Yesterday we stopped for lunch at Chimalles Mexican Grill, the new burrito place on Demonbreun. We ordered two fish tacos, one chicken taco and a beef Debraska taco. Our recommendation: Stick with the beef, which was along the lines of pot roast, and load up on the fresh salsa, including mango and pineapple, on the bar at the back of the room.
If I had to guess, I'd wager that the Chimalles team spent a fair amount of time out on Thompson Lane, taking in the details of a longstanding and much-loved little burrito joint. Chimalles is a large store, with a cavernous effect and an echo-y ambiance in the turqouise room with accents of wood and corregated. The oversize paintings of Southwestern icons are cool, and the service, while a little awkward and somewhat thwarted by a language barrier, was generally enthusiastic. We would have enjoyed a little guidance in how to build a fish taco from the many ingredients on the toppings line, but there didn't appear to be any recommended recipe. We had a little of everything, which, generally speaking, was very fresh: cilantro, pink onions, pico, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, corn-and-bean salsa, sour cream, and a mysterious pink cream dressing, which sounded like “wasabi sauce.”
The store is clean and colorful, and the price is right—we clocked out for under $12 for two—but I couldn't help feeling a sense of dislocation, a certain something that I couldn't put my finger on until later. Upon reflection, I realized why I was out of sorts: The buffet line moves from left to right.
Not many places do that. Baja Burrito, for example, moves right to left. Arnold's Country Kitchen, right to left. The bygone Belle Meade Cafeteria, right to left. The newly opened Daily Dish in Franklin is also a righty, as is International Market. Off the top of my head, I can think of only a small handful of left-to-righters, the most notable, perhaps, being Swett's, which, it is worth pointing out, moves right to left at the newer Farmers Market location.
Apparently, I am not an ambidextrous buffet patron. I need my food on my right, where I can use the full force of my strength and coordination to grab it and wrestle it into submission. On the other hand, so to speak, I acknowledge there's a whole world of left-handers who benefit from this world-turned-upside-down-and-backward model. (I just called—Chimalles owner Jeff Ponchillia is, in fact, a lefty.) But as the dining industry moves increasingly toward specialization, with niche restaurants for every subset of appetite--vegan, raw-foodist or low-carb, to name a few—maybe the next step is to segregate based on the dominant hand.
We righties will keep our Arnold's and Baja, and at least we can get our Swett's at the Farmers Market. As for Chimalles, I guess we'll have to leave it to the lefties.