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Tia's Tex-Mex out of business

At least in the Tampa Bay area, according to a manager I talked to at the closed Dale Mabry restaurant (I went over there to get some empanadas, saw him walking out and putting a closed sign on the door).

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  1. It's always sad to see a business go, but honestly, I was never a fan of Tias. Tampa Bay is in serious need of good Tex Mex. I even met a guy in the Austin airport a couple months back who's planning to relocate back to Texas from St Pete for lack of good Tex Mex! While I'm not ready to go quite that far, I have been trying to figure out how to get my favorite fajitas fed-exed overnight. . . . Last time I was at my favorite Tex Mex joint in Dallas I almost wrestled the manager to the floor in a full nelson to make her promise to open a couple stores in the Tampa area. The chain, Uncle Julio's, is actually considering expanding into either Florida or the Denver area. I'm hoping they come our way. . . .

    6 Replies
    1. re: laurie

      All I can say is, Thank God. Tia's is a joke. Laurie, its funny you mention Uncle Julios. I'm a native Dallasite and a buddy of mine is the General Manager of one of the locations there. I love that place. Next time you're in Dallas, try a place called Posados. Great Tex-Mex.

      Although there is a serious lack of decent Tex-Mex in this state, it isn't enough to make me pack up and move back to Texas.

      1. re: TexSkills

        TexSkills, I agree that I'm willing to live without my fajita nachos and frozen swirls to stay in sunny Florida. But here's some potentially good news: when my husband was in Dallas last week and (of course) dining at the Uncle J's in North Dallas on the tollway, the manager told him that the chain was considering expanding into Florida. They do have stores in Atlanta and D.C., albeit under a different name (which escapes me at the moment). Anyway, every time I'm in Dallas, which is about once a month, I heavily lobby Uncle J's management to come to Tampa. They were actually taking a survey one time I was there a couple months ago about whether to expand into Denver or Florida. Maybe 2007 will be the year we former Dallasites can have our fajitas AND eat them, too!

        1. re: laurie

          I used to live right near that North Dallas location. Keller Springs and the Tollway. My buddy manages the Lemmon Avenue location!

          Pappasitos is supposed to be making a push into the Florida market. Their only current location outside of Texas, in Atlanta, does very well and Tampa is supposedly on their expansion list.

          Uncle Julios goes by the "Rio Grande Cafe" name in DC and "Casa Grande" in Atlanta.

          I'm going back to Dallas on Thursday actually. My first visit home in almost 2 years. Mexican food joints are high on my list of places to go, with Mi Cocina and Uncle Julios at the top.

          1. re: TexSkills

            The Lemmon Ave. location is where I typically hang out with my buddies when I'm in Dallas. I've been frequenting that location since the late 80s. I'm glad to hear that Papasito's is considering an expansion into Florida. Their fajitas and shrimp dishes are almost identical to Uncle J's; in fact, a waiter at the Richardson location once told me that the original Papsitos manager "stole" the recipes and concepts to start Uncle J's! Truth, or urban legend?

            Mi Cocina is also a top choice when I'm in Dallas (especially for their tacos habana), as are Mia's and Manny's, all owned by members of the same family.

            Have fun in Dallas!

            1. re: TexSkills


              1. re: jujyfruit0

                I think we transplanted Texans need to band together and maybe stage a 1300-mile trek from Tampa to Dallas to bring important media attention to the deprivation we suffer for the sorry lack of great Tex-Mex in the area. Maybe then a Papacitos or Uncle Julios would wake up to the fact that the Land of the Grouper Sandwich provides limitless opportunities for a good Tex Mex restaurant.

                My husband and I were at E&E Stakeout in Bellair Bluffs the other night and he ordered the fajitas. While he said the meat was tasty enough they melted CHEDDAR CHEESE on TOP of the meat! Whoever heard of such a thing?! It ain't no nacho! And the guacamole wasn't event the real thing--it was pre-made, packaged guaca! This, in a high-end restaurant! And when he asked for jalapenos, they served him something akin to chopped sweet pickles! Agghhhh!

      2. Being an ex-Californian I too pine for more good Mexican restaurants, occasional trips to El Taconazo notwithstanding.

        1. Just for the record Uncle Julio's was running Tia's Tex Mex when they closed their doors.It was Uncle Julio's owners who came up with the idea to take away the tortilla girl who made the fresh tortilla in front of the guests.Instead they made Tia's operators buy frozen tortilla's and place them in a tortilla warmer and microwave them.Uncle Julio's made Tia's operators do many changes that brought the name Tia's Tex Mex to a low.Cheap products and higher prices.If you would have known Tia's Tex Mex before Uncle Julio's bought them you would not be missing Texas.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Superdad

            I actually did hear recently that Uncle Julio's owned Tia's. Perhaps they've realized that Floridians can't be snookered by an imposter, and plan to bring the real thing to this area. Here's to hoping their new business model is to no longer dilute its brand with low-quality food, and instead bring quality Tex Mex to Tampa. If they do, I'll be their most loyal customer.

            1. re: Superdad

              you are absolutly right about Uncle Julios. I am a former manager for Tias and it was WAAAAAY better BEFORE UJ's took it over. I am a big fan of UJ's, the food is always amazing, but once they started making 'streamlined' changes to our food we went down....its sad.

