Breaking the chain

Chuy’s Crispy Tacos

If you’ve driven through Short Pump in the past six months, there’s not a chance you’ve missed Chuy’s, the big and bold Tex-Mex restaurant in West Broad Village. From the outside, the brightly painted 8,000 square foot building gives a foretaste of what’s inside: eclectic decor, a fun menu, and from my experience, a lot of noise. The restaurant is a chain of 40 in the nation, but it’s the first of its kind in Virginia.

We were fortunate to arrive at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday, the perfect time for happy hour. From 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday, there are drink specials, but what’s really special is the free nacho bar served out of a giant car hood. Unashamedly, we returned again and again to fill up a basket of nachos with melted queso, seasoned ground sirloin, beans and salsa. The chips are delicate and perfectly salted, and the salsa is chunky and fresh.

The family-friendly restaurant’s atmosphere is truly unique. From its sheer size to its gaudy decor, the restaurant screams fun. On both of my visits, I saw a lot of families and a lot of kids; it’s the perfect environment for children. Keep in mind that for anyone who doesn’t have kids, the restaurant can be a loud place for regular conversation.

Chuy’s included some of its staple decor items including an Elvis Shrine, a room covered in hubcaps on the ceiling, and oversized metal palm trees dangling over diners’ heads. The walls are lined in mosaic tiles, and aged portraits of families hang on the walls. Every chair at the bar is a different color, and there is definitely a lot to see. You could find something new on every visit.

“The decor is funky, eclectic and unique to Chuy’s,” said the manager. “There are stories behind all of it.”

In a glass booth visible from our table, we watched as cooks pressed and fried flour and corn tortillas. The server brought us a sample of a hot flour tortilla; I now know there is no substitute for homemade.

All of the food is made fresh, in-house every day.

“Nothing is pre-made. It’s all hand-made in the kitchen daily,” said the manager.

For a non-chain lover, this fact alone makes Chuy’s stand above any other chain restaurant, at least in my book.

The sign on the outside of the building reads “Mexican Food,” but the menu is not the same-old Mexican you’ve had a million times.

I ordered the Crispy Tacos, an order of three hand-formed corn tortillas filled with three different meats: chicken, ground sirloin and fajita steak. I had to pay a bit extra to get all three meats, but it was worth it. They were all delicious, although I had filled up earlier on nachos.

My friend ordered the Chuy’s Special Enchilada: blue corn tortillas layered with hand-pulled chicken, cheese and Tomatilla sauce. I loved the tart and tangy sauce, but there wasn’t quite enough of it, and her meal was a little plain. According to our server, the most ordered dishes are the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom enchilada (featuring Chuy’s special boom-boom sauce), the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo, and the Baja Tacos stuffed with fried fish or shrimp.

Without a doubt, I’ll return to try many more meals and make many more trips to the nacho car.
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017
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The Home Building Association of Richmond’s 66th Annual Parade of Homes event will return to the Greater Richmond area on October 7-8, 14-15, 21-22 and 28-29 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. This event is the premier program showcasing the best new homes in the region and is free for the public. There will be 91 new homes built by 35 builder members in this year’s show. The homes will showcase the latest in designs, construction techniques and materials, at prices ranging from the $180s to over $1,000,000. For details, call 282-0400 or visit http://www.richmondparadeofhomes.com. Full text

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