Have you been craving delicious Mexican food? Wonderful news! You can scarf down at your nearby Chuy’s Mexican Food restaurant! They have several vegan options for you to choose from and they are all so good! Read on to find out how to eat vegan at Chuy’s.
Chuy’s holds a very special place in my heart and happens to be one of my family’s favorite restaurants. It originated in my hometown of Austin, TX, and has thankfully started to spread out across the country. This makes me happy because the military has moved us to many different places and it’s been nice to be able to feel like I’m back at home in my grandma’s kitchen, at their various locations.
Here's a vegan version of their Chiles Rellenos that you might love!
Chuy’s has a fun and energetic atmosphere. It’s the type of restaurant where you don’t have to worry about being too loud or whether or not you're dressed nicely enough. It’s great for large groups, family outings, or date nights. They have various eclectic-themed rooms in the restaurant and a vibrant outdoor seating area under a tiki hut canopy. You might be seated in an old-school vinyl car seat with Pancho Villa and Elvis Presley pictures around you. Or, your spot might have chihuahua dogs painted on the wall and a bunch of framed pictures of cute dogs. You might also check with your local Chuy’s to see if they offer a free appetizer or entree in exchange for a framed picture of your furry pup, as many of them do this.
Franklin, TN, just south of Nashville, received the first Chuy’s outside of Austin. Now, there are over 90 locations from Texas to Colorado and Michigan to Florida. You can see the growing list here: https://www.chuys.com/locations.
The food at Chuy’s is actually considered Tex-Mex, so you might notice some differences between its dishes as compared to classic Mexican food. Tex-Mex can range in flavors that are based out of different border towns of Texas and Mexico, even some from New Mexico. For example, some of their chili peppers are from Hatch, New Mexico. Hatch green chiles have an irresistible flavor with a nice kick. If you’re ever in Southern New Mexico, I encourage you to visit Hatch and try some of these chiles at their local restaurants.
Some special things about Chuy’s
- Once you're seated, you’ll receive complimentary fresh chips and salsa.
- The delicious guacamole is made in small batches all throughout the day.
- The tortillas are handmade and literally cooked on a large comal there at the restaurant!
- Practically everything is made fresh, from the salsas and sauces to the beans and rice.
- The only items they have in their freezer are fries and ice cream for kids' meals.
Heads up... you may have a wait if you go during peak times. That’s proof that this place is good!
Vegan Menu Options
I’m happy to say that their beans, rice, and tortillas are vegan! It is hard to find a Mexican restaurant that doesn’t use beef broth and possibly dairy in their refried beans, lard in the tortillas, or chicken stock in the rice, but Chuy’s doesn’t!
Their menu can vary by location, so it’s best to go to their website to see what your local Chuy’s has to offer. Every table has a QR code for you to scan with your smartphone so you can see the most recent menu. A limited menu was put in place amidst the COVID pandemic but we have been assured that they will start to reintroduce more options soon. Meal prices range between $10-$15.
Here is a link to their menu https://www.chuys.com/menu. Notice that the vegetarian items are marked for their customers with a circled “M” with a line running through it. You can start with these items and then modify your order by saying no cheese, no sour cream, etc.
The list of options below was verified by speaking to two different restaurant managers, one in Franklin, TN, and the other in Austin, TX, and a representative from their headquarters in May of 2021. I was informed that they no longer provide a vegan menu because there is always the potential of these vegan food items coming in contact with animal products at the restaurants.
Note: Because this restaurant also serves meat and dairy products, there is the possibility of your food coming in contact with it. You should keep this in mind when making the decision to eat at Chuy’s. I personally appreciate the way they have added more and more vegan options to their menu over the years and hope they keep it going.
Chuy's Vegan Appetizers
- Chips - The chips are thin, crispy, and addictive.
- Salsa - This red salsa has a bit of a kick to it and pairs perfectly with the chips.
- Guacamole - Their guacamole is full of amazing flavor and made fresh throughout the day.
- Nachos - Order this without the cheese. They come with refried beans, jalapenos, pico de gallo, and lettuce.
- Taco Salad - Order this without cheese or meat. It will come with lettuce, tortilla strips, tomatoes, and guacamole.
- Mexi-Cobb Salad - Order this without chicken and cheese. It comes with lettuce, avocado, green chiles, and tomatoes.
- Cilantro Vinaigrette Salad Dressing - This is currently the only vegan salad dressing.
- Bean Big as Yo Face Burrito - Order without cheese and either tomatillo or ranchero sauce. This huge meal comes with a side of Mexican rice, lettuce, and tomatoes.
- Guacamole Soft Tacos - Order without the cheese. These soft tacos come with a heaping amount of guacamole and are topped with lettuce and tomatoes. This dish comes with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice. These tacos are light and fresh, but if you want more of a hearty bite, add some rice and beans to your tacos. You can request these as crispy tacos if you prefer.
- Veggie Enchiladas - Order these without cheese and either tomatillo or ranchero sauce. They come with blue corn tortillas stuffed with sauteed peppers, onions, zucchini, and squash. The veggie enchiladas come with a side of refried beans and Mexican rice. Note, this dish was not included in their limited menu, but I haven’t had an issue getting it by simply requesting it from the server.
- Mexican Rice - This light, fluffy rice has a delicious Spanish flavor with diced tomato throughout.
- Green Chile Rice - This rice is a bit spicier than their Mexican rice but just as tasty.
- Refried beans - The refried beans are creamy, mashed up pinto beans loaded with flavor.
- Charro beans - These are pinto beans with diced onion and chile. They are a bit spicier than the refried beans.
- Tortillas - All of the tortillas (flour, corn, wheat, and blue corn) are vegan. They are made fresh daily and come out so warm.
- Fries - The fries typically come with kids' meals, but they are certainly an option for adult meals.
- Ranchero - Chuy’s ranchero sauce is a red, mildly spicy sauce. This sauce is made with fire-roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro, and caramelized onions.
- Tomatillo - This green sauce is made with green tomatillos, onions, cilantro, and garlic. The tomatillo sauce is my favorite as it has a uniquely delicious spicy tang to it.
- Bean Burrito - Order this without the cheese. It comes with ranchero sauce and a side of Mexican rice.
What I Recommend
I have tried all of the vegan options above and my review of them is all positive. My absolute favorite order though is to start with the chips, salsa, and a side of guacamole. I like to put a little bit of guac and salsa on each chip before I munch down! For my main meal, I LOVE the “Big as Yo’ Face” bean burrito (no cheese) with Mexican rice. Warning: The burrito is huge so I always have leftovers! A similar a la carte option that I’ve enjoyed for a lighter lunch, is an order of flour tortillas, a side of refried beans, and a side of Mexican rice. Then I use these sides to create a few smaller bean and rice tacos.
I hope this helps you on your next visit to Chuy’s Mexican Food restaurant!
Be sure to check out my tips on How to Eat Out as a Vegan.