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Me & Uncle Julio + Boogs (Not Too Far From The Schoolyard)

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

Uncle Julio's

Coastland Center

2096 9th St N,

Naples, FL 34102

Uncle Julio's violates so many of the Rules (click it, I dare you), or Rules that I need to add to that list, that any semi-frequent reader of this blather may be wondering "Mr. Bites, why are you even GOING to a place like Uncle Julio's?"

I know, I know. It's a chain, it's in a mall, I'm pretty sure CEO G Thomas "Tom" Vogel is not of Mexican descent and I'm definitely sure he doesn't go by "Uncle Julio" to his friends.

So...why are we swimming in the waters of hypocrisy here?

Because that's where Boogs wanted to go and I was in sweatpants on a Wednesday night with little to zero energy to change my clothes.

Note the resemblance:

But, but...aren't you raising your child against all the principles of food and dining that you hold dear enough to attempt to share them with the world?

Yes, BUT, food should be a willing experience. How many of you DESPISE horrible, soggy, fart-inducing brussel sprouts because you were forced to eat them as a kid..yet flash forward and pretty much every good-to-great restaurant has them on the menu. Same thing with liver; total grossness when Mom tried to shove it down your throat, yet, here some of you are, paying top dollar for fois gras or pate.

Back to that in a bit, but let's run through the Uncle Julio's experience first.

Frankly, it's exactly what you would expect a "trying to be nice" mall-based Mexican spot to be. Lots of words like "fajita" "taco" "street" and "margarita" adorn the menu, and it's exactly what you get at many other south of the border styled chains.

The queso blanco and chips was delicious, because all melted cheese is delicious. Kinda hard to screw that up. I will say that the chips are light in a good way, although for some reason the bottom row came in a lump.

Boogs had the beef and cheese soft-shelled beef taco. She raved about the Spanish rice ("but Dad, why isn't it Mexican rice?") and as usual ate all her sides and about 1/3 of her taco. I tried a bite and it was...super salty. Salty is good, super salty is too much of a good thing. Warning to those on a low-sodium diet: this ain't your dish.

My entree was the Jalisco fajitas; basically skirt steak with shrimp and Mexican butter with sides of the aforementioned rice and pinto beans. It was fine. Not great, not bad; exactly what you'd expect from a mall Mexican, or Tex-Mex, or whatever they call it. Maybe it is Tex-Mex because they had queso?

Ok, so now that that's out of the way, let me unmask myself emotionally for a second and explain why it's ok to give into your kids more pedestrian tastes.

So much of the dining experience is just that...the experience. Delicious food can become bad food in the wrong environment, with the wrong people, in the wrong mood.

I am a single father with 50/50 custody of Boogs. I am luckier than most in that both the former Mrs. Bites and I put our child first for everything. Our divorce is very amicable, as neither of see the need to pass our issues down to our child. These meals with Boogs are the highlight of any day. Even better than that are the times I am blessed enough to travel with her and looking forward to many more places to come. So, if she wants to eat at a mall chain restaurant? Great. If she wants Taco Bell on her way home from golf lessons, great. Other than Chik-Fil-A (for personal reasons) and The Cheesecake Factory (because I'm not a monster), as long as she understands the experience of food is just that, an experience, then I am succeeding in sharing my love of eating with her.

Simply, dining with Boogs brings me joy, and rule #1 is "Food Should Only Bring Joy"

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