Chuy’s Does High-quality Mexican Chow Right

By on March 2, 2012

Around here, when most people say “Let’s go out for Mexican” they want just one thing. They don’t want rigorously prepared authentic Mexican moles, the seven fabled sauces of Oaxaca that take all day to prepare. They don’t want an elegant place serving upscale entrees like La Cocina. No they want a big loud happy brightly-colored joint that gives you monster plates full of cheesy gooey goodness. Until two weeks ago, that meant settling for indifferently prepared meat on factory-made tortillas covered with fatty viscous glop. You’d need a lot of margaritas to eat that. But now there’s Chuy’s, and they do it right.

You know you’re in for a good meal when you see this.

Yes, they are making your tortillas. You can watch them transform a ball of dough into a flat disc and slap it on the griddle. This is a rare sight even in Mexico, where, as here, machine-made tortillas are the norm. I had a lot of time to watch the tortillas. We arrived at 5:45 on a Monday evening and there was a 40 minute wait for tables. Chuy’s isn’t a secret anymore. The wait passed quickly — they have two nicely-decorated waiting areas by the door and a few benches outside — and then were led into one of the three gaily-decorated dining rooms.

It’s better lit than the photo shows. Chuy’s is not one of those places where they dim the lights at dinner and you need a flashlight to see what you’re eating.

Great prices! Almost every entree is under $10. I got one of the few exceptions, the “Elvis Presley Memorial Combo” ($10.49) I never knew Elvis favored Mexican food, but I read that a guy named Jimmy Denson, who grew up with him, said that Elvis grew up poor, so poor he was often hungry, and “his favorite food was anything he could get his hands on.” So he would have loved the sheer size of this.

You can tell just by looking that this is high-quality chow. Yes, it’s gooey and cheesy and gloppy, but look at those enchiladas. Each has its own sauce. There’s beef with a red sauce made with fresh red chilis, there’s a cheese enchilada with a red sauce made from fire-roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions and bell peppers, and there’s a chicken enchilada (the chicken is pulled from whole oven-roasted chickens) with Hatch Green Chile sauce (I requested this, the chicken normally comes with another sauce). This sauce is made with beef stock and fresh fire-roasted chilis from New Mexico and it’s a winner. Actually the sauces all blended together so I couldn’t taste them separately, but they gave the food a fine rich flavor. The rice, beans and salad with sliced peppers were fine too. But wait, there’s more! My Elvis combo couldn’t fit on one plate, and it also included this.

A nice taco with ground beef and some nachos. And it was all so good I ate every bit!

My friends got two of the Comida Deluxe platters ($10.49 each)

That has cheese enchiladas with a rich red sauce, a nice ground beef taco, two huge nacho chips, two tiny chicken flautas, beans and a scoop of guacamole. If I had the choice I’d go for the Elvis, but this is a fine choice too. My friends couldn’t finish it because they had loaded up on the free chips and chunky salsa (the salsa is made fresh every hour and it’s great). They were stuffed but I was already thinking of the next visit.

Chuy’s
10808 E 71st St (just east of Mingo Valley Expressway)
252-0405
open daily from 11 AM to 10 PM
www.chuys.com

Chuy's Fine Tex-Mex on Urbanspoon

Brian Schwartz:

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society.  www.theomegasociety.com

I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.

“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

Brian Schwartz

About Brian Schwartz

Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola. “A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.

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