Chuy’s Opens in Springfield on Tuesday
Chuy’s, the quirky Tex-Mex restaurant that opened its first DMV location in Fairfax last month, will open a second area location at the new Springfield Town Center on Oct. 28. The Austin, Texas-based restaurant is in the mall’s restaurant row along Loisdale Road and joins Maggiano’s Little Italy, which opened last weekend.
Co-founders Mike Young and John Zapp opened their first restaurant in Austin in 1982. Springfield is the chain’s 59th location, with additional restaurants set to open in Sterling and Gainesville (and maybe Arlington?) in 2015. If you’ve never been to Chuy’s, you should expect more rock-and-roll than mariachi.
While the restaurant has a saying, “If you’ve seen one Chuy’s, you’ve seen one Chuy’s,” all are colorful with a “school” of more than 13,000 carved, wooden fish swimming from the entrance to the bar, a free nacho bar served out of the trunk of an old car from 4-7 p.m. weekdays and a room with hubcaps covering the ceiling. Each location also has a shrine to Elvis Presley, the restaurant’s patron saint, although in Springfield it has been expanded to a curtained Elvis booth. There’s a booth dedicated to Priscilla next to Elvis’. (If you go dressed as Elvis or Priscilla on Jan. 8, the King’s birthday, you’ll get a free entrée.) There are also two dozen tiny animal figurines hidden throughout the restaurant — Fairfax has koala bears, Springfield has cats.
If you’ve visited Fairfax’s 6,000-square foot location in a former Chili’s, you’ll be happy to hear Springfield is 4,000 square feet larger and has two outdoor patios, including one outside the La Chihuahua Bar, which is decorated with portraits of local dogs. Take in a photo of your own pooch and get a free appetizer.
With a freezer about the size of a home refrigerator, all the food including the chips, salsa, guacamole and sauces is made from scratch daily from fresh ingredients delivered six days a week. In fact, the only food in the freezer are French fries for the kids’ meals and ice cream. Even the flour, corn and blue corn tortillas are made by hand on a traditional comal in the dining room.
We got a sneak peak and taste over the weekend during the location’s Friends and Family trial run. My party of three found all our food to be fresh and tasty, especially the margaritas made with fresh squeezed lime juice (I think we tried seven varieties in all). The menu includes four varieties of “Big As Yo Face” burritos; soft and crispy tacos; four varieties of chile rellenos; the Elvis Green Chile Fried Chicken breast breaded with Lay’s potato chips then deep fried and smothered in green chile sauce and cheddar cheese; and of course fajitas.
When you visit, make sure to try the queso, which has a bit of a kick from green chiles; the smooth and creamy guacamole; and the frozen strawberry-mango swirl margaritas. My favorite dish so far is the Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom, two hand-pulled chicken and cheese enchiladas covered in spicy sauce made with cheese, roasted New Mexican green chiles, tomatillos, green onions, cilantro and lime juice. I also recommend skipping the traditional Mexican rice and ordering the green chile rice instead.
Chuy’s Springfield is located at 6793 Springfield Mall, Springfield and is open for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour drink specials along with the free nacho car with chips, salsa, queso and ground sirloin are served from 4-7 p.m. weekdays.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.