The colorful restaurant Uncle Julio’s in the Village at Allen is hard to miss, with it’s towering yellow entry way and blue, pink and orange patio. The exterior is quite different than the original Uncle Julio’s established in 1986 on the corner of Lemmon and Douglas avenues in the Oak Lawn area of Dallas. However the food remains, as always, excellent.
Joining us today is Wanda Parker, one of the Top Ten Women of Collin County. She was selected to represent Plano Symphony Orchestra, for which she has been a dedicated volunteer for nearly 15 years. Wanda is also known for her at-home culinary skills, so we hope the Tex-Mex dishes we try today will delight her. Perusing the menu, it looks most promising!
Starters: Chipotle BBQ Chicken Quesadilla, Habanero Honey Bacon Shrimp
There are a number of temptingstarters, but we finally agree on theBBQ chicken quesadilla and bacon-
For the quesadilla, fluffy flourtortillas made in-house aregenerously filled with pulled roastedchicken, homemade barbecue sauce,caramelized onions, and Montereyjack cheese, then griddled to a crispy exterior. The stuffed tortillatriangles are served with freshly made guacamole and sour cream.
Served over a chipotle honey sauce, four jumbo shrimp are stuffedwith minced habanero pepper and queso fresco, then wrapped withsmoked bacon slices and grilled over a mesquite wood fire.
“Well, let me start by saying those shrimpare really nice and plump, the way I like them,”Barbara says, “and smoky tasting, with the baconand how they were prepared. And, oh that sauce!”
Then she adds, “And for something as simple asa quesadilla, this is probably one of the best I haveever had. They didn’t skimp on the chicken. It’snot all tortilla and cheese! Just like I would makeat home. Love it.”
Cindy agrees, “That chicken is flavored with a great tasting barbecuesauce, and the quesadilla overall is large enough to share for a meal, it’sso hearty. The sauces for both dishes are a little bit sweet, a little bithot, and a whole lot of good!”
Wanda adds, “They’ve done a nice job of balancing out their sweetand spicy flavors in each dish. All the sauces are definitely slightlysweet, but have a finish that is also spicy. You kind of feel the spicinessin the back of the throat. Sometimes when they add chipotle to asauce, it can be so hot it’s not enjoyable. But these are delicious.”
Entrees: Chicken & Steak Fajitas, Honey ChipotleSalmon
We know Uncle Julio’s is famous for their fajitas, sothis is an obvious selection. Several condiments andsoft warm tortillas accompany the fajitas, which aregrilled chicken breast and tender cuts of Midwesterngrain-fed steak. The fajitas are served on a bed ofsautéed bell peppers and sweet onion, all topped withmelted Mexican butter for a extra, delicious touch.
Flavored rice and frijoles a la charra come alongside.“Wow, the steak is great, cooked perfectly,” Barbaraobserves. “I don’t normallyget steak fajitas in mostTex-Mex restaurantsbecause they are usuallytough and chewy, butthese are so juicy andfork tender. I am enjoyingit without any of thecondiments. I wonderwhat they marinated themin to give them so much flavor.”
“I think it helps that the slices of steak and chickenare thick, so they are not overdone,” Wanda points out.“Sometimes they are sliced so thin that by the timeyou get through the char, there’s no meat left. And theaddition of the Mexican butter doesn’t hurt!”
A generous sized salmon filet is mesquite grilled andglazed with honey chipotle sauce. Cilantro rice withtiny bits of sweet corn kernels and pineapple pico degallo complete the dish.
“The pineapple salsa and the cilantro rice are perfectcomplements to the salmon,” Cindy notes. “The pico isrefreshing with the fruit, bell pepper, and jalapeno, andthat’s a thick salmon filet and yet it’s cooked throughwithout being overdone. Truthfully, I wasn’t particularlyin the mood for salmon, but I am glad we ordered this.This dish is something I would come back for.”
Desserts: Cajeta, Coconut Flan
Cajeta is a thick, dark syrup made with caramelizedsugar and milk. For the dessert, a large ball of vanillaice cream is rolled in toasted coconut and choppedpecans, then frozen. For serving, it is topped withcajeta and freshly whipped cream. Flan is a traditionalcreamy egg custard, this day lightly infused withcoconut, topped with additional toasted coconut andwhipped cream, swimming in a luscious sea of caramel.
“With all the great flavors going on in the cajetadessert, it tastes like an ice cream sundae on a spoon,”Barbara observes. “And the silky texture of the flan isspot on, not tough or curdled.”
“Conventional cajeta is made with goat’s milk. Iwonder if that’s how they made this,” Wanda ponders.“And this is the largest serving of flan I’ve ever seen;four people could easily share this dessert.”
Toeveryone’samusement,Cindyshares,“Well, I wasgoing tofinish off theflan until Wanda said it was enough forfour people to share!”
“It would be hard to pick a favoritetoday,” Barbara reports. “There wereaspects of every dish I enjoyed.”
“Well I don’t make flan, so I wouldvote for that,” Wanda confesses. “And asfar as something different, the chickenquesadilla was really good, and thesalmon was a perfect summer dish.”
Cindy says, “I agree with both of you,everything was delicious, and we barelyscratched the surface of the wonderfuldishes offered here. I anticipate a returntrip very soon.”
Uncle Julio’s MexicanRestaurant
190 E. Stacy Rd., Allen
Mon-Thu:11:00 am – 10:30 pm
Fri:11:00 am – 11:30 pm
Sat:10:00 am – 11:30 pm
Sun:10:00 am – 10:30 pm
PHOTOGRAPHY: Cindy Boykin