Uncle Julio’s Chicago


Benito’s platter

Juanita’s platter



*** (3 stars)

Uncle Julio’s serves pretty good TexMex for a chain restaurant. The place is large and can get quite noisy, but the front rooms and the side patio are quieter.

I really liked my Patron skinny margarita. It was indistinguishable from a regular margarita with only 120 calories. Deal!

I had the Benito’s combo. The chicken enchilada and pork tamale were excellent, but the chile relleno had absolutely no flavor in the breading, the chile itself or the cheese filling. The beans and rice were good.

Service was prompt and friendly.

Uncle Julio’s Chicago
855 W North Ave
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 266-4222

On The Border

**** (4 stars)

This turned out to be a surprisingly good choice for breakfast before our flight. Located in a bright, open space with a nice view of the runway, they offer a short but tasty breakfast menu.

The breakfast burrito was stuffed with fluffy scrambled eggs (although there could have been more bacon). And the yogurt parfait was light and fruity.

We were in and out in thirty minutes.

On The Border
Orlando International Airport
One Jeff Fuqua Blvd
Orlando, FL 32827


Chili’s Grill & Bar

*** (3 stars)

This is the Chili’s you’re looking for. Assuming you’re looking for a Chili’s. And if you are, then you know why, so I don’t need to tell you. And this one is just like that. Same floor plan, same decor, same menu.

This one has excellent service, too. Perhaps better than you’re expecting.

Of course, the struggle at Chili’s is to have a meal that contains less than an entire day’s allotment of calories. There are limited options in that regard. I like the ancho salmon, which is pretty good. And only about 500 calories. I have to say the broccoli that came with it was perfectly cooked and delicious… dipped in the ranch dressing… that came with the loaded boneless chicken wings. But that’s another story.

Chili’s Grill & Bar
3142 Daniels Rd
Winter Garden, FL 34787
(407) 877-0796

Habaneros Metro West


**** (4 stars)

Metrowest really needs a sit down Mexican restaurant since the sorely missed Taquitos Jalisco closed several years ago. Habaneros fills the bill adequately, but it will need to overcome the same liabilities that put the last three tenants of this space out of business: namely, location, location, location. The building is invisible from the street, there is almost no signage space, and the parking lot is across the street and behind a fence. (Why the developer put the parking lot on the lake, where it has the best view of the entire development is beyond me.)

Anyhow, the food at Habanero is freshly prepared, looks appealing, and tastes good. The salsa is a bit bland, but the chips are very good.

I had a dinner combo that included an enchilada, relleno and taco. The taco shell was particularly good, a crisp house-made tortilla completely unlike the fast food kind you find most places.

Service was quick and friendly, and the interior of the place (unchanged from previous tenants) is still gorgeous. I wish this small, family-owned chain luck in this terrible but lovely location. Habaneros is definitely worth a visit if you can find it.

Habaneros Metro West
6996 Piazza Grande Ave
Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32835
(407) 757-2541

Tijuana Flats

**** (4 stars)

This local chain provides good Tex Mex food in a friendly atmosphere. For a counter service restaurant there is surprisingly good service at every location I’ve been to. Taco Tuesdays offers a particularly good deal, although I prefer the salads or fish tacos, which aren’t part of that deal. The highlight is the ever-changing hot sauce bar which arranges ¬†about ten sauces from mild to killer.

Tijuana Flats
2320 S. Kirkman Rd.
Orlando, FL 32811
(407) 822-4257


***** (5 stars)

This is an excellent addition to Orlando’s Tex-Me dining scene, easily outshining nearby offerings.

Service, even during opening week, was efficient and almost overwhelmingly friendly.

The margarita had a perfect balance between lime, orange and a healthy pour of tequila.

Tortilla chips are paper thin and not at all greasy. There are eight sauces on tap ranging from mild to medium.

I had the appetizer plate as my lunch entree, and everything on it was quite good. I particularly liked the queso, which had a nice kick to it.

In case you’re wondering, the name is pronounced “chewies”!

8123 International Dr
Orlando, FL 32819
(407) 730-3602

Las Palmas Restaurant & Bar

**** (4 stars)

I was hesitant to try this place because of the reviews, and I’m a bit of a Tex Mex snob. But I have to say that their premium margarita is killer. Maybe no one tries it because it’s $11 bucks, but it was worth it: top of the line Sauza and Gran Marnier.

I had the veggie fajitas, which were an amazing spread for $7.95.

Service on a quiet Friday afternoon was attentive. I’d go back.

Las Palmas Restaurant & Bar
817 University Pl
Evanston, IL 60201
(847) 328-2555