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Cilantro, Northport: First bites

A burrito bowl starring barbacoa at the new

A burrito bowl starring barbacoa at the new Cilantro in Northport (March 2013) Credit: Newsday / Joan Reminick

The new Cilantro Mexican Inspired Food in Northport has been up and running for about a month now. Under the same ownership as the nearby Nina’s Pizzeria, the space — which last housed The Original Kasper's Hot Dogs — was conceived to run in the manner of Chipotle Mexican Grill. Order a burrito, a tortilla-free burrito bowl, tacos, fajita or salad at the counter, pick a protein and add some toppings. Prices are gentle, with nothing higher than $7.99.

On a recent visit, just about every booth was taken. The two well-intentioned  young people behind the counter seemed a bit at a loss to keep things flowing smoothly.

I ended up getting a burrito “bowl” featuring barbacoa — slow cooked shredded spiced beef that tasted, mainly, of cinnamon. I had originally ordered carnitas — shredded pork — but there was almost none left in the tray behind the counter, so I opted for the beef over brown rice; I also got pinto beans, peppers and onions, roasted chili-corn salsa and salsa fresca. While good, the plate wasn’t on the level of its equivalent at Chipotle. The flavorful but dry grilled chicken breast pieces on top of a salad my dining companion got had me longing for the reliably moist dark meat served at you-know-which popular chain. 

A sign posted on the window outside says the eatery has put in an application for more seating. That would help. So, too, would an owner or manager on premises.

Cilantro Mexican Inspired Food is at 40 Woodbine Ave., Northport, 631-651-9377.

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