Yet another addition to the growing list of fast casual eateries in downtown Bethesda, Boloco will open its doors on Thursday, July 19th. I had a chance to take a sneak peak at this Boston-based burrito company last night, and Boloco already seems like a great addition to the neighborhood.
When you walk into Boloco, you have the choice of either ordering from staff at the counter or placing your order at a computer kiosk. The general concept is “globally inspired burritos”, and you have the option of choosing the type of burrito or bowl you want, and then adding your protein. The choices range from Buffalo to Tikka Masala to Bangkok Thai, and you can pair them with chicken, steak, carnitas, tofu, or fajita veggies.
When you think burritos, you generally think Mexican, but there is only one traditional option listed. We were told last night that there is also an off-the-menu option called the Yucatan Habanero, which consists of pickled onions, black beans, sour cream, boloco rice, and hot habanero salsa. Apparently you can add that salsa to any burrito as well. There are also cold options, such as the Mediterranean, which features hummus, black bean hummus, feta cheese, and cucumbers. And, if you really just want to make your own, you can pick the tortilla, protein, base of rice or lettuce, beans, sauces, veggies, and cheese.
I was overwhelmed enough looking at the menu, and was assured that the staff can recommend which protein goes best with which burrito. Speaking of options, there are also sizes to think about. You can get the original, which is about the size of what you would get at Chipotle, the small, which is about 2 inches smaller, or the mini, which is more of a snack then an actual meal. You can also get a mini bundle of two different burritos, being able to mix and match different choices.
In addition to their main line of burritos, Boloco also offers sides of chips and guacamole or salsa, desserts, and an extensive menu of smoothies and shakes. I tried several of them, and my favorites were the Mango Passion, the Nutella Milkshake, and the Jimmy Carter shake of peanut butter, banana, and ice cream. You really can’t go wrong with those ingredients. Those again come in an original, small, and mini size.
Considering that the space used to be a Baja Fresh, the look itself is impressive. As you head towards the bathrooms, you can read the story of how Boloco came to be. They started out as a wrap company with numerous chains throughout the Boston area, but eventually changed the name after market research showed that people began to have a negative connotation with wraps. So essentially to get a better idea of what this place offers, think warm and cold wrap sandwiches instead of another Chipotle or Qdoba, since that’s really what it is. There is also wonderful artwork in the bathrooms showing different scenes in Boston, but even better are the two pieces of artwork right by the order counter by a local artist showing downtown Bethesda. One illustrates the Metro entrance while the other is of people going up and down the Metro escalator.
The concept itself reminds me of Cava Grill where you can build your meal, and they also have adopted green practices by offering options for recycling and composting. They have a passion of giving to local communities, and have specials each month where if you order certain items, a dollar of the proceeds goes to the charity Bethesda Green. I can definitely see myself either getting a small burrito, or getting a mini burrito and a mini smoothie and turning that into a meal. The prices are fairly reasonable, or at least on par with the other comparable establishments in Bethesda. This is their first location outside of New England, and other locations are planned this year for Dupont Circle and Georgetown.