by Kelly Wetherille

As office workers looking for a quick yet healthy lunch grew more and more bored with the likes of Subway, deli-style burrito joints became the latest thing across the US. And now that trend has come to Tokyo with Frijoles, nestled on a side street between Azabu Juban’s two main shopping streets. Although newly opened, the casual eatery is already popular with the area’s international community, with streams of diners entering hungry and leaving satisfied all throughout the day.

The philosophy of Frijoles is that it’s not fast food, but “great-tasting real food, served fast.” Upon entering the restaurant customers place their orders with the bilingual staff from behind a glass partition. Large flour tortillas are heated for each individual order, before being stuffed full of fresh, flavorful ingredients. Basic choices for both burritos and tacos include grilled chicken, seasoned pork, steak and vegetarian, which is then topped with any combination of rice, beans, salsa, cheese, sour cream, and romaine lettuce.

On a recent Saturday visit I opted for a grilled chicken burrito with all the fixings (a reasonable ¥800), accompanied by an order of chips and salsa (only ¥100 when ordered with the burrito). The burrito was as large and filling as any you’d find Stateside, and the adobo chicken had just the right combination of spices. Frijoles has four varieties of homemade salsa from which to choose: fresh tomato (mild), roasted chile-corn (mild), green chile-tomatillo (medium), and red arbol chile (hot). When I chose the red arbol the woman behind the counter warned me that it was “very, very, very hot.” I went ahead anyway, and was somewhat disappointed to learn that this was one area in which Frijoles seemed to cater more to the Japanese palate—my desensitized taste buds could barely detect the spiciness of the sauce. Not to worry, though, as numerous bottles of hot sauce populated the counter alongside the forks and knives. Apparently, I was not the first diner to want an extra little kick, and I was happy to see that Frijoles is able to cater to all tastes.

Open daily (11am–10pm)
2-3-5 Azabu Juban, Minato-ku
Tel: 03-6459-4095

Photo credits: Photo courtesy of Frijoles