Freebirds, We Need To Talk

My race car was built on Sweet Leaf tea and Freebirds burritos. This is the absolute best combination in the universe: the sweetness of the tea balances out the spiciness of the burrito, and all is well. Now you’ve swapped the Sweet Leaf with a less sweet tea vendor, and no sir, I don’t like it. Change it back. Now.

Look, Freebirds, you’ve been making some questionable decisions lately. First, you got rid of my poblano salsa, which was one of the most delicious add-ons that you could ever put in a vaguely Cali-Tex-Mex-ish chain burrito. You’ve hence come up with neato seasonal salsas that are sometimes great (the current roasted salsa) and sometimes not (the failed attempt at a Salsa Doña clone that was just odd, gloopy, and heinously over-garlicked), so it’s almost a draw there.


Then, you redesigned the menu. No more tie-dye. No more “pot brownies” jokes or labels on the brownies that were cooked in a pot (allegedly). No more Super Monster on the menu. What is this, Chipotle?

Granted, you recently did a cool thing by adding tempeh calabacitas to the menu so that vegans can now experience rectum-scorching burritos that actually have tasty protein. Rejoice, non-meat-eating types, and come eat burritos with the rest of us.

You also moved your headquarters to Austin from California, which is pretty awesome. Both locations are equally offending to aggies who [falsely] claim Freebirds as “theirs” just because they had the first location in Texas. While the HQ hasn’t sponsored any local 944 race cars yet (boooooo), I must welcome our new burrito-providing neighbors.

But the latest change is near-unforgivable: a swap in tea vendors.

See, Sweet Leaf is good. It fit Freebirds’ Austin move well: this delicious sugary tea company is also based here in town, and gained a huge following at local events like SXSW. It’s Austin to the very core, and forgoing them for a different vendor is farting in the general direction of the location to which you have moved.


It’s also a good fit for the state where Freebirds has many outlets: Texas. One friend who works in natural foods claimed that he couldn’t give Sweet Leaf away up north, but it was super-popular down south. We like sugary tea. Deal with it.

The tea in its place is Honest Tea, another crunchy all-natural feel-good tea vendor. Problem is, Honest Tea isn’t very sweet. It’s good, but it’s nowhere near the fitting companion for a big burrito that Sweet Leaf was—especially in Austin! There’s not even a peach tea anymore, and peach tea is the best.


If all of these changes are the result of Freebirds trying to move away from its image as unhealthy munchies, I have some stern advice for the now-local company: please don’t.

We love you because you’re not Chipotle. Chipotle, for the record, sucks. The ethical sourcing angle they’ve got is neat. The food itself is a bunch of gross sodium-bombs dressed up in crunchy packaging with too few choices for burrito fillings. This happy cow meat might’ve been delicious if four tons of salt wasn’t dropped onto it at Chipotle, and what kind of a two-bit operation doesn’t even have queso? Terrible.


Please, Freebirds, stop taking away delicious burrito-filling choices and trying to go all healthy on us by taking away our beloved sweet tea. This is Texas. That plan will fail. Embrace thy munchie-addled image. You’ve moved to a town that has a giant statue of Willie Nelson, so round brownies-from-a-pot gags and tie dye kitsch won’t offend us. And keep adding delicious things to the menu. Choices are good! We like tons of choices in our frankenburritos, which is why we’re not at Chipotle instead.


But most of all, bring the Sweet Leaf tea back. Burritos need sugar: fact. Why on earth do you think Mexican Cokes do so well at taco trucks?! It’s certainly not because we’re worried about the ‘beetus.

Contact the author via burrito cannon, and burrito cannon only.

Also, read more Foodlopnik.

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