Friday, January 18, 2013

News: Chipotle to Test Tofu as an Option

Chipotle is planning to test a braised, shredded tofu filling as a protein option next month out in San Francisco according to this AP story. They're calling it "Sofritas" and it's cooked similar to the chain's barbacoa.

Now before you go thinking that's some Mexican dish you never heard of, it's not. While it is indeed an actual Spanish word (it's the past participle of "sofreir" meaning "to fry lightly"), Chipotle has filed a trademark registration for the word as a mark for "prepared vegetable-based entrees." There's a bit of irony there since the tofu will be braised and not fried. There's also the similar "sofrito" which is a base of slow-fried or simmered aromatics in Spanish cuisine.

I'm curious as to how they arrived at the term. What's wrong with just calling it "tofu" like they have "steak" and "chicken."

The tofu will be braised with tomatoes, chipotle sauce, and poblano peppers. Compare that to the barbacoa which is beef braised with chipotle pepper adobo sauce, cumin, cloves, garlic, and oregano.

If the test goes well, expect it to expand to other markets. If successfully added to the menu, tofu would be Chipotle's second vegetarian option after their "Vegetarian" option which features vegetarian black beans and guacamole for protein.

Update 2/2/13: Sofritas will be served at the following SF Bay area Chipotle locations starting February 12, 2013: 525 Market in San Francisco; 121 Fourth St. in San Francisco; 126 New Montgomery in San Francisco; 2019 Chess Drive in San Mateo; 251 East 3rd Ave. in San Mateo; 180 El Camino Real in Palo Alto; and 135 El Camino Real in Millbrae.

The supplier for the tofu is Hodo Soy, a local supplier known for their organic and artisanally produced tofu.

Here's a look at Sofritas if you're curious:

Update 4/14/13: Chipotle has expanded the Sofritas test to all Northern California locations.

Update 5/21/13: Sofritas will be offered at all California locations starting June 3
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