, pork and chicken. There will be beans and vegetables for meatless eaters and a selection of cold Jarritos sodas, as well as fountain drinks and iced tea. Latin Bistro Express will serve breakfast burritos in the morning, and during the rest of the day and evening, tortas, tacos, burritos and quesadillas.

The front of the restaurant will have seating for 25 customers, but Tito believes that most of his customers, particularly the late-night eaters, will take their meals to go. Latin Bistro Express will be open seven days a week, Tito says, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Weekend hours will be from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.

"We'll see how that goes," Tito says. "But I think the early morning business is out there. And I want to be open when other places on the block are closed."

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