BEST HOMEGROWN CHAIN Denver 2006 - Chipotle
Readers' Choice: Chipotle
Steve Ell's little-burrito-chain-that-could has come a long way in the dozen years since it opened its first outlet at 1644 West Evans Avenue -- all the way to Wall Street, where it raised $45 million on its first day of public trading this year. En route, Ells entered into a partnership with (read: sale to) McDonald's, making Chipotle another chain restaurant in a world that's already more or less owned by chains. But in this case, bigger is better: How else are the good people of Minnesota, Georgia or New Hampshire going to learn what a great burrito is supposed to taste like? Better Chipotle than Taco Bell. Better Chipotle than McDonald's, even. For that matter, better Chipotle than 99 percent of the mom-and-pop stores rolling burritos here in Denver, Colorado.