Welcome to the Northern Virginia Restaurant Blog.

Restaurant reviews in Tyson's and surrounding area... mostly

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chuy's Tex-Mex chain restaurant new to NoVa - Fairfax, VA

11219 Lee Hwy
Fairfax, VA 22030

Something in the food at Chuy’s made a detour between Austin, TX and Fairfax, VA.  We say this because it seems that if you ask anyone they’ll tell you that Chuy’s is a staple in the Austin, TX area.  So, if you’re making Tex-Mex and you’re in Austin, it’s GOT to be GOOD.  Right?  Uh, no. While the décor was pleasant and the service was tolerable, the food was quite average and certainly not the best Tex-Mex we’ve ever had.  As a matter of fact, some of the best Tex-Mex meals that we've had outside of Texas were in the south of Spain at a place called Restaurante Casa Texas México, very “autentica comida mexicana.” But we digress.

It’s a shame, because NoVA is seriously lacking good Tex-Mex. Some places come close like El Tio in McLean, which we reviewed here, and even Anita’s in Vienna, which we've also reviewed here. Chuy’s sounded promising, but in the end we think it compares only with other national chain Tex-Mex brands, like On the Border and Chevy’s, which have had a long-time presence in Northern Virginia.

Following the schools of decorative fish that adorn the ceiling, the reception area centers a break - to the left is the restaurant's several large dining rooms and to the right the bar. On a Saturday evening, the restaurant was quite crowded with large families with children, groups, and couples, with a wait of about 20 minutes, so after evaluating whether or not we wanted to wait, we grabbed an available table at the bar. We loved the many dog portraits on the walls, but that was about all that we loved about this restaurant.  

An opened car trunk section holds the bottomless chips, salsa and queso available to anyone who wants to get up to refresh their obligatory chip and salsa portions when the wait staff is running behind, which seemed to be almost all the time.   

Chuy’s is obsessive with cleanliness.  They work it into conversation, the silverware is wrapped in a “Sanitized for your protection” paper envelope, and go out of their way to use a small plastic shovel to refill the chip bowl.  Ironically, one of our knives was spotted with dried food and needed replacement. 

Our server seemed rather disinterested in engaging with us when we tried to enlist her help in explaining the differences among several dishes. Instead of helping us, she kept eyeing some of the other diners, even as we were ordering, so we are assuming there was something more interesting happening a few tables away. The fact that our dirty dishes were piling up as wait staff zoomed past us without noticing, we think is because they were very busy, although it is certainly no excuse, and frankly, don't recall service this weak at Chevy's.

The chips and salsa were enough for appetizer. The salsa was relatively good, though a bit watery. It may be a pleasant alternative for those who don't care for the deep red tomato-y standard. It was light with tiny diced veggies. A watery salsa may not be for everyone. 

We ordered pretty standard Tex-Mex entrees - a beef fajita and the #1 Combination, which included an enchilada a taco, and a flauta. We asked that both the beef taco be substituted with chicken.  This did not happen on their first attempt, so they brought the chicken taco somewhat later when reminded that this is what we asked. Despite a long list of signature sauces on their menu, even those with 4 chillies were quite bland. There was really nothing wrong with the food, it was the same that could be expected from any of the old familiar chains in the area, like Chevy's, which is bound to be Chuy's main competitor here.  Even their logos look similar!

Will we go back?  Probably not. At least, not for a long time. For a better meal and better service in a restaurant of this kind, we will still go to Chevy's or On The Border.  However, we certainly believe that competition improves quality in everything, including of course restaurants, so we welcome Chuy's to Northern Virginia!

 Chips bar

 How can you not like a place that features our best friends?

 Happy Hour info


 Bottomless chips and salsa

 Signature Sauce selection

 Combination Deluxe $11.99

 Beef Fajita $14.99

Dirty plates piling up

1 comment:

  1. A friend recommended Chuy's, so we got some takeout a few weeks ago. There was a very large wait for dine in customers, so we had high expectations for the food. We were very disappointed with the lack of flavor and will not be back.