The juggernaut that is Chuy's has finally landed in Fort Worth, in a highly visible spot on West Seventh Street. Like every other of the 22 locations that this highly popular Austin-based chain has opened, this one is already bustling with customers. The combination of reliable Tex-Mex and cheap prices makes for a formula that's hard to resist.
Chuy's also boasts a few signature motifs, also found at the Fort Worth location. First, Chuy's looooves Elvis Presley, and this obsession can be seen both in the decor and on the menu. The dining room always has an Elvis shrine, and the menu always includes the Elvis memorial combo ($8.99), a bounteous plate with enchiladas and tacos. We happened to visit on Elvis' birthday, and a party was already under way. The helpful young servers wore Elvis memorabilia and served the house 'ritas ($5.25) in giveaway memento glasses.
Chuy's other unique twist is its assortment of sauces, with a special place held for the green chile sauce, a New Mexico-style sauce made with tomatillos whose tartness adds appreciated complexity. Chuy's is so enamored with green chiles that it hosts an annual celebration of the famed Hatch chile, setting up an outdoor roaster and roasting them on site.
Green chile sauce was featured prominently in Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom ($8.99), a plate of two thick chicken and cheese enchiladas. These were some of the fattest enchiladas around, stuffed with so much chicken that you really only needed one to feel full. The chicken was "pulled" into long shards, extra-moist and tender. They came with a side of refried beans and rice moistened by the green chile sauce. Pico de gallo came on the side, topped with slices of pickled jalapeño.
The same chicken figured prominently in the tortilla soup ($3.99 cup, $5.99 bowl). A flavorful chicken broth held chicken, kernels of roasted corn, diced tomato, cubed carrots and the random chunk of fresh avocado. Tortilla strips sprinkled on top started out crunchy, then became saturated.
A combination appetizer plate ($8.99) was enough for three or more to share, with chicken taquitos, quesadillas filled with chicken and cheese, bean-and-cheese tostadas, a scoop of guacamole and a small bowl of queso.
A standout at Chuy's are the nubby, slightly thick tortillas, which are made on the premises. A glass-enclosed room sits in a central location in the dining room so everyone can see the tortiallas being made.
Complimentary chips came with a house salsa that was so blazing hot, you could hardly taste the tomato, onion or jalapeño with which it was made. That salsa makes a good excuse to order one of Chuy's so-called martinis ($7.99) -- made with tequila instead of gin -- and served in a plastic shaker so you can pour it yourself.