California Tortilla didn’t move very far—just diagonally across the street—but the Tex-Mex eatery’s new digs on Cordell Avenue look like a more mature relative of the original restaurant started 17 years ago by Pam Felix and Alan Cohen.
The new locale is slated to open tomorrow, October 3, after the Montgomery County health department gives the final okay. Today’s inspection was thwarted by an unexpected loss of hot water, which Felix said was being rectified.
The interior is still funky, but the colors have been toned down, the kitchen is completely open, and the space is 50 percent bigger, with seating for 150 (70 inside, 80 outside). It’s still fast-casual, but a bit more polished.
Fun remains, however, with red, green and yellow hand-blown light bulbs that mimic peppers, and a ceiling lighting fixture that looks like the sun. And not to worry—the restaurant has two brand new Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, the touch screen soda fountain with 125 flavors for making infinite combinations.
Other locations in the chain, which now numbers 37 restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic area, will gradually be renovated to look like the Bethesda prototype.
No changes are afoot for the menu, which offers a fresh selection of burritos, tacos, nachos, salads, quesadillas and more. This location, however, will now be serving beer. And there’s free WiFi.
And bookmark your calendar: For the grand opening on Tuesday, October 9, the restaurant will be giving away a free burrito and soda to each customer, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p..m. to 8 p.m. No beer freebies, of course.
A final note: According to Felix, as of October 2, the chain’s 2012 Presidential Burrito Bowl (you vote with your order—either Obama’s Chicken Teriyaki Luau Bowl, or Romney’s Mexican Mitt-Loaf) has Obama ahead with 53 percent of the orders, Romney with 47 percent.
4871 Cordell Ave. Bethesda. 301-654-8226. www.californiatortilla.com