On Saturday my family headed down to Chuy’s Tex-Mex restaurant on International Drive for lunch and our Chuy's review. It’s not the first time we’ve eaten there. In fact, we’ve enjoyed a number of good meals at a few of the Chuy’s in our area. Why do we keep going back?
Everyone in our family enjoys Mexican and Tex Mex food. We’ve tried most of the well known chains in the Orlando area and so far, Chuy’s is our go-to, and with good reason.
There's a Reason Why You Go Back
Consistency is important. If there is one thing we all need when choosing where to eat, it’s knowing what to expect. Restaurant menus are generally easy to reference online. That’s the easy part.
But more importantly, when we return to eat at a location where we previously had a good experience, we like to know what we are getting. That goes for food quality, quantity, atmosphere and service.
Chuy's Makes You Feel Welcome
As soon as we walked through the double doors, we were greeted with a big smile by the friendly hostess who welcomed us in and took us straight to our table.
We prefer a booth, if available, and have never had a problem getting our request for seating. Our hostess chattered to us cheerfully as she led us past a vibrant and beautiful seasonal display set up in the entrance. There are different dining rooms, each colorful and with its own theme.
Decor is bright, adding to the cheerful atmosphere and sense of energy you feel as soon as you enter the restaurant.
Seating is grouped into several separate dining rooms, which helps create a more intimate feel to the dining experience. Finding the balance between an energetic atmosphere and avoiding a feeling of chaos and crowding can be tricky.
Grouping tables into smaller sections seems to have worked well to balance energy and calm. Despite the relatively large seating capacity, you don’t feel like you’re in a massive open dining hall. I think it also serves to keep noise levels down when the restaurant is full.
Almost immediately after taking our seats, our server came to introduce herself and bring a basket of tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa for the table. We sometimes order a portion of queso or guacamole to go with the chips, but we were happy to go with the salsa only, this time.
Chuy’s servers are always friendly and very attentive to our needs. As a family with widely varying tastes and preferences for food, we usually have at least one special request for a substitute or omission. They have been consistently eager to accommodate us and our quirky tastes and I don’t believe we have ever had to make any additional requests or return anything.
Tuning in to the needs of the guest is a fundamental part of good service and Chuy's servers have never failed us in this regard. The servers also score extra points for making sure our glasses are never empty.
Nobody Likes Eating On A Messy Table
Tables are serviced and cleaned promptly. We all expect to eat at a clean table with silverware and plates void of stains, water marks and grease spots.
Chuy’s does a good job of maintaining the guest areas for a pleasant experience. There are no bits of paper and old napkins on the floor under your seat. The silverware is already laid out of the tables when you are seated, but it’s wrapped in protective paper and sealed with a sticker, reassuring you that fingers haven’t been roaming around on the business end of your fork. It’s a nice touch and it looks neat, too.
Restrooms have always been clean and well stocked. Chuy's seems to be very good about keeping the area clean and pleasant.
Attentive Service. Friendly Attitude.
Once our server had our order, the preparation of our meals was reasonably quick. Ingredients here taste fresh. Two ladies in a windowed booth stood rolling out fresh flour tortillas near to where we were sitting.
The food always arrives hot! This is something I always notice. I want my hot food to be hot. Not warm; hot! Again, Chuy’s delivers. In fact, as the food is placed in front of the guests, the servers caution you that the plates are also hot.
Clouds of steam were radiating from my husband’s beef fajitas and we could feel the heat rising from each of our plates.
Fresh, Authentic Tex-Mex
Each of us ordered something different. We have quite different taste preferences, so this is common for our family.
My husband ordered beef fajitas. A generous portion of sizzling hot beef strips, surrounded by a bed of sautéed mixed peppers arrived on a cast iron skillet. Warm, hand-made soft flour tortillas are served in a flat bottomed bowl with a lid to keep the heat in, with sides of refried beans and Mexican rice. The pica de gallo, sour cream, lettuce and guacamole are served separately so you can assemble your fajitas just the way you like them.
My meal was the appetizer plate. Yes, it’s a lot of food for one person. After all, it’s intended for sharing, but I like the variety and always end up taking home what I can’t eat.
This platter consists of nachos, prepared on soft tacos with refried beans and cheese, topped with jalapeño slices. There is no meat on these and they are fairly mild, but certainly not lacking in flavour.
The deluxe quesadillas are filled with cheese, jalapeños and pieces of tender chicken breast flavoured with fajita seasoning. They are much spicier than the nachos and sometimes have even more of a bite to them, depending who’s preparing the food in the kitchen that day.
The little chicken flautas are easy to eat with your hands. There are four in a serving, filled with pulled chicken and a smoky chipotle sauce, they make a great finger food that doesn’t drip down your shirt while you eat.
The appetizer plate comes on a hot, oval platter and surrounds a bowl of queso, nestled between shredded lettuce and a spoon of pico de gallo with a scoop of guacamole and another of sour cream. It’s a feast for the hungry and a great appetizer to share between three or four people.
Our daughter enjoys soft tacos with chicken. Another generous portion, the soft flour tortillas come ready assembled and are served with either Mexican or green chile rice and your choice of refried or charro beans. Pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole are part of the meal and you can ask for them on the side if you don’t want the extras combined with your meal.
Our server checked in on us a couple of times while we were eating, brought extra napkins and kept our drinks topped up. She then cleared our plates as soon as we were done and brought out boxes for those of us who had ordered more than we could manage to eat.
Don't Plan On Having Dessert
The down side of generous portions is that we never have room for dessert. Typically, dessert at Mexican restaurants is not to my taste, but there is a modest selection there if you like something sweet to end off your meal. For us, it's just as well that we don't have room. The dessert options could stand some improvement.
Something for Everyone on the Menu
The menu is extensive, offering a wide variety of flavours, types of meals and portion sizes. There are vegetarian options available, too. These are marked on the menu.
Regular fountain drinks and hot coffee are among the non-alcoholic beverage choices. If you enjoy a cocktail though, Chuy’s serves up some wonderful frozen margaritas. I recently enjoyed the mixed berry one and I really enjoyed it. The alcoholic beverages are very reasonably prices, compared to many other restaurants with a similar selection and I thought they did a wonderful job with presentation, too.
If you have young children, there is a kids menu with several items, ranging from tortillas and burritos to a burger or chicken nuggets for little ones who don’t care to stray too far from familiarity. Children’s meals also include a dessert.
There is a bar which is in a separate room near the entrance, offering bar seating as well as some high top tables and a few booths. If you like to relax and have a few drinks first before heading through to eat, or you are just in the mood for dining near the good drinks, this option is available to you, too.
Chuy's Review: Good Tex-Mex Restaurant in Orlando
Chuy’s may be a chain restaurant catering for the casual diner, but consistently friendly and attentive service, good value and generous portions of freshly prepared food keep us going back for more.
There are other Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in Orlando, but Chuy's offers us the best value for our money with friendly service, a clean environment and great food. We love it and think you'll enjoy it, too.