I was first introduced to Chuy’s Restaurants when I visited one of the original ones in the Austin area many years back. I remember great food and a fun decor, but it was so long ago, I was excited to be re-acquainted with Chuy’s at a media preview last Saturday for the restaurant opening today in Fairfax. This Chuy’s is at 11219 Lee Highway in the City of Fairfax, and with its bright decor both inside and outside, you can’t miss it.
As the restaurant staff likes to say, “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s” — the message being that while all restaurants share a fun and funky vibe and some standard features, each is unique in how it executes the concept. All of their restaurants have hand-crafted metal palm trees, hand-carved wooden fish decorations, a “hubcap” room, and an Elvis shrine, but exactly how these appear in each restaurant varies.
Fun decor aside, the real draw at Chuy’s is the food: fresh, made-from-scratch, authentic Tex-Mex. The restaurant prides itself on making the food from scratch each day. The space saved from not having a typical restaurant freezer (something not common for a restaurant at this price point), general manager Skylar Bell says, frees up more room for fresh food prep daily. In fact, the only freezer is a small one to keep ice, ice cream and frozen treats, and french fries for the kids’ meals.
Fresh produce is delivered several times a week, tortillas are hand-rolled throughout the day (kids will enjoy watching the process through the glass windows), all meat is marinated for hours in Shiner Bock beer, and the sauces — the restaurant makes 10 kinds — get their start early in the morning, every day. Sauces include the mild Tomatillo, Boom Boom, Spicy Vegetarian, Chili con Queso, Spicy Hatch Green Chile, and the famous (and fantastic!) Creamy Jalapeño. Even the bar drinks such as margaritas and the Texas Martini are fresh.
We got to sample the chips, guacamole, all 10 sauces, the “Elvis chicken” (made extra-crispy with crushed Lays chips), the combination beef and chicken fajitas (generous portions), my son’s chicken tenders and fries, and the tortilla soup (probably the best I’ve ever had), as well as drinks (margaritas, Texas Martini, and sangria). See my pictures below for more information on these items and on the restaurant features (click on the image to start the slide show).
Chuy’s got its start in Austin in 1982. The Fairfax location (for which the restaurant hired around 160 people, Bell says) is the first; another Chuy’s will open next month at the Springfeld Town Center. Chuy’s of Fairfax will be open 11 am daily, until 10 pm Sunday-Thursday and until 11 pm Friday-Saturday.
Reasons families will like Chuy’s:
- All fresh ingredients: meals prepared from scratch daily
- Allergy-friendly restaurant: there are no nut products used, and Bell says if patrons have issues such as gluten or other allergies, the wait staff can quickly recommend menu options, and any item can be customized
- Family-friendly: kids’ menu with Tex-Mex options and basic kid “favorites” (hamburger, chicken tenders); changing tables in the bathrooms
- Fun vibe and bright decor with lots to look at, from tortilla-making to hubcaps on the ceiling, to the Elvis shrine, to hidden objects throughout
- Famous “Nacho Car” happy hour (4-7 pm): an unlimited — and totally free — nacho station with chips, salsa, queso, refried beans, and taco meat; make your own and eat all you want! Best part: you get it all from the back of an old repurposed car (in Fairfax, it’s a classic Cadillac)
- La Chihuaha Bar features pictures of local dogs from around the area (this was a fundraiser for local animal shelters)
- Cheerful outdoor patio for those days when the weather is extra-nice
- Easy Frequent Fan card: buy just five entrees (one stamp per visit) and your next one is free
- Their beneficiary charity is Youth for Tomorrow, a local organization that provides a safe environment for at-risk, abandoned, and abused youth
Disclaimer: I was invited on a pre-opening media tour of Chuy’s with food and bar samplings followed by a dinner for my family. The decision to write this article was my own, as are all opinions, text, and photos within it.
All photos (c) Fairfax Family Fun