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TACOS FOR ART

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Wherever they open a new store, the folks behind Chipotle Mexican Grill do something special.

Last year, when they opened on St. Marks Place in the East Village, Chipotle gave away free burritos. On July 29, in honor of the opening of their first Brooklyn store - on Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights - the fresh-ingredient, fast-food Mexican eatery will throw a fundraiser to benefit the Brooklyn Arts Council.

The event will take place from 6 pm to 9 pm. A donation of $5 at the door buys you a large burrito (and they are large!) and a drink. All the proceeds collected go to support the Brooklyn Arts Council’s performing and visual arts programs, which serve 100,000 students.

Chipotle, named for the dried and smoked jalapeno pepper, will open for regular business in Brooklyn Heights on Friday, July 30. Pictured at left is New York area manager Randy Sullivan.

If you’re rolling your eyes at the thought of another corporate chain outlet on Montague Street, there are a few things you should know. Chipotle (pronounced chi-POAT’-lay) uses the same ingredients better restaurants demand - Niman Ranch all-natural pork, Bell & Evans chickens, Meyer Ranch all-natural beef and Haas avocados in its 350-plus locations. Ten percent of their beans are organic (they hope to add more organic beans soon, according to Chipotle spokeswoman Katherine Newell Smith).

McDonald’s now owns 90-percent of the 11-year-old, Denver-based chain, but Chipotle, which has earned kudos from food critics across the country for its four kinds of salsa, and for the vegetarian and free-range meat fillings that pack the massive, 20-ounce burritos, bears little resemblance to the hamburger chain. Every burrito and taco is made to order and adheres to founder Steve Ells’ philosophy: Use simple ingredients to make complex tasting food in a setting that adds to the dining experience. While all Chhipotle restaurants use similar materials for a sparse, clean, urban look, no two are alike. Chipotle uses existing space rather than building from the ground up to achieve a neighborhood feel for each restaurant.

Chipotle Mexican Grill (185 Montague St. between Court and Clinton streets in Brooklyn Heights) accepts Visa, MasterCard and American Express. Entrees: $5.95-$6.75. The restaurant will be open daily from 11 am to 10 pm. For further information, call (718) 243-9109.

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