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 tempting starters, but we finally agree on the BBQ chicken quesadilla and bacon-
For the quesadilla, fluffy flour tortillas made in-house are generously filled with pulled roastedchicken, homemade barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and Monterey jack cheese, then griddled to a crispy exterior. The stuffed tortilla triangles are served with freshly made guacamole and sour cream.
Served over a chipotle honey sauce, four jumbo shrimp are stuffed with minced habanero pepper and queso fresco, then wrapped with smoked bacon slices and grilled over a mesquite wood fire.
“Well, let me start by saying those shrimp are really nice and plump, the way I like them,” Barbara says, “and smoky tasting, with the bacon and how they were prepared. And, oh that sauce!”
Then she adds, “And for something as simple as a quesadilla, this is probably one of the best I have ever had. They didn’t skimp on the chicken. It’s not all tortilla and cheese! Just like I would make at home. Love it.”
Cindy agrees, “That chicken is flavored with a great tasting barbecue sauce, and the quesadilla overall is large enough to share for a meal, it’s so hearty. The sauces for both dishes are a little bit sweet, a little bit hot, and a whole lot of good!”
Wanda adds, “They’ve done a nice job of balancing out their sweet and spicy flavors in each dish. All the sauces are definitely slightly sweet, but have a finish that is also spicy. You kind of feel the spiciness in the back of the throat. Sometimes when they add chipotle to a sauce, it can be so hot it’s not enjoyable. But these are delicious.”
Entrees: Chicken & Steak Fajitas, Honey Chipotle Salmon
We know Uncle Julio’s is famous for their fajitas, so this is an obvious selection. Several condiments and soft warm tortillas accompany the fajitas, which are grilled chicken breast and tender cuts of Midwestern grain-fed steak. The fajitas are served on a bed of sautéed bell peppers and sweet onion, all topped with melted Mexican butter for a extra, delicious touch.
Flavored rice and frijoles a la charra come alongside. “Wow, the steak is great, cooked perfectly,” Barbara observes. “I don’t normally get steak fajitas in most Tex-Mex restaurants because they are usually tough and chewy, but these are so juicy and fork tender. I am enjoying it without any of the condiments. I wonder what they marinated them in to give them so much flavor.”
“I think it helps that the slices of steak and chicken are thick, so they are not overdone,” Wanda points out. “Sometimes they are sliced so thin that by the time you get through the char, there’s no meat left. And the addition of the Mexican butter doesn’t hurt!”
A generous sized salmon filet is mesquite grilled and glazed with honey chipotle sauce. Cilantro rice with tiny bits of sweet corn kernels and pineapple pico de gallo complete the dish.
“The pineapple salsa and the cilantro rice are perfect complements to the salmon,” Cindy notes. “The pico is refreshing with the fruit, bell pepper, and jalapeno, and that’s a thick salmon filet and yet it’s cooked through without being overdone. Truthfully, I wasn’t particularly in 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 caramelized sugar and milk. For the dessert, a large ball of vanilla ice cream is rolled in toasted coconut and chopped pecans, then frozen. For serving, it is topped with cajeta and freshly whipped cream. Flan is a traditional creamy egg custard, this day lightly infused with coconut, topped with additional toasted coconut and whipped cream, swimming in a luscious sea of caramel.
“With all the great flavors going on in the cajeta dessert, it tastes like an ice cream sundae on a spoon,” Barbara observes. “And the silky texture of the flan is spot on, not tough or curdled.”
“Conventional cajeta is made with goat’s milk. I wonder 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.”
To everyone’s amusement, Cindy shares, “Well, I was going to finish off the flan until Wanda said it was enough for four people to share!”
“It would be hard to pick a favorite today,” Barbara reports. “There were aspects of every dish I enjoyed.”
“Well I don’t make flan, so I would vote for that,” Wanda confesses. “And as far as something different, the chicken quesadilla was really good, and the salmon was a perfect summer dish.”
Cindy says, “I agree with both of you, everything was delicious, and we barely scratched the surface of the wonderful dishes offered here. I anticipate a return trip very soon.”
Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant
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