One of the newest restaurants to hit the Orlando area is Chuy’s Tex-Mex – so new in fact, that they officially open to the public today (March 19, 2013). But last night, we were invited to try out the restaurant, and we went in with empty stomachs, and hopes that this place would be good. We left satisfied on both counts.
Chuy’s is based in Texas and has slowly been expanding across the U.S., developing a cult following among foodies. This is their second Florida location.
We arrived 15 minutes early for our reservation time, which is good since the parking lot was full. So full that we had to park in back of the neighboring restaurant.
Once inside we got the scenic tour to our booth, and noticed that the restaurant was separated into different rooms, each with a slightly different decor. I’m not sure of the name of our room, but the entire ceiling was covered in car hubcaps.
En route, we passed by the tortilla-making station, thereby assuring us that they were indeed fresh-made.
We had no sooner sat down than a server dropped off some chips and salsa. The salsa had a bright fresh taste and thankfully didn’t have that smokey taste that a lot of Tex-Mex places have. We ordered a bowl of the chili con queso to go with the chips, and it was very tasty, with a slight heat to it, but still mild enough for those who don’t like spicy food.
There were three of us, so we all ordered different entrees, and sampled amongst each other’s dishes.
One of my friends ordered the Fajita Beef “Big As Yo’ Face” Burrito, which came with Mexican rice and refried beans. The other ordered a combo Fajita meal with a mix of steak and chicken. It came with a bounty of toppings and sides (everything from guacamole and pico de gallo to refried beans and Mexican rice), but the kitchen messed up and left off the chicken. Since the restaurant was busy, she opted to eat the dish as served.
Chuy’s marinates their Fajita steak in a signature blend of Shiner’s Bock beer, serrano peppers, lime juice and a mix of secret spices, for 24 hours before grilling. This results in a very tender and flavorful steak that served as a great base for both of my friend’s meals. I even liked it, and I’m not much of a steak fan.
I opted for the Chuychanga, a chimichanga dish made with oven-roasted chicken, cheese, cilantro and green chiles, deep-fried in a flour tortilla. I had mine covered in queso. For sides I went with the green chile rice and charro beans. Everything had just the right amount of spice and flavor to make my taste buds happy.
Most entrees are in the $9-$12 range, with Fajitas and some Combo platters slightly more. You do get a lot of food for the price – all three of us took home leftovers.
One of Chuy’s unique offerings is a selection of sauces that you can get on your entrees. They range from mild Tomatillo and Ranchero sauces to spicy Green Chile and Hatch Green Chile sauces. Our server kindly obliged when I asked to sample all of the sauces, and soon we were taste-testing them all with the chips.
We all liked the Creamy Jalapeno (like a spicy ranch dressing) and Hatch Green Chile, as well as the restaurant’s signature Boom-Boom sauce, which tasted like a mixture of the Green Chile and Queso sauces.
I did try the house margarita, as all alcohol proceeds last night were donated to the Give Kids the World charity. Unlike some restaurant house offerings, Chuy’s was not shy about the tequila portion, and the bartender accommodated my light salt on the rim request.
Overall, the meal was excellent, and I look forward to returning and trying out other items off the menu. I have to also make mention of the terrific service. Our server, Jake, was quick, efficient, and friendly, even though the place was packed. He also went out of his way to accommodate our requests. There were a few glitches, such as the Fajita mix-up, but since the place was still technically in training mode. we gave them a bit of leeway.
Chuy’s Tex-Mex opens to the public today (March 19) at 11am. It is located at 7913 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy in Kissimmee (west of I-4, next to Joe’s Crab Shack). Their phone is 407-787-3545 and you can follow them at the Chuy’s Orlando Facebook page.
Here are some more photos from our visit: