Palo Alto has anything but a shortage of Mexican eateries to dine at. So many, in fact, that the restaurants almost blend into one another. However, Freebirds takes a refreshing rock ‘n roll twist on the classic design-your-own burrito bar. Originally established near the beaches of Santa Barbara, Freebirds, named after Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit song “Free Bird,” embodies a relaxed sixties vibe.
To add to its sixties vibe, Freebirds plays rock and alternative music; the restaurant offers an eclectic playlist filled with throwbacks and new jams that replace the overrated mainstream music plaguing the majority of mainstream radio stations.
The restaurant’s rocker interpretation of the Statue of Liberty, found in all Freebirds franchises, also contributes to its rebellious vibe. Every representation is designed to highlight Freebirds’ motto: freedom of choice. In the Palo Alto location, “Libby” is found hanging from the ceiling riding a Harley motorcycle.
As Freebirds is a restaurant, food obviously outweighs atmosphere. And, when it comes to food, Freebirds neither makes nor breaks it. Although Freebirds offers some options that cannot be found at your local Chipotle, the overall diversity of the ingredients is mediocre.
Freebirds operates similarly to Chipotle in that the patron can personalize his order. With a choice of cayenne pepper, spinach, flour or wheat tortilla, the number of ways to build a burrito seems almost endless. The sense of power that a patron may feel when given total control over what he puts in his dish further reflects the restaurant’s theme of freedom.
The Freebird chicken burrito ($6.79) includes Freebirds’ chicken in particular, giving the patron the option between dark meat, light meat or a mixture, perfect for picky eaters. In addition the patron can select rice, cheese, salsa, etc. based on preference. Having the ability to hand pick ingredients can come at a price as it can sometimes be difficult to balance flavors; for example choosing cilantro rice with jack cheese and the mild salsa is too bland for most people and if one is not educated in what ingredients work together the burrito can easily go astray and end up mediocre.
The meat choices Freebirds offers includes steak, chicken and carnitas. However, for vegetarians, the options are quite limited.
The Veggie Burrito Bowl ($6.49) features Freebirds’ lightly spiced guacamole. Because the burrito bowl is built accordingly to the patron’s personal preferences, the guacamole should have been the spotlight of the dish. Despite this, the guacamole’s presentation was unappetizing; it was squirted out of syringe-like bottle and had a texture so smooth that it resembled paste—a misleading reality that contrasted with the restaurant’s claim of having freshly-made guacamole. But if the aesthetically displeasing characteristic of the guacamole is ignored, the guacamole adds a greatly-needed oomph to the dish’s flavor palette.
The veggie bowl consists of Spanish rice, Jack cheese, black beans, lettuce and various other toppings. Despite the diversity of the toppings added, the bowl’s overall flavor is bland, perhaps due to the lack of seasonings in the individual ingredients.
True to the restaurant’s theme, there were a number of toppings and bases that allowed the patron to take full liberty in deciding how to customize the veggie bowl.
From unique choices of Spanish or cilantro rice to deciding among three types of beans, freedom clearly prevails in almost every aspect of Freebirds.
Despite the other restaurants that offer Mexican food in Palo Alto, Freebirds is definitely worth looking into. The restaurant’s decor and concept was pleasing and impressive and the employees were upbeat and eager to please.
However, the actual dishes were more of a disappointment; they could have used more flavor in order to set its food apart from other mediocre eateries.