Uncle Julio’s

By WL Reader GlynFP1
RESTAURANT REVIEW (Reader Review) — I recently went to the newly opened Uncle Julio’s restaurant, located at the Stonebridge Town Center, adjacent to Wegman’s. I was in a party of five for a Girls’ Night Out and we were looking forward to going somewhere new. Besides, we had heard that Uncle Julio’s had good food and good margaritas.

The restaurant was large and airy with seating both inside and out, as well as seating in a large bar area. We gave our name at the hostess’ stand and were told it would be about a 10-minute wait so we sat at a tall table in the bar area and perused the drinks menu. We were quickly provided with a basket of fresh, hot, tortilla chips and a bowl of spicy, smokey salsa.

Our first impression of the drinks menu was that the drinks are expensive, by Woodbridge standards. (Many drinks cost in the neighborhood of $10.00 or more.) There was a wide array of tequilas available as well as a “design your own margarita” feature. We asked our waiter about the classic margarita and I was crestfallen when he said the dreaded words … “sour mix.” It seems to me that if you carry good tequilas, you would not want to ruin them with sour mix. When will bars realize that when making top-drawer margaritas, and customers are paying top-dollar for same, they want fresh squeezed lime juice! Now, I did notice the words “fresh lime juice” written under the classic margarita description, so perhaps our server made a mistake.

Regardless, none of us ordered margaritas based on the fact that they were costly and might not taste good with sour mix. Two of us ordered mojitos, one ordered a “frozen sangria” and the other two ordered bottles of Corona beer at $4.50 a pop. We figured, how can you mess up a mojito? Well, we found out how. First, they came in short fat glasses which, once ice was added, could not have contained more than six ounces total of liquid. Second, the mojitos did not have enough lime juice and were too sweet. Third, we could not detect the rum. We all concurred that we don’t mind spending $10.00 for a drink if it’s a good drink and you need only one. The mojitos failed the test.

After about 15 minutes we were seated at a large round table outside on the patio. It was pleasant Saturday evening and a good night for al fresco dining. We shared a large order of guacamole and some of the ladies at the table switched over to gin and tonics, made with the house gin. They were about $8.00 apiece (for house gin!) but the ladies proclaimed they were better than the mojitos. The guacamole was tasty and seemingly fresh. It took us a while to order our main dishes, during which time we asked for more chips and salsa and water all around. The person who was tasked with providing chips and salsa for the tables literally ignored us when we caught his eye with a signal. This happened twice and we never did get our fresh basket of chips. We asked our waiter for water when we ordered our guacamole, then asked the server for water when he brought our guacamole, then asked our waiter again for water when he took our order for the main dishes. It took more than half an hour to get our water and it arrived just as our main courses arrived.

The menu is what you might expect from some Mexican chain restaurants, however all of the ingredients tasted very fresh and the food was well-prepared. Several at the table ordered a combo platter of mesquite-grilled shrimp with beef fajitas, one ordered the fish tacos (three for around $13.00) and I ordered the brochette of mesquite-grilled butterflied shrimp stuffed with cheese and wrapped in bacon (around $21.00).The orders came with a side of seasoned rice, some fresh pico de gallo and a small bowl of red beans. Sour cream and cheese to accompany the fajitas cost extra. My dish had six good-sized shrimp and a dipping sauce that seemed to be a butter-based sauce of some kind, which was tasty. The beans were soupy–deliberately so–and contained large chunks of fresh tomato and onion. I liked them but the soupy texture and chunks of veggies turned off some of my dining companions. A comedy of errors ensued when the server brought only four tortillas, total, for three people eating fajitas, and when more were requested we were given more than we could have possibly eaten. That said, the tortillas were warm and good.

The menu included a few vegetarian selections as well as tacos, burritos, tamales, flautas, enchiladas and meal-sized salads. The tacos, enchiladas, etc., can be combined in a multitude of ways for a satisfying platter of food. There were a few pork dishes on the menu and, surprisingly, a couple of dishes featuring frogs’ legs. I thought there would be more seafood offerings. The only ones I noticed were grilled shrimp in various guises, one salmon dish and the tilapia in the fish tacos. There was a grilled chicken breast dish and one rib-eye steak item on the menu. There was also a kids’ menu.

Everyone was satisfied with their main meals. They declared their dishes to be well prepared and fresh tasting. We followed up with a shared platter of sopapillas, which were hot and airy and served with honey.

The waiter had no problem with giving us separate checks, at our request. He even split the price of the guacamole between our bills.

Our overall impression of Uncle Julio’s is that we would return if we heard the drinks were better. If you are a teetotaler, you won’t have any complaints! My bill came to about $38.00, including tax and tip, for a mojito, butterflied shrimp with sides and shared guacamole. The service was definitely spotty, but that will probably improve as the kinks are worked out and the food was good.
~GlynFP1~

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review is from one of our readers, not from the staff of Woodbridge Living. Our policy at WL is to be fair and open and let readers say what they think.

IF YOU GO:
Uncle Julio’s Fine Mexican Cuisine
14900 Potomac Town Place, Suite 150
Map
Website: Uncle Julio’s

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