Fun, festive atmosphere, great food, drinks at Chuy’s

Chuy’s is not your average Tex-Mex restaurant.

Sure, the menu is full of classic dishes from burritos to fajitas to tacos to enchiladas.

But there are three things that immediately make this fast-growing chain — straight from Austin, Texas, to Austin Landing — stand out:

1. Its fun, quirky, eclectic, casual yet energetic atmosphere.

2. Fresh ingredients including fresh-squeezed limes for margaritas, hand-rolled flour, corn and blue-corn tortillas, and fresh-roasted hand-pulled all-white chicken.

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3. Customizable dishes with signature sauces that range from mild to hot. Ranchero, Tomatillo, Deluxe Tomatillo, Tex-Mex, Boom-Boom, Green Chile, Hatch Green Chile and Creamy Jalapeno (available by special request).

I had the opportunity to attend a special media and VIP preview on the eve of the restaurant’s opening with three of my friends, and here are some of the highlights from our Chuy’s (pronounced “chewy’s” by the way) visit:

DRINKS TO TRY

Chuy’s drink menu alone is good reason to head to Austin Landing.

Margaritas are my adult beverage of choice, and I can honestly say that the margarita I tried at Chuy’s is one of the best around Dayton (and the competition is fierce).

Chuy’s offers five signature margaritas.

I ordered The Perfect Margarita ($9.25 regular price) made with fresh-squeezed lime juice, Patron Silver tequila and Patron Citronge orange liqueur. The lime juice is squeezed every day in house, and you can definitely taste the difference.

Other options include traditional margaritas on the rocks or frozen or strawberry flavored ($6.75) and Chuy’s Brew, a frozen lime margarita, topped with a 7-ounce Coronita ($8.95). Make it a Granddaddy by adding a sidecar of Grand Marnier ($10.50).

Other drink options include a variety of Texas Martinis served in a shaker with a martini glass rimmed with salt and jalapeno-stuffed olives (starting at $9.50), sangria ($5.95), mojitos ($7.25) and Bloody Mary’s ($5.75). My friend tried the martini and loved it.

Chuy’s offers a small selection of wines by the glass ($5.25), domestic beers ($4) and premium beers ($4.50).

DISHES TO TRY

Here are five things from the Chuy’s menu worth trying:

1. Guacamole ($6.49, appetizer): This stuff is addicting, yet so simple. A creamy blend of fresh avocados and fresh salsa and served with thin, crispy tostado chips. This was the star of the show when it comes to menu items.

2. Fajitas: You can order sizzling fajitas for one or for two with steak, chicken or a combination. We tried the steak fajitas ($14.99) grilled with onions and peppers and served with handmade flour tortillas, lettuce, guac, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo and refried beans.

3. Stacked enchiladas ($9.59): This New Mexican recipe features homemade blue corn tortillas stacked with freshly roasted hand-pulled chicken, cheese and Tomatillo sauce and topped with sour cream. Served with rice and beans.

4. Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom ($10.99): The hand-pulled chicken and cheese with signature Boom-Boom sauce (cheese, roasted New Mexican green chiles, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro and lime juice). Served with rice and beans.

5. The Elvis Presley Memorial Combo ($11.69): You had us at Elvis. The combo includes a beef Tex-Mex enchilada, cheese Ranchero enchilada, chicken Tomatillo enchilada, a seasoned ground sirloin crispy taco and homemade tostada chips dipped in chile con queso.

HAPPY HOUR

Ask anyone in Texas, and they will tell you that Chuy’s has a phenomenal happy hour. Happy hour at Chuy’s Dayton runs from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Munch on free (yes, free) nachos from the fully-loaded nacho car (yes, car). Build your own nachos — with chips, chile con queso, salsa and taco meat — from the trunk of a classic car.

House margaritas are $5, House Texas Martinis are $8.50 and domestic beers are $3.25.

SOAK UP THE ATMOSPHERE

Expect the unexpected when you walk into Chuy’s. Here are some of our favorite sights and sounds:

Elvis: Chuy’s is known for its love and devotion to The King. You’ll see it on the walls, and you’ll see it on the menu. No one will judge you if you stop to take a selfie with Elvis in the main lobby. Just sayin’ …

Cute doggies: No dogs allowed in the restaurant, but you’ll certainly get your dog fix by browsing the wall of doggie artwork. Again, selfies encouraged.

Cars and hubcaps: Think California surfer culture. Photos of classic cars line the walls and one of the dining areas has a ceiling covered in bright, shiny hubcaps.

The music: We sipped our margaritas and munched on our chips and guac and feasted on our dinners while enjoying a trip down memory lane thanks to hits from the ’80s and ’90s artists including Stevie Wonder, a-Ha, Paula Abdul, Cyndi Lauper and The Cars.

Pure magic.
THE BASICS 

Location: The first Chuy’s that opened in Dayton is located at 10445 Innovation Drive at Austin Landing in Miami Twp. (located near Field & Stream). 

By the numbers: The 7,460 square foot restaurant features a 2,150 square foot patio and seats 395. 

Other locations: 

  • 2717 Fairfield Commons, Beavercreek, OH 45431
  • 9538 Civic Center Blvd, West Chester, OH 

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Take-out: Curbside to go and party to go menus available. More info: Call (937) 247-5450 or visit www.chuys.com or www.facebook.com/ChuysDayton.

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