While many local establishments' Hatch chile celebrations are winding down, Chuy's is just getting started. Their annual Hatch Chile Festival began August 20 and will continue through September 9, which means there's plenty of time to try their limited-time-only Hatch chile menu.
Those Hatch chile specials were my second reason for visiting Chuy's just a few days after the start of the festival. My primary motivation was to snag some of the cool gear (buttons! bumper stickers!) the restaurant hands out gratis during this time. I have buttons from the 2011 festival, and now, with the addition of these 2012 buttons, I'm certainly on my way to a collection that will, I predict, sell on eBay for about a million dollars.
The 2012 Hatch Chile Menu includes many alluring and extremely reasonably priced dishes. I settled on the "El Presidente," which promised a tortilla stacked with fried eggs, beef strips, Hatch chile sauce, charro beans and cheese. Unlike two of my dining companions, I did not request a complimentary side of Hatch chiles. No tears over that choice, as the "side" turned out to be a minute plastic container of shriveled (roasted?) chiles.
"Where are the eggs?" was my initial reaction when our server Curtis delivered my platter. Purely for the sake of presentation, I like entrées that include eggs to have the ova front and center. Chuy's had hidden its eggs underneath the other toppings, allowing the green chile sauce to take center stage (understandable).
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Sadly, the eggs were overdone; I had looked forward to a burst of yolk that would flood the accompanying beans and rice but encountered only solid yolks -- and cold ones at that. The El Presidente was still very satisfying, however, thanks to the rich chile sauce and tender, flavorful beef strips. Chuy's doesn't offer the melt-in-your-mouth type of beef from a top-notch source (like at The Original Ninfa's), but they still manage to deliver some luscious cow flesh thanks to careful cooking and good seasoning.
If you're a Chuy's fan, it's worth visiting during the Hatch Chile Festival. If I go again, I might even give the El Presidente a second shot, though the Green Chile Stew is also calling my name.