We have been dining at Chuy’s, the vibrant Austin, Texas, based restaurant for nearly 15 years, gazing at their dreamy art-filled walls, refurbished palm trees and ceilings adorned with hubcaps all while finding our religion eating stacked blue corn enchiladas and drinking New Mexican Martinis. If you’re like us, and enjoy the melded, spice-forward fusion that is Tex-Mex, you need to visit one of the four Colorado locations sprinkled throughout Denver, and in Colorado Springs, and what better opportunity than on National Tequila Day, Friday, July 24.
Chuy’s celebrates the agave spirit’s special day with $5 Don Julio shots, super grande 22-oz. margaritas served in take-away, color changing cups and moreover, with a summer seasonal, a refreshing frozen watermelon ‘Rita made with Exotico Tequila. This frosty beverage legitimately replicates the hydrating, pulp of ol’ red, because it is just that, and makes for the perfect sipper to cool down during these unusually warm summer days.
“It starts with a fresh watermelon that is hand cut and pureed in-house combined with fresh squeezed lime juice, sugar water and Triple Sec, says Margarita Ortiz, bar manager at Chuy’s in Colorado Springs. “We make smaller batches so that it’s fresh everyday.”
We pop into Chuy’s to sample the entirety of their margarita flight with four frozen varieties: traditional, strawberry, mango (*damn tasty) and the new watermelon, that arrives on a paddle-like, colorful, wooden fish, made by a family in Mexico, specifically for Chuy’s restaurants. Directly overhead, the same hand-carved marine life suspends from the ceiling in large fluid schools creating a whimsical vibe. We voice our hesitation about frozen margs as we are not typically fans– whatsoever– due to their anticipated syrupy sweetness levels. So, we are pleasantly surprised that they all produce very natural flavor profiles true to the fruit itself and not the candy-coated impersonators we’ve come to expect a la the Vegas strip.
We follow up with a grouping on-the-rocks that showcases the Grandma’s Rockin’ Rita, a citrus forward “upside-down” take with a healthy shot of Grand Marnier & 1800 Silver. The New Mexican Martini, traditionally served in a martini glass, that offers a nice hint of spice from hatch green chile infused El Jimador Tequila with Cointreau and garnished with jalapeño stuffed olives. The Top Shelf Skinny made with Cazadores Reposado, Triple Sec and agave nectar, which is equally as solid, as well as a tart but approachable blackberry version.
“The one thing I really brag on is our margs,” says Ortiz. “We hand squeeze the limes first thing when get here in the morning. So, no heart burn, no weird headache because of the yucky sweet and sour. They’re 100% fresh.”
When it comes to eats we decide that maybe after a decade of ordering the same entree we should branch out and due to COVID, the menu is currently more limited which helps force our hand. Instead, our server points us towards his favorite, fajitas, marinated in true Texas gold–Shiner Bock, along with spices and Serrano peppers. The sizzling cast-iron dish is on point, with al dente veggies, juicy strips of steak and chicken, all the expected sides and some truly memorable handmade flour tortillas. The generous portion, built for two, is more than enough, especially with the addition of airy tortilla chips paired with queso, guac, their chunky and notably spicy salsa and creamy jalapeño ranch, which we could literally drink. Although we are considerably satisfied, we make room for a few bites of the tres leches cake, a large, quarter-pan serving of the most delicate, yet moist and milky, heaven-sent dessert you have had outside of L.A.
“Along with the eclectic, fun atmosphere you’re also getting great service, amazing food that’s made from scratch and fresh margaritas,” says Ortiz. “With the lively music and decor, we create a family atmosphere and all together that just makes for an amazing experience.”
Do you want to get in on the holiday but just aren’t feeling comfortable with dine-in service as of yet? Chuy’s offers curbside pickup via order.chuys.com with Margarita kits that include house-made margarita mix with fresh squeezed lime juice and a 375 mL bottle of tequila, so you don’t have to miss out on Friday’s festivities.
*Psssttt. Chuy’s bar owns the nickname of “La Chihuahua” so *PRO-TIP: During any visit, bring in a framed picture of your dog and Chuy’s will hang it on the wall and buy your table a free appetizer. Score and thanks puparonis.
*All images courtesy of Chuy’s