Lincoln’s become an attractive market for chain restaurants, with Chevys Fresh Mex among those to open in the capital city in recent weeks.
Located next to The Parthenon in the Edgewood Shopping Center at 56th Street and Nebraska 2, the Mexican restaurant began operation in early November.
It’s based out of California, with the first store opening in Alameda in 1981. Chevys has nearly 50 locations around the country, with more than 20 of them in California.
The Lincoln restaurant is owned by Todd Porter and Bob Amor, who also own the Chevys in Sioux Falls, S.D. The general manager is Craig Schreiber, who returned to Lincoln to run the restaurant. His Lincoln resume included stints as Chi Chi’s and TGI Fridays.
Chevys, like other chain restaurants, prides itself on its consistency. Diners can expect good food, large portions, fast service and reasonable prices. They’ll also find large colorful menus and table tents promoting drinks and desserts that often mark a chain restaurant.
Chevy’s begins each meal with chips and a smoky-flavored salsa. I saw one Facebook post calling it “burnt,” but it’s more smoky, which I’m guessing may come from some kind of chipotle seasoning to it.
My wife and I each ordered an original margarita on the rocks with salt ($6.25). The bar was generous with the tequila -- and, unfortunately, the ice. For $6.25, I wanted more liquid and less rocks.
For entrees, my wife ordered a two-item combo ($11.99), choosing a chicken tamale with a tomatillo green sauce and chile relleno. I went with “Chevys Super Cinco” ($15.99) off the favorites part of the menu, which included a pork tamale, two enchiladas (beef and chicken), a beef taco (soft or crispy) and chile relleno. Both meals were served with rice and choice of beans.
We agreed the tamales, hand-rolled with a flavorful corn masa, were our favorite. She liked the tomatillo sauce on hers, while I favored the shredded seasoned pork in mine. We liked the chile relleno, but were less enthused with its breading. Chevys, by the way, doesn’t overwhelm with its sauces as some Mexican restaurants tend to do.
As for portion sizes, they are generous, so you received more than ample amount of food for the price, which ranges from $10 to $20, with most entrees costing $13 to $15. We both took food home. Grade: B.
Service is a big reason why chain restaurants often succeed. Their kitchen and floor staff are ready to go from day one, and Chevys is no different. We enjoyed exceptional service from our server, Michaela, who checked on us multiple times during our visit and politely explained what “beans a la charra” was -- refried beans with bacon -- when we asked. I’m sure we weren’t the first to ask. Food and drinks arrived promptly from the kitchen and bar, respectively. Grade: A.
The owners poured some money into the location, creating one of Lincoln’s best-looking restaurants. The interior features an L-shaped dining room and a large bar area dotted with tall tables and high-definition TVs. The dining rooms include booths with high walls to provide some privacy and to help cut down on noise. Chevys uses knotty pine; warm browns, reds and oranges; rustic hanging lights; and Mexican-themed art to decorate. The restaurant just looks great. Grade: A.
Chevys includes at least one vegetarian dish in various menu sections, including enchiladas made with artichoke hearts and mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted poblano peppers, melted jack cheese and a habanero-pesto cream sauce. The website doesn't include gluten-free information. The Lincoln location, however, has a gluten-free menu with nearly 15 entrees. It's available to see on its Facebook page. Grade: C+.