Bartender Chat: Eddie of Julia's Bistro

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After passing by many times on the way to or from Big Top or Continental Club, I finally hopped the Metro to visit Julia's, the Latin-fusion bistro at the corner of Main and West Alabama. It was 5 p.m. on Tuesday when I walked through the vibrant dining room, grabbed a seat, ordered a glass of wine and got to talkin' with Eddie, the man behind the L-shaped bar.

Originally from Tampico, Mexico, Eddie has called Houston home for the past 16 years and is no stranger to the service industry. After waiting tables for several years, he decided to ditch the floor and get behind the bar about two months ago. "I like to interact with people," he says, "and it's just more personal behind the bar".

He gets lots of regulars -- people who live in the neighborhood and folks who work in the Med Center and downtown who stop in frequently for drinks and appetizers. They especially dig Eddie's caipirinha, and starting in February, Julia's will feature a flavored caipirinha-of-the-month, kicking it off with the blackberry version, which I sampled (It was pretty damn good).

"We're very busy at lunch because of our location," Eddie tells us, "and dinner usually is more relaxed, but we've been working really hard on getting our happy hour just right." Mondays through Fridays from 5 to 7 p.m., Julia's offers discounted appetizers and small plates along with $3 well drinks and margaritas and $5 glasses of wine.

The most recent happy hour menu featured hongos machos ($4, Monterey button mushrooms/ cilantro/ garlic/ red pepper/ chile de arbol) and tostadita de ceviche ($6, citrus infused snapper/ shrimp/ jalapenos/ tomato/ onion/ cilantro/ fried corn tortilla). The chefs like to use fresh, seasonal ingredients, and the happy hour small plates menu is constantly changing, so you can always find something new and tasty to nibble on. On Thursdays for happy hour, the bistro offers a special tapas menu that isn't available on the regular menu, so if you're looking for variety, Thursday might be your best bet.

When Eddie is done slingin' drinks for the day, he goes home to relax with a glass of wine or a good mixed drink. "What I drink depends on my mood or how rough the day was, you know?" I think we all know. Some days are just whiskey days.

Julia's Bistro is located at 3722 Main St., a hop, skip and jump from the Ensemble/HCC light-rail stop. Swing by to check out happy hour or Thursday tapas specials, and say hi to Eddie. You can visit Julia's site or Facebook for more info.

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