Favorite

Chuy’s defies chain grub with true-to-Austin swagger 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper

Chuy’s, 9297 Forest Bluffs View, 430-4025, chuys.com

Chuy’s opened back in March to much fanfare, the fourth Colorado location for the brand and the 101st location, our server tells us. The chain launched in the early ’80s in Austin, Texas, so I bring an Austinite with me.

She grew up eating at the original location, so I ask her to guide our shared order. She nabs us the New Mexican Martini, an 18-ounce, “Texas-sized” construct for $11.50 (easily split, especially if someone’s driving), made with El Jimador Silver Tequila, not too much Cointreau, Hatch green chiles for bite, and thankfully real fruit juice, no nasty mix.

I cannot find a grievance with it, nor with our Big As Yo’ Face oven-roasted chicken burrito, ordered with deluxe tomatillo sauce atop, and a side of creamy jalapeño sauce. Both are tangy and splendid, the latter with a nice earthy kick and the former rich with cilantro and herbaceous notes. Side Mexican rice absolutely doesn’t suck and flavorful refried beans come gushing out of the burrito as we fork into it, finding juicy chicken bits too.

I’m genuinely impressed by the quality, for chain food; even the table salsa dropped earlier with warm chips bests most out there. And the effort to make the decor feel old totally works: from Q*bert-looking geometric floor tiles to outsider art and spun religious iconography plus colorful wooden fish schools swimming along the ceiling. Somehow there’s authenticity, even though there’s 100 others like it.

My curmudgeonly, independent-eatery-loyal self must admit: I dig Chuy’s. 

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