              1. re: misskitty

                Well, that's very sad to hear. I wonder why? It doesn't make any sense to me, as the food at Uncle J's is such high quality. I was just at an Uncle J's in Dallas last night (I always go when I'm in Dallas for business, usually once a month). Do they maybe plan to rebrand the Tias locations and upgrade the food, do you think?

            2. The one in Tallahassee closed a year ago and location is now a Daves Famous BBQ. No great loss or gain either way as far as I am concerned.

              1. I too am from Dallas and miss the Tex-Mex but we have found these: Ole Ole on Broward Blvd In Ft. Lauderdale, Mi Casa Su Casa on Griffin near Dania Beach, Cafe Del Rio at 1821 SE 30th Ave off of 17th(go east off of Hwy 1/Federal Hwy)in Ft. Lauderdale, all sumptiously satisfying Tex-Mex, but sorry to say, no pecan pralines, have to go to the Dallas El Fenix across from Methodist(East)Hospital on Colorado Blvd for those (not the chewy ones though, the others)or I believe you can order them on-line. I have asked if they have pralines in a couple of the cafes here and they do not know what I am talking about, wish one of them would carry them.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pralinepatty

                  Thanks for the recs, Patty. I think you can order N.O. pralines on-line; not sure about the sugary, oversized Tex-Mex pralines that used to give me that afternoon sugar rush after a dietetic lunch of chile con carne and chicken suizas enchiladas at Mias on Lemmon in Dallas. . . .

                  If there are any restauranteurs out there reading these posts and looking for ideas for Florida restaurants, BRING A GOOD TEX MEX CHAIN TO FLA, especially the Tampa area. We're hungry! Uncle Julios or Papacitos would fit the bill nicely!

                2. They did go out of business....the Comapny, Julio and Sons or something delcared bankrupt for all Tia's Tex Mex's, not just Florida. Good News however, the manager at the store on Fowler Avenue has bought out the name and re-opened the Fowler location. Grand Opening is Thursday April 26, 2007. She renovated the bar area and added 7 flat screen TV's. If you are looking for good tex mex food and a good time come Tia's is the place!!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: metsfan31

                    Well, this is certainly interesting news! The question then becomes--is the "new" Tia's actually going to serve GOOD Tex Mex, or stick to the recipes that led to its demise in the first place? Do you have any insight into that?

                    Maybe we'll give it a couple weeks then check it out with a couple fellow Texas transplants who, like me, have been in terrible Tex-Mex withdrawal. We'll be sure to report on whether this reincarnated Tias delivers true Tex Mex. Look forward to hear others' reviews of the new joint, as well.

                    1. re: laurie

                      So the Tia's on Fowler (near USF) is really open again? My wife and I love the chips & salsa, encaladas, and fajiatas and have been dying for some again!! Is it still called Tias? I tried the old phone for the original Tias, but it was out of service.

                  2. I went to the grand opening. They definitely changed the recipes, not for the better in my opinion. I thought the food was atrocious.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: aynrandgirl

                      Well, that's disappointing. Guess I still need to fly to Dallas or Austin for my fajita and margarita fix.

                      1. re: laurie

                        I don't know what that guy above is talking about but I just went to tias today and it tastes the same if not better. Recipes are a tad different but not enough to say it tastes different. Food was excellent

                        1. re: armydx316

                          If the food is the same, that's not saying much at all. If it's better, then it's probably the equivalent of Taco Bell.

                    2. I think it's a tad bit weird to expect great Tex Mex in Florida, and compare restaurants here to those in Texas. I mean, do they have great Cuban food in Dallas?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Miss E

                        Actually, you can get decent Cuban food in Dallas at a couple different places. Also, there are some excellent Tex Mex chains that have made it out of Texas as far as DC and Atlanta, but not to this region yet, for some reason. I hope one of them recognizes the great opportunity awaiting them. There's a huge market here for good quality Tex Mex if a restaurant would just take the initiative. The ones I've been to (such as Tias and Poblanos) do not fit the bill at all.

                        1. re: Miss E

                          You can find good Cuban food in Dallas at a few different restaurants. Its not the same as what you can get in SoFla but its still pretty damn good.

                        2. I'm glad to hear Tia's is opening back up. I worked in their Tallahassee store in college. As for you people who like Uncle Julio's.....they bought out Tia's. They are the reason Tia's closed. I was part of the management staff in Tallahassee and Julio's was bouncing pay roll checks. So go to Julio's. It looks like they need all the help they can get. I wish Julio's had never even stepped in to Tia's. We lost employees because of them, they didn't pay any of the restaurant bills on time, and to put it blunty they are a pretty crappy company. In fact I can tell you that Julio's even planned on remodeling and changing the name of Tia's to Eddie P's. So if that change comes about don't be shocked. I still hate Julio's though.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: jlight99

                            Well, this isn't the first trash talk of Uncle Julio's handling of Tia's that I've seen on this board, and certainly if my employer bounced my checks I wouldn't like it, either. Management or mismanagement of Tia's aside, I'm still a fan of the FOOD at Uncle Julio's (and have been since it opened its first store in Dallas in the 80s). In fact, I was just at the Uncle Julio's Casa Grande in Atlanta/Buckhead a couple days ago and learned that Uncle J's will be opening a store in Miami, perhaps by the end of the year. Soon I'll have only a four-hour drive to get my Tex-Mex fix. . . .