KATY, TX (KTRK) --Everyone's got a favorite uncle. Ours is named Julio, and you can drop in on him by heading west down the Katy Freeway.
Uncle Julio's might be a chain restaurant, but you wouldn't know it by the salt of the earth gentes they have working there.
PHOTOS: Take a peek inside Uncle Julio's
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Not only will they welcome you like family, we think they'll leave you as amazed as Eyewitness News was during our recent visit.
In fact, there are seven things we found that Uncle Julio's does uncommonly well, meriting a visit even if you have to brave I-10 traffic. (Trust us, it's worth it)
1. Gorgeous dining spaces
From their rich wood tables to the rustic and industrial light fixtures, you'll really dig the atmosphere of Uncle Julio's. We were really smitten by their Mexican flair, including the kaleidoscope of vibrant colors, masonry and steel decor.
2. You'll be in bar heaven
Whether you drop in for dinner or simply for happy hour, you'll find a well-appointed bar staffed with bartenders who know their stuff. Order up some table-side guacamole and check out their signature Swirl, where the tastes of Spain and Mexico collide as frozen Sangria is folded into a frozen Margarita.
The bar also features a fantastic assortment of mojitos, beer and wine. Happy hour is Monday through Friday, 3-6pm.
3. Everyone is welcome to the table
Whether you're planning for date night, a celebration or just a weeknight family dinner, the atmosphere is perfect for whoever you're inviting out to eat. The crowds are as diverse as Houston, and that means anyone will find themselves right at home here.
Dress is casual to Sunday best. Just come as you are, and you'll be sure to eat well and leave happy.
4. Ample patio space
With plush seating and outdoor fireplace access, to a variety of table options with Edison lightbulbs glowing overhead, you'll love the patio over at Uncle Julio's. If weather permits, take the party outside.
HOT TIP: Try to get a seat on the side patio, adjacent to the main dining room. If you can't sit there, the patio right outside the front entrance and bar is good, but traffic noise off the Katy Freeway may be distracting.
5. Hot playlist
If you like Spanish music, you'll really love Uncle Julio's playlist. The tunes are a good compliment to their delicious dishes, and the volume is not too loud or overpowering. In fact, the noise levels of patrons here are respectful, unlike some other chain Mexican restaurants in the area.
Ready to talk about the food? We thought so. Here are some recommendations:
6. Cowboy Queso
Uncle Julio's has a handful of good appetizer options, but we know you will not regret the Cowboy Queso. Seasoned with a variety of Mexican spices, their blend of cheeses, pico de gallo, bacon and tender beef fajita hits the spot. Ask for some tortillas. It's incredible.
7. Great enchiladas
If you are a fan, Uncle Julio's enchiladas are insanely good. Grab the cheese and onion classics, and dive into a rich dish featuring a variety of cheeses and New Mexico red sauce. If you like it spicy, grab for the creamy hatch chili sauce.
Here are a few other favorites we think you'll enjoy:
- Vegetarians: Grilled vegetable fajitas, adorn with generous helpings of mushroom, zucchini and onion
- Pescatarians: Shrimp Al Pastor fajitas, featuring seared shrimp and pineapple
- Pescatarians: Bacon-wrapped camarones
- Chocoholics: The Chocolate Pinata, filled with homemade mini churros, fresh fruit and berries. Exceptionally good.
Uncle Julio's Mexican from Scratch is located at 20526 Katy Freeway, just before Westborough Drive.
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