Friday, June 3, 2016

Uncle Julio--I love you! Tex Mex in the Metroplex

There is a chain of Tex-Mex restaurants that is my absolute favorite among all Tex-Mex places in the world...Uncle Julio's. This review is only about the Dallas and Fort Worth locations as they are the only two I have visited. The chain started in Big D in 1986. Most of the time, I go to the Fort Worth location.

Roasted salsa and tortilla chips
Let me get some of the obvious criticisms out of the way. Yes, they get crowded and there can be a long wait. Yes, the service can be "iffy" or slow, particularly when they are slammed. Yes, sometimes it is noisy. But I love U.J. anyway. The roasted salsa and tortilla chips are divine. The fajitas are fabulous, best I have ever eaten. The house-made flour tortillas--yum. This is the standard by which I judge ALL other Tex-Mex restaurants and I have loved it for over two decades.

The challenge every time is not fill up on the chips and salsa. The salsa has a wonderful smokey taste and is spicy enough to please but not so hot that it causes pain. You can see the little bits of veggies and cilantro. The chips are nice and light. Addictive, without question.

My sister and I stopped for lunch last week in Fort Worth on the way back to Abilene from East Texas. It was a Tuesday at a little around 11:15am and we were seated right away. It was cool enough to sit on the patio but we ended up inside on the other side of the window. The server came by and greeted us about 5 minutes after we were seated which was a bit on the slow side but we were not in a rush. He took our beverage orders. Shortly thereafter chips and salsa arrived. I enjoy that we each get our own salsa cups.

When the server returned with our drinks (another 5-6 minutes later) we put in an order for some queso and my sister asked some questions about the menu. He went to get the queso while we made up our minds.

Mamacita's lunch nachos with beef fajitas
I wasn't hungry enough to go for  the fajitas so I got steak fajita nachos instead ($8.99). My sister went for the chicken honey chipotle fajitas ($14.99). The beef fajitas have a great "crust" on them and are never stringy which can be a problem with skirt steak and why I often don't order beef fajitas anymore because lots of places tend to skimp on the quality of the meat.

The queso was a little disappointing at $5.99 for a cup. It tasted fine but nothing that I can't easily make at home with Velveeta cheese and some pico de gallo. It did function as a nice topping for my nachos after I had eaten the steak off of the tostada though. The nachos also came with sour cream and tasty guacamole, garnished with fresh sliced jalapenos. I asked for some pickled peppers and was accommodated. I would have liked a bit more steak but it turned out I couldn't finish it all anyway.

Honey Chipotle Chicken Fajitas (lunch portion)
My sister enjoyed her fajitas. She describe the sauce as more "bbq-ish" than glaze which she prefers but said some people may not like it. Too sweet for my taste. It was served with the usual fajita fixins', charro beans and rice. She didn't even bother with the rice and beans and went straight for the meat (after picking off the cilantro--she's not a fan of that herb). They were juicy but not overly drippy as many places try to disguise dry chicken with lots of oil.

The food came out pretty quickly and the server checked back a couple of times to refill our drinks and see if we needed anything else. The bill did arrive at the end and we were dismayed to have to drive back to Abilene instead of being able to take an after lunch nap. I can't ever recall not leaving this place satisfied and stuffed. The prices may be on the high side but it is worth it.

My favorite location is at I-30 and Camp Bowie in Fort Worth. Only a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from Abilene! You can us the "find a table" option on their website to reserve a spot during busy times.
Uncle Julio's 
5301 Camp Bowie Blvd.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

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