Things are looking up in the Shuangjing neighborhood now that spring has arrived. Along with bales of fluffy pollen and gale-force winds, the well-regarded local Chipotle knockoff The Avocado Tree has blown into the neighborhood, with their fourth Beijing location opening a postage-stamp sized outlet about 500 meters west of The Brick.

Those familiar with the Avocado Tree will find much the same line up of burritos, tacos, salads, and juices the place is known for at its other locations in Sanyuanqiao, Pinnacle Plaza, and out near WAB.

It's an upgrade for sure for Shuangjingers who have had to make do with long-distance delivery from Sherpas and the like or settle for Lily's take on burritos when seeking a Mexican fix.

The simplicity of Avocado Tree's model is based around four main meats (chicken, shredded beef, steak, and shredded pork) that can be shoved into chewy tortillas, crisp taco shells or heaped on a plate alongside black beans, rice, lettuce, salsa, cheese, and guacamole.

Really the make or break element of a business like this is fourfold:

1. Are the ingredients authentic (they are indeed).
2. Can they keep the place clean (so far, so good).
3. Can they do enough business to keep the food fresh? (Fresh enough for now, but only time will tell).
4. Can they keep items in stock? (Early hiccups indicate "no," but this too will take time to tell).

As a brand new, brightly-lit eatery they get high points for cleanliness. I tried the place twice over the weekend and found the food fresh both times, though on my second visit they were out of the shredded beef and grilled steak entries.

The burritos I tried were fantastic in terms of flavor, but on the small side compared to what you'd get at a Chipotle. Pricing is fair (RMB 26-39) though an extra RMB 6 for shredded cheese and RMB 15 for guacamole is highway robbery.

In other Shuangjing news, The Brick is launching a second establishment two doors down from its original, this one called The Brick Taproom. So far the unopened interior looks almost identical to the original and word is that they'll have craft beers and an extended menu on offer.

These recent developments plus the addition of neighbor Seoul Snack (which serves Korean instant noodles, rice cakes and Korean-style roast chicken in a small, brightly-lit dining room) is making Shuangjing a lot less monotonous for the coming summer.

Photos: Michael Wester


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