Dear Chuy Arzola's: Please Don't Change Lunch

Aug 2, 2011 at 11:00 am

Welcome to Lunch Bucket List, a recurring feature in which Gut Check checks out the many lunch specials available at restaurants around town. Know a lunch special we should check out? Drop us a line.

The Austin from Chuy Arzola's - Robin Wheeler
Robin Wheeler
The Austin from Chuy Arzola's

The Place: Chuy Arzola's (3701 Lindell Boulevard; 314-644-4430), one of the oldest names in Tex-Mex restaurants in St. Louis. A few years ago, it changed ownership and moved from Dogtown to Midtown. Now it's preparing to move to a new location on Laclede Avenue in between Grand and Vandeventer. (The decision on changing its name hasn't yet been made.)

The Deal: Chuy's fifteen-minutes-or-less lunch menu, which features seven entrée options, a nonalcoholic beverage, chips and salsa, and dessert for $9.99

With the upcoming changes at Chuy's, let's hope its lunch special stays the same.

The fifteen-minute-or-less guarantee is often a giant warning sign that lunch is going to be premade slop. This isn't the case at Chuy's. Their smartly planned menu sticks with dishes that can be prepped quickly without sacrificing quality, and this includes its signature dish, the Austin. Two oversized flautas stuffed with mildly spiced shredded chicken are deep-fried until they're flaky and crispy and then topped with a rich cheese sauce and a big dollop of guacamole. They arrive on a giant platter with big portions of corn-speckled Mexican rice, creamy refried beans, and a scoop of jalapeño-heavy pico de gallo.

The beef nachos supreme are piled high with the same peppery cheese, beef, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and sour cream. It's a giant, spicy meal that might induce a post-lunch siesta.

Sopapillas and chocolate cake are offered for dessert. Although chocolate cake doesn't seem like a good fit for Tex-Mex, Chuy's opts for Texas sheet-cake-style cake. The generous single-layer square could almost pass for an airy, cakey brownie topped with a thin layer of sweet fudge icing dusted with confectioner's sugar.

Chocolate cake, Tex-Mex-style - Robin Wheeler
Robin Wheeler
Chocolate cake, Tex-Mex-style

The Verdict: With fresh and flavorful dishes and generous portions, Chuy's is a great lunch bargain in a no-fuss, easy-going environment. It doesn't need to be changed.