4230 Duval, 452-1040

Mon-Thu, 8am-10pm; Fri, 8am-10pm; Sat, 9am-10pm

Julio's is a little neighborhood jewel tucked in among the restaurant crowd of Hyde Park Bar and Grill, Manga's, La Dolce Vita, and Mother's Cafe. What a treasure to the Hyde Park neighbors to have such an excellent, eclectic mix to choose from in this culinary intersection. Julio's offers simple Mexican fare based predominately on their spectacular rotisserie-roasted chicken.

Colorful art featuring chickens and a poster of dozens of varieties of fowl tips the diner off to the specialty of the house. Orders are taken at the cash register where several varieties of iced beers and sodas are available. I decided to go for the obvious and have the 1/4 roasted chicken special ($6.25), choosing the breast over the thigh and leg option. My companion was a vegetarian, so she opted for the vegetarian taco plate ($5.80), which featured a refried bean soft taco topped with cheddar and served with rice and grilled squash and zucchini.

The mahogany-colored chicken was meltingly tender, the wing released from the breast with the slightest application of pressure. The plump breast provided more than enough meat for the two soft and wonderful flour tortillas that came with the dinner. The chicken is marinated, then generously seasoned before it hits the rotisserie. The result is a flavorful bird, not at all spicy, but far from bland. The rice and beans have more attention paid to them than is usual. The pinto beans are whole, yet soft, and seasoned with pork and Mexican herbs. There is no chili in its preparation which results in a paler bowl of beans, but the flavor is not compromised at all by the lack of chili powder. The rice, too, is a cut above: fluffy and soothing and delicately seasoned.

The vegetarian taco was a satisfying handful, but its most surprising aspect was an accompaniment of thinly sliced half moons of zucchini and summer squash. The menu calls them "grilled," but they are apparently cooked on a flat grill rather than a ridged or wire grill, as there were no brown scorch marks typical of outdoor-type grilling. The care in their preparation was evident, though, as they were not too mushy (easy to do with delicate squash) and not too raw. Delicious. The veggies are also available as a side for $2.

Other menu options include breakfast tacos and migas, and variations on the chicken theme (including soup; I bet that is some fine stock!). Several of the usual suspects are present: enchiladas, fajitas, chalupas. And if the small dining room fills up, outdoor seating is available to view the interesting foot traffic courtesy of the nearby Fresh Plus grocer and other neighboring restaurants. Julio's genuine goodness, its simplicity, and its place in the charming neighborhood all come together to make it a little treasure for locals and for those who have to make the drive to get there.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Food Reviews
Restaurant Review: Nori
Restaurant Review: Nori
New plant-based Japanese concept hits the spot

Melanie Haupt, Jan. 27, 2023

Review: Peruvian Restaurant Llama Kid Is an Eastside Oasis
Review: Peruvian Restaurant Llama Kid Is an Eastside Oasis
Once a virtual concept, this modern take is really solid

Melanie Haupt, July 29, 2022

More by Barbara Chisholm
Review: <i>Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall</i>
Review: Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall
Razor-sharp language and wit elevate this coming-of-age novel

Jan. 6, 2017

Chews Wisely
Stirring It Up With Molly Ivins: A Memoir With Recipes
2011 Texas Book Festival cookbook reviews

Oct. 21, 2011


Julio's, Tex-Mex

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle