In 1982, Chuy’s founders Mike Young and John Zapp looked at an old, abandoned barbecue joint near Barton Springs and saw potential for a funky Tex-Mex restaurant that would eventually become an Austin icon with nearly 100 locations nationwide.

The Tex-Mex chain has expanded to 17 states since its inception 40 years ago in April 1982, with five restaurants in the Austin area. The menu features dishes influenced by the cuisine of New Mexico, northern Mexican border towns, Austin and beyond.

“It’s been one of those companies that stuck to its roots for so long,” said Abel Fragoso, general manager at the Chuy’s Arbor Trails location in Southwest Austin. “We opened the first one 40 years ago, but the growth didn’t really occur until more recently—in the last decade. So that’s 30 years of just focusing on scratch-made food and quality.”

Fragoso joined Chuy’s in March 2018. Three menu items, he said, stand out when he talks to restaurantgoers— the creamy jalapeno dip, Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas and house-made margaritas.

The Chuy’s restaurant at the Shops at Arbor Trails in Southwest Austin, like all of the franchise’s locations, has distinctive decor touches that hail back to the original eatery. Among these are hand-carved wooden fish imported from a village in Mexico “swimming” in the air above the bar, and shiny hubcaps covering the ceiling of one dining room.

In addition to serving up local favorites, Chuy’s makes giving back to the community a priority. Each time a new location is opened, the restaurant holds a fundraiser for a local charity.

Its long-standing partnership with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has raised over $1 million for children’s cancer research and treatment. For National Burrito Day on April 7, Chuy’s donated $1 to St. Jude for every burrito sold.

“Giving back to the community is a privilege—we’re lucky that we’re able to give back so much,” said Stephanie Kralik, a field marketing manager for Chuy’s restaurants. “It’s very ingrained in our culture.”

What’s on the menu?

Chuy’s customer favorites include:

  1. Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom Enchiladas

  2. Creamy jalapeno dip

  3. House-made margaritas

Chuy’s Arbor Trails

4301 W. William Cannon Drive, Austin

512-899-2489 |

Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.