Julio's Tortilla Chips Review
Julio's are the best packaged corn tortilla chips I've found!
Let me start by saying there is not going to be too much emphasis on the negative in this review. I love tortilla chips in general, and although these chips are not perfect – and I will eventually get to the negative – Julio’s tortilla chips are easily my favorite of those you can buy in a store. (Among the contenders for "best," I’m not counting hot, freshly made tortilla chips from a restaurant.)
I live in Texas and discovered Julio’s chips at my local Brookshire’s grocery store several years ago. I was already hooked on Julio’s salsa and was in the store buying my fix of at least two or three little tubs of the freshly made, refrigerated stuff. The checker noticed I was buying Julio’s salsa and asked me if I had ever tried Julio’s chips. I didn’t even realize the company made chips, but with salsa that delicious, I suspected the chips must be good.
On impulse I grabbed a bag of Julio’s chips and paid for them along with my salsa. I tore the bag open as soon as I got home. After carefully tasting and considering one or two chips, I wondered how in the world I never knew these chips existed before. They’re just so much yummier than any other bagged grocery store chip I’ve found.
What makes Julio's Chips so special?
There's just something about these chips! At first glance Julio's Chips seem like all the rest. Like most tortilla chips, Julio’s chips start out as corn tortillas. Also like most other tortilla chips, they’re cut into triangles and fried to a crispy crunch.
One trait I like is that the chips are not too thick and not too thin. Also, they have no traces of greasiness. They are dusted with a reddish-brown, lightly spiced salt. According to the company's website, Julio's Tortilla Chips are seasoned with a combination of garlic, paprika, cumin and lime. The four seasonings must be very equally used, because I don't not taste any of these specifically, nor does one overpower the rest.
In my opinion, some chips are undercooked to a pale yellow, or perhaps these less delicious chips are made of white corn. Julio’s chips are made from flavorful yellow corn, and rather than being undercooked they have that toasted corn taste that my taste buds just find so irresistible.
So how do they taste?
In my opinion, these are bagged chip perfection. The toasted corn taste, combined with the salt, special spice blend and crunchy texture are way better than most foods on the planet. They are fried in corn oil. Many of the old-school Tex-Mex restaurants fry their chips in beef lard, or so I am told, and supposedly that is one reason restaurant chips are so delicious. However, corn oil is a healthier option and there's not a thing I would change about the flavor of Julio's Chips.
Julio’s Chips are delicious on their own, with a crock of my special recipe for the Best Queso Ever, crumbled into a hot big bowl of the Easiest Homemade Pinto Beans on the Planet, made into a big plate of nachos, or dipped into Julio’s salsa.
Perhaps my favorite way to eat Julio’s chips is as nachos. I place a generous layer of chips on an oven-safe dinner plate, sprinkle them with a good helping of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and pop them into a 350° oven until the cheese is melted and slightly bubbly. After removing the plate from the oven, I sprinkle the nachos with green onion slices and serve them with a large dollop of sour cream and plenty of Julio’s salsa. Julio’s nachos are certainly a treat at the end of a difficult day or a guilty pleasure in place of the healthy, low-fat lunches I am doing my best to eat.
So... what are the negatives?
If you have read this far into my "Ode to Julio's Chips," you can surely tell that I love them. The only negative is that sometimes, although rarely, I will end up with a bag that is extra salty, to the point of being too salty to be enjoyable. Also, as I'm finishing up a bag, the chips at the very bottom are usually too salty for my taste. This is especially disappointing because I can't bear to throw any of them out, and I don't want to share any of them with my kids, who love the extra-salty chips. I want them all for my own personal consumption, and I want the last chip in the bag to be just as delicious as the first.
Julio Garcia was a chef at several restaurants in Del Rio, Texas, back during the 1970s and 80s. He eventually started catering, and found his catering clients would call back a day or two after his jobs, asking for more chips and salsa. He started delivering chips and salsa, and also making them fresh every morning and delivering a daily supply every day to local grocery stores. Obsessed customers would also come to his house to purchase chips and salsa.
His special recipes were in such demand that he was finally started a commercial chip-cooking operation in his garage. Demand was so great that in 2002, the Garcia family opened a large-scale production facility in Del Rio, which produces 2.5 million tons of chips per day. Additional San Antonio production facilities followed.
Today, Julio's sons and other family members run the bulk of the business, but Julio is still very much involved. Their products, which include chips, salsa and their special seasoning blend, are available not just in Del Rio but also throughout much of the large state of Texas.
At this point you’re probably tired of me bringing up Julio’s salsa again and again. I decided it deserved it’s own mini review here with the chips review.
Julio’s salsa reminds of the salsa that was available on the tables of the Mexican restaurants I went to as a kid here in Texas during the 1970s. It is fresh, not cooked, and like Julio's Chips, has basically spoiled me for any other salsa outside of restaurant salsas. Cooked, jarred salsas now remind me of ketchup and just won't do at all since I have discovered Julio's salsa.
Julio's Salsa is tomato heavy, like most salsas. Whether you go with "mild" or "medium," you'll find that just the right amount of jalapenos and seasonings are blended into this smooth salsa.
While Julio’s chips can be purchased from Amazon.com and shipped just about anywhere, the salsa, unfortunately, requires refrigeration and is available only in grocery stores. I suppose you could call the company headquarters in Del Rio and beg for some to be shipped by air. If you're lucky, they will work something out.