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Posted at 03:25 PM ET, 09/15/2011

Chipotle spinoff ShopHouse opens in Dupont

ShopHouse, the new Southeast Asian eatery from Chipotle CEO Steve Ells, opened north of Dupont Circle today. (Jess Righthand)
With more than 1,000 locations in North America and the United Kingdom, most of us are exceedingly familiar with Chipotle’s colossal mountains of Mexican deliciousness.

But at least for the foreseeable future, ShopHouse Southeast Asian Kitchen — the brand new brainchild of Chipotle CEO Steve Ells that just opened today — has only one location: Dupont Circle.

Chicken and pork meatballs, right, are one of the meat offerings at ShopHouse. (Jess Righthand)
The new fast-casual concept has the same pick-and-choose style of Chipotle: Choose either a banh mi sandwich or a rice bowl, with your choice of chicken satay, tofu, steak or chicken and pork meatballs. The sandwiches are topped with green papaya slaw, herbs and crushed peanuts, while the rice bowls offer your choice of veggies, sauces, toppings and garnishes. Early favorite toppings include those with the word “spicy” in them: spicy red curry sauce, spicy charred corn and the even spicier long beans.

By around noon, the crowds at today’s opening were modest compared to, say, the line out the door at Shake Shack’s opening . But while Shake Shack’s arrival was hyped to the max, ShopHouse’s opening date was a more closely-held secret.

Patrons wait to order lunch on opening day at ShopHouse. (Alex Baldinger - TWP)
Located next to BGR: The Burger Joint at 1516 Connecticut Ave., NW, the eatery is a take on traditional Southeast Asian “shophouses,” narrow two- or three-story buildings with a small restaurant or market downstairs and the owner’s residence upstairs. ShopHouse’s decor is clean and minimalist, with an infusion of faux rusticity in the rugged white walls and bare, dangling energy-efficient light bulbs.

The official word is that Ells wants to see how the Dupont restaurant fares before deciding whether to add new locations. But if ShopHouse gets anywhere near the traffic of your neighborhood Chipotle, who knows how soon little ShopHouses will start cropping up all over the place.

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By  |  03:25 PM ET, 09/15/2011

Categories:  Restaurants

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