Chuy's Tex-Mex ~ Southlake, Texas

Some of you may recall my somewhat scathing review of the Arlington location a few years back. It was one of those ridiculous outings where everything that could go wrong - did go wrong. We had a better experience for a business lunch at the Plano location about a year later. But we haven't been back since. Thing is, the RJG wants to like Chuy's. Even though Tex-Mex is prominently featured in their name, it is their fascination with New Mexican food that keeps us wondering if it isn't better than we recalled. There's so few places that serve New Mexican cuisine in DFW, and so we get somewhat desperate I think. We've become such fans of the food type, that Mrs. RJG and I now have gone to Santa Fe for the last two years and spent a week each year there. I work from the hotel and we eat two squares a day, trying different restaurants (or going back to favorites). And we plan on making it again this year. One of my regrets is not featuring Santa Fe on this blog. I really hope to fix that this year. Anyway, as most of you know already, the hipster chain has made its way to Northeast Tarrant. So how did we fare this time?

Food: With Mexican food, a large of the experience is the chips and salsa. The chips are lame, very thin and break easily when dipping. The salsa is really a pico de gallo. It's freshly blended whole tomatoes (still foaming when served) with other spices. It's not bad (surprisingly), but compared to a cooked and blended sauce, it's a huge disappointment. I think they should offer a real salsa at this point in their career. As for the entrees, my eyes on this visit fell to the Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken. Oh man. It's amazing I'm still walking around eating stuff like this. It's breaded with crushed Lays potato chips, and smothered in a fine green chile. It was like a chicken parmesan with green chile! It was excellent, no question about it. As for their "smothered in green" it's pretty good, but lacks the flavor we've come to expect from both New Mexico, and even Colorado for that matter. This was served with green chile rice and refried beans. Mrs. RJG went with the Vegetarian combo, but with hatch green chile instead of ranchero sauce. She expressed delight at the crispiness of the chile relleno and the melted white Mexican cheese. And we both enjoyed the rice and beans which were uniformly excellent.

Drinks: They claim fame with their margaritas (don't they all?), and they have a variety to choose from. I had the frozen concoction, and as they promote, it is very clear it's made with fresh lime juice. They aren't super strong, but at $6 I didn't expect they would be. You can always add a tequila "floater" if you want more of a kick. Mrs. RJG enjoyed her margarita on the rocks and stated similar to me.

Location: Chuy's anchors a new strip center on the southeast corner of TX-114 and Carroll Ave. It's a spacious restaurant, and for those coming up or down Carroll, most of the parking is off the freeway service road. We chose - somewhat at the last minute - to go here on a Saturday night. This decision was made at 4 something, so we left right away knowing it would be crowded. Even at 5, this place was an absolute zoo. We did get seated right away, but it was mobbed with families and big groups. There were so many screaming babies and toddlers, it seemed more like a nursery school than a restaurant. Not a pleasant experience at all. I'm not sure what the restaurant can do about this (answer: not much unfortunately), but if you're the type who gets exhausted by having people around you at all times, noises coming at you from all directions, and just general mayhem, then I would suggest coming here at 2:30 on a Wednesday (maybe). Obviously folks love coming here - or it wouldn't be jammed with families waiting to get in. But it's not a Regular Joe's kind of place, that's for certain. When we left, there was a line that made it seem as if the Rolling Stones were there in concert. Whew - good luck to them and their stomachs!

Notes: Chuy's started with humble beginnings in Austin circa 1982. They are now expanding rapidly around the country with dozens of locations. No question about it - this is a popular place to eat.

Rating: 3.0




Hours: Mon - Thu 11am to 10pm; Fri - Sat 11am to 11pm; Sun 10:30am to 10pm

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