Thomas Jefferson

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Lunch Lingo

Posted 05/15/2024 by Ben Hartley

TJ Senior Saben Snyder savors a Chiptole burrito during lunch. photo by Ben Hartley

Considering next year’s schedule changes at TJ, off campus lunch will become a privilege reserved for 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. 

With so many restaurants near TJ, deciding where to go during lunch can be a tough decision. There are many factors that a hungry high school student must consider before making such a momentous decision for the day. Fortunately, I have created a tiered list of the finest dining establishments in the area for those looking to throw their money away on overly processed goodness. Keep in mind, these rankings are based on taste, price, serving size, accessibility, and of course, my heavily biased opinion. 


A-Tier: Chipotle and Chick-Fil-A 

I begin this review with potentially the most frequented lunch destination for TJ students: Chipotle. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy the immense taste and size of a well-wrapped burrito, or the crunch of a sublimely salted chip. However, Chiptole’s efficiency is what truly earns the most points in my eyes. Even with a line to the door, I’m guaranteed to have my food in less than ten minutes. Over the course of the school year, my average wait time at Chipotle has been roughly three minutes. Moreover, I feel confident in my decision to spend money at Chipotle. For $10, I know my stomach will remain satisfied for the next few hours. The average burrito at Chipotle contains approximately 1085 – 1550 calories, making its Calorie Per Dollar (CPD) quite substantial. Additionally, Chipotle can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. An ancient Mayan proverb once stated, “The way a person eats Chipotle determines their admittance into the afterlife.” It’s true – look it up. There are those who prefer the classic comfort of a burrito. There are those that prefer to pinch a soft taco. There are even those like myself who take a more primal approach, using my hands to scoop the contents of a bowl into a warm tortilla. My only critique of Chipotle is their corporate greed; I’m sure I’m not the only person who has noticed the increasingly smaller portions of protein being handed out. Regardless, Chipotle easily assumes a position in the A-tier. 

The next establishment earning itself a spot in the A-tier is Chick-Fil-A. First of all, chicken contains the most protein out of any meat (this is also true, I looked it up). In my opinion, Chick-Fil-A has better fries than the majority of fast food chains, especially when dipped into a packet of sauce containing more calories than a five course meal. I’m not quite sure what Chick-Fil-A does to their chickens to make it taste so good, but I’m certainly not complaining. The price of Chick-Fil-A is neither cheap nor unreasonably expensive. It’s also worth mentioning that Chick-Fil-A has a stellar breakfast menu for those who are planning on ditching class! The restaurant’s most prominent quality has to be the customer service. I’m no conspiracy theorist, but I think all Chick-Fil-A employees are required to attend brainwashing seminars. Just imagine a room full of red, collared shirts staring at a cow repeating the phrase “my pleasure.” But seriously, Chick-Fil-A’s customer service is like no other. They are always polite, helpful, and efficient. In fact, one of the Chick-Fil-A employees has officially memorized my name – shoutout to my dawg Nay. The only downside of going to Chick-Fil-A during lunch is how crowded it can be. Nevertheless, Chick-Fil-A rightfully earns itself a spot in the A-tier. 


B-Tier: In-N-Out and Bird Call 

This may be a controversial take, but as far as I’m concerned, In-N-Out falls into the B-Tier range. Don’t get me wrong, In-N-Out is delicious, possibly even better than Chipotle and Chick Fil A. However, the closest location is adjacent to the Park Meadows mall in Lone Tree, which takes about ten to sixteen minutes to get to (depending on how fast you drive). For this reason, In-N-Out scores relatively low in the accessibility category. Additionally, it’s always extremely busy during lunchtime. A trip to In-N-Out often ends with me getting a tardy pass. However, I truly do admire the work rate of an In-N-Out employee. When I’m waiting for my food, I often zone out watching them cook as if they were avatars in Sims. A double-cheeseburger, animal style fries, and a milkshake makes for one of the best fast food meals in town. Something about tearing up a burger with the homies brings a tear of joy to my eyes. 

Birdcall is the second restaurant I’ll be placing in the B-tier. When Birdcall first moved into the Happy Canyon shopping center, I was quite skeptical. It seemed like an attempt to gentrify the chicken sandwich (just joking by the way). The first few times I ate Birdcall, I genuinely hated it. After a while, it began to grow on me. Now, I’d argue that Birdcall has some of the freshest chicken in the Denver Metro area. I’d go as far to say that Birdcall has better sauce than Raising Canes. The fries, tenders, sandwiches, and tater tots at Birdcall are all pretty good. Birdcall is also very accessible for TJ students by foot, bike, or car. The one true downside of Birdcall is the cost. They even charge fifty cents for a container of sauce only partially filled. Why did you have to let me down Bird Call? 


C-Tier: Raising Cane’s and Jimmy Johns

I’ll preface this by stating that the restaurants in the C-Tier are not bad by any means. I just don’t consider them to be the best options to visit during lunch. The first restaurant that falls under this ranking is Raising Cane’s. Without a boatload of sauce, Cane’s tastes incredibly bland. Besides, Cane’s only tastes good after 10 p.m.. I’ll admit that I’m an avid cole slaw fan, but the Cane’s slaw is filled with sugar. Nobody wants a cabbage dessert. Additionally, Cane’s is slightly more expensive than Chick-Fil-A, making the restaurant C-Tier in my mind. 

The final restaurant resting in the C-Tier ranking is Jimmy Johns. The slogan, “freaky fast” is no gimmick. A sandwich at Jimmy John’s is typically ready before you have a chance to sit down. This makes it convenient for lunch. When visiting Jimmy Johns, I’m never stressed about being late to the 6th period. As far as taste, Jimmy John’s is both fresh and filling. However, I’ll admit that Jimmy John’s bread to sandwich ratio is subpar; it feels like I’m eating more carbs than protein. Furthermore, the flavor profile of Jimmy Johns isn’t nearly as good as sandwich shops such as Cheba Hut, Snarfs, Which Wich, and Jersey Mikes. In conclusion, I honestly couldn’t care less where you choose to spend your money at lunch. I hope my rankings have either helped you or stirred up a certain rage in your heart.