Tuesday, August 16, 2005



A few months ago, on a weekend, I headed over to Julio's for lunch. I walked in, and they told me "We're closed." Okay. So I walked out... then I saw a sign on one of the windows, scribbled in pen, stating "Closed today for no particular reason". Or at least it seemed like that. And this wasn't the first of these occurrences. Though I would see the place full of business most of the time, my wanting to eat there would immediately cause it to be closed. Repeatedly. For about two years. Earth went around the Sun *twice*.

That is until this past Sunday, finally. We opened the door, and it was "May I help you?" The menu had one obvious vegetarian option, the "Vegetarian Tacos" or somesuch... but I wanted enchiladas.. So I tried to order off-menu: "Do you have cheese enchiladas?" "Yes we do." Just in case, I asked if they were vegetarian, and she said "Yes." No lard? "No lard." Great!

So the stuff comes. Let's break it down:

- 2 cheese enchiladas under a tomatillo sauce
- Mexican rice
- refried pinto beans
- bit of lettuce w/ tomato
- white flour tortillas
- a little plastic container of salsa

The enchiladas were great.. I was very happy. No doubts better than the standard fare from Chuy's and Trudy's. The cheese was of much higher quality (almost as good as that of Maudie's), and the sauce... The sauce! [imagine victory music playing]

The rice (orange in color) was the opposite... pretty devoid of much resembling flavor. It was there, existing. The refried beans were almost like that, too. It's sad... Ugh... It could have all been so perfect.

Bit of lettuce and tomato. I admit... it was pretty good. Freshly cut lettuce, etc. It at least enabled me to cross "greens" off the list for this meal, in a pleasant way. The salsa (red) didn't seem like anything special, but the tortillas... they reminded me more of the enchiladas in their quality. Good stuff. They made the journey through the refried beans much more worthwhile.

Did I miss something? Oh yeah... That would be the chips (i.e chips and salsa).

That's because: they never served chips and salsa. Ummm... What kind of tex-mex place doesn't give out free chips and salsa?? I've developed several theories as to why this happened. Here they are:

a) They consider the tortillas to be the "chips".
b) They forgot.
c) They ran out of chips.
d) Someone... or .. something... stole their chips.
e) They ate all their chips.
f) They didn't like us.
g) They're anti-chips-and-salsa.
h) I have totally spaced out.

You be the judge. Frankly, I think it was (e).

All right, so the lack of chips to try and the lame rice/beans are big deals to me.... but I'm willing to forgive, since the enchiladas and tortillas were so good. Plus, the fact that it's a local business has to count for something. Maybe if you decide to pay a visit, you'll have much better luck finding it open. Check it out.. but call them up first!

Julio's doesn't typically serve chips and salsa. You can order it for like a buck though. Their rotisserie chicken rocks.
I haven't been to Julio's. But, one of my favorite little places in town - Maria's Taco Express does not serve chips and salsa unless you order it. And I love Maria's - expecially for weekend brunch. I usually think it's lame when a tex-mex place doesn't just assume chips, but I guess it depends on the place whether I care or not. Maybe they have to earn that privilege in my mind...
That's interesting. I guess I never thought about it for Maria's... because in some ways I think of them as a "taco specialty restaurant", so maybe that relieves them from chip and salsa duty. But honestly I've been there only once. Hmmm... Now I want to go to Maria's again to see if I end up caring about this.
Julio's is awesome! They close at 9 p.m everyday, and on Sundays 2 p.m. The salsa is really tasty too. Just order some, it's cheap. Cash only too (no checks/credit cards) I always forget!
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