Sometimes a bar/restaurant comes along and just works. Even though Chimy’s Cerveceria opened only a few weeks ago, it seems like it’s been around for years. The place, apparently, is the place to be.
Could it because of Chimy’s tiki patio, a small, square concrete enclave cordoned off by towering bamboo poles? Well, there are other spots nearby, from Montgomery Plaza to the Cultural District, that also have cool patios. (Bubba Bahama’s, Fred’s Texas Café, Jack’s Off the Wall.) Maybe it’s Chimy’s kitschy, tropical décor. Ehhh, we doubt anyone goes there just to marvel at the neon beer signs, wooden tables and chairs, and dreadful yet dreadfully charming murals of coastal life. (On one wall is a sculptural painting of a fisherman in a boat. His rod protrudes slightly from the wall, and his “fishing line” — actually a string of tiny white lights — stretches across the ceiling to the opposite wall and into the mouth of a sculptural painting of a jumping fish.)
Then it’s the service, right? Nah. Unless your idea of good service is ogling cute, young, All-American waitresses or studly bartenders, you’re better off going to a joint where everyone on staff waits tables for a living. In all honesty, it may be Chimy’s food, because it’s not half-bad. It’s not great, by any stretch, but it has its charms. It’s a few steps up from Taco Cabana, a flight of stairs down from El Asadero, Café Acapulco, and Fort Worth’s several other superior Mex-Mex and Tex-Mex diners, and almost on par with Fuzzy’s Tacos. “Almost” because Fuzzy’s signature dish, the fish burrito, is better than Chimy’s Gut Rocket, a massive “Chimy Changa” (beef or chicken) that’s short on stuffing and long on tortilla. (Then again, Fuzzy’s fish burrito is better than a lot of things, including free beer and new sneakers.) I had to muddle through about half of my chicken fajita Gut Rocket before I got to any chicken.
On the other hand, Chimy’s green chile chicken quesadilla rules the roost: a huge flour tortilla folded in half, chopped into quarters, and stuffed with spicy chicken, beans, green chiles, and pepperjack cheese. The wrapping could barely contain the juicy chunks of bird inside, and with a smear of sour cream and some of Chimy’s perfectly cooked, perfectly spiced queso, they sang. All of that sweetness, fire, smoothness, and refreshment going on in one warm, doughy tortilla might make every trip to Chimy’s worthwhile. The crispy beef tacos were another treat: hearty and, at the low price of $1.98 for two, one helluva bargain. They were huge — you needed both hands to handle one — and packed with moist, sweet meat and tangy melted cheddar. The shells had just the right consistency: not too brittle, not too soft. A taco seldom makes or breaks a restaurant — even the world’s greatest taco is still, y’know, just meat, cheese, and dressing in a tortilla. But along with their smooth, incredibly dense veggie soft tacos (refried beans, onions, and cheese), Chimy’s crispy beef bad boys represent their ’hood well. Yo.
A condiment bar can’t make or break a restaurant either. But Chimy’s diced tomatoes, onions, and jalapeños, and the ingredients in the pico de gallo all tasted as if they’d fallen off the vine just a few hours earlier. There’s another Chimy’s, the original, in Lubbock, and it has a reputation as a food-optional party spot. In a few months or years, you might be able to say the same for the Chimy’s here. The tiki patio, the cheeky interior decoration, the sylphlike waitresses and hunky bartenders, the solid, filling grub — no single element can make for a great place to eat or drink. But they all come together at Chimy’s. Somehow.