Anyone who has been to Isla Vista near UC-Santa Barbara knows that the students there famously party hard. Equally famous is Isla Vista’s institution for late-night munchies, Freebirds World Burritos. Founded in 1987, Freebirds aimed to step up the traditional taqueria experience. Slowly, the brand has expanded to Texas and several locations in California, and it has now arrived in San Jose, taking the former location of Baskin-Robbins on the corner of The Alameda and Race Street.

Besides the lengthy lines at the new spot, customers are greeted by a burrito “roller,” who helps them build their meals with a wide choice of ingredients. In addition to tacos and nachos, Freebirds stakes its fame on burritos, offering three sizes: Hybird (its smallest), Freebird and the 7-pound Super Monster.

Burrito customizing begins with flour, corn, spinach or cayenne tortillas. From there, Freebirds supplies more than 20 options for fillings, including two types of rice, three different beans and tasty ingredients such as roasted limes and Freebirds’ death sauce. The meat selections are also notable, as the place uses natural grass-fed beef, hormone-free chicken and tasty slow-roasted pork carnitas.

The fresh ingredients and DIY technique result in a pretty tasty burrito. Yet it couldn’t be ignored that there was a definite feel of corporatized fast food and murmurs of patrons comparing Freebirds to Chipotle could be overheard in the restaurant. Additionally, if you’re dying to try Freebirds because you remember the original from Santa Barbara—go to Santa Barbara. There is no secret menu or secret sauce at this new location. While the shine of a new restaurant in San Jose is hard to ignore, it will be interesting to see how the new corporate version of Freebirds does in a city predominantly served by smaller, more authentic taquerias.

1205 The Alameda, San Jose; 408.293.0103