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Published: Thursday March 6, 2014 MYT 2:55:00 PM
Updated: Thursday March 6, 2014 MYT 3:04:00 PM

World's biggest Chipotle in Paris

A Chipotle burrito. - Chipotle/AFP

A Chipotle burrito. - Chipotle/AFP

Mexican fare becoming increasingly popular although French palate still chilli-averse.

CHIPOTLE will be opening its largest restaurant in Paris in April, with a location that will be triple the size of the chain’s typical eatery.

Set to open in the city’s business district of La Défense in the northwest end of Paris, Chipotle’s third Parisian outpost will span 7,000sqft (650sqm) and seat about 150 people.

A typical Chipotle restaurant is between 2,200 and 2,500sqft (between 204 and 232sqm).

A typical Chipotle restaurant in the US. It's much smaller than the 150-seater one to be opened in Paris. – Chipotle/AFP

The latest opening in the City of Light is part of the company’s ongoing strategy to focus on three key markets: France, Britain, and Germany, said Damon Biggins, market manager for France and Germany.

Meanwhile, though Biggins says the company didn’t set out specifically to look for the biggest restaurant in Paris, the opening comes as the spicy, punchy flavours of Mexican cuisine are gaining mainstream popularity in a city and gastronomic culture famous for being spice-averse.

“When we first opened in France, everyone told me we had to back off on the spice,” Biggins said in an interview with Relaxnews.

Local consultants warned him that the French palate wouldn’t take kindly to the spice-infused flavours of salsas and chilli peppers.

“But our most popular salsa is medium-hot,” he said. “A large part of why we’ve been successful is because of the ethnic flavours, if you will, and the nuanced, depth of flavours.”

Indeed, Mexican fare has seen a growth in popularity thanks to what started out as an underground foodie trend, driven largely by expats.

American-Canadian entrepreneur Jordan Feilders popularized tacos a few years ago when he launched Cantine California, a food truck that was seen as a novelty in Paris and developed a cult following among the hip, foodie crowd.

The success of Cantine California led to a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, Le Depanneur, which is repeatedly cited as one of the city’s trendier addresses. Recently, the restaurant fed Kanye West, while Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard also paid a visit to the food truck.

Another Mexican address popular among the city’s hipster bobo (French for “bohemian bourgeois”) crowd is El Nopal, a hole-in-the-wall eatery in the 10th arrondissement that serves up authentic Mexican burritos and tacos for lines of fashionable foodies. – AFP Relaxnews

The third Chipotle location will open in the square of La Défense between McDonald’s and Sephora and is slated to open in April. – AFP

Tags / Keywords: Lifestyle, Chipotle restaurant, Paris

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