Though it doesn’t feel like a chain, Chuy’s began in Austin in the early 1980s, and it’s been a very popular part of the Houston dining landscape for quite a while. In a time where it has become fashionable to proclaim authentic or regional quality of the Mexican dishes, the food is unabashedly and stylishly kitchy Tex-Mex. And it is consistently satisfying. The ingredients are always fresh and top-notch, the cooking is well-executed, the flavors are expectedly and properly robust and the dishes are always pleasing, and large.
In addition to the well-known quality of the food, Chuy’s is very popular for being a fun and lively place in which enjoy yourself whether or not you are planning to eat. The restaurants are well crafted, intentionally tacky shrines to Elvis Presley. It helps make for a fun, and not so serious, often boisterous atmosphere.
Chuy’s provides one of the best dining values around. Most entrées, which are almost always enough food for a hungry adult, average around $10. The offerings are all of the Tex-Mex favorites. The appetizing fat-laden starters Include chile con queso, nachos, and quesadillas, and there are tacos, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and combination plates, Tex-Mex salads and fajitas, of course. The burritos advertised “Big as Your Face”, are nearly that and filled with a choice of just bean and cheese, ground beef or grilled chicken, and topped with a variety of sauces. The deep-fried version, the Chuychanga gives even more fat grams, and probably taste, for the money.
But, the enchiladas are possibly the best of the entrées at Chuy’s. The Deluxe Chicken, made with grilled chicken and the Deluxe Tomatillo sauce, might be the best of the enchilada dishes. The creamy slightly piquant Deluxe Tomatillo sauce is made with tomatillos and sour cream, and can be addictive, and it works well as a sauce for the chips. The 9-1-1 Hot Plate consists of enchiladas made with blue corn tortillas, filled with grilled chicken and topped with melted cheese and a very spicy green salsa. The Southwestern Enchiladas are stuffed with grilled chicken, green chile sauce and topped with a fried egg. In addition to the enchiladas the chile rellenos can be excellent. These consist of a large, breaded deep-fried poblano pepper cooked the familiar Tex-Mex fashion. The best of the fillings is the Shrimp and Cheese, topped, again, with Deluxe Tomatillo Sauce.
Chuy’s has several locations around Houston, as well as Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Waco and Nashville (TN).
Copyright Mike Riccetti. Adapted from Houston Dining on the Cheap, and used with permission.
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