The bad news is you can usually count on a long wait. The good news is the waiting is as much fun as the dining, provided you've got a Swirl in hand—a beautiful blend of frozen margarita and frozen sangria, Uncle Julio's signature concoction. As you chill at the Mexico-size bar, baskets of paper-thin, perfectly salted tortilla chips and salsa (another liven-up-the-wait treat) keep on coming as fast as you can inhale them. But try to save some room for dinner. Trust me.
Fresh is the first word that comes to mind when I think of (or dream of) the Mexican fare at Uncle Julio's. Expect the usual suspects (enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, combination plates) as well as unexpected dishes like quail, frog legs and smoked pork ribs, all sided with black beans, rice, pico de gallo, fresh guacamole and homemade flour tortillas. You don't have to be a vegetarian to appreciate the vegetable fajitas, made with roasted potatoes, grilled squash, zucchini and portobello mushrooms. For a lighter meal, try one of three ensalada grandes (espanol for big salads) topped with chicken, beef, shrimp or grilled Portobello. The prices are reasonable, especially considering the monstrous portions.
Take advantage of outdoor seating if the weather cooperates. Inside or out, the vibe is upbeat and festive, so bring the family, friends and anyone else who knows how to have a good time. If it's date night and your companion isn't the king (or queen) of conversation, don't panic...you can't hear much over all of the hustle and bustle anyway.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Natalie Goldstein