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Matt Kettmann

BBQ Chicken Burrito @ Freebirds

Authentic Flavors from Those Good Old Isla Vista Days


If you’re like me, there’s a certain glimmer — some may call it a haze — to those college days of Isla Vista in the 1990s, when you could do whatever you wanted in Anisq’Oyo’ Park (in front of the cops!) while jam bands played and wander Del Playa without worry so long as your cup was upside down. And amid many sensory memories — the slight stank served alongside burgers at Isla Vista Brewing Co., the greasy cheese-meats of New York Hero House, the crisp bacon and cool lettuce of a Javan’s #10 sandwich — one stands the test of time (and is still actually served): Freebirds’ BBQ Chicken Burrito, once the calling card of this national chain that was founded in I.V. in 1987. (This location isn’t part of that chain, apparently.)

Today’s Gauchos probably have no idea that this was once the primary way to ingest these pick-your-ingredient burritos, nor may they realize that the now super-popular monster-sized nachos weren’t even on the menu way back when. And I’m all for low-carb options, but let’s not get started on the “bowls.”

For those in the know, or at least in the nostalgia, the star is still that somewhat sweet, slightly spicy, always savory sauce sensation of yesteryear. Throw in some chunk chicken, pinto beans, yellow cheese, and whatever else you like, and let your taste buds keg-stand like it’s 1999.

879 Embarcadero del Norte; (805) 968-0123; freebirdsislavista.com

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