Queso and Tex-Mex might be exploding in New York City right now, but lets be real, this still ain’t Tejas. However, my friends over at Javelina sure know how to make it taste like you are in the Lone Star State. The Gramercy restaurant is tucked away off Park Avenue, and when you descend down the stairs you see our famous Bob Armstrong queso (which is queso with ground beef, pico de gallo and sour cream added) on most tables and in huge metal heaters at the front of the kitchen where chefs are constantly ladling into bowls and cups. I will say I think this is the first time I’ve really seen flights of queso? Next time I definitely want to try the white queso and add the brisket option. You can order a sampler of three different kinds between meats, white or yellow cheese. I actually liked the White Bob Armstrong combination the best and the waitress was sweet enough to point us in this direction. It pairs perfectly with their frozen Strawberry Margarita or Texas Mule which by the way come in “life size” water glasses. At least I felt like I was getting two drinks for the price of one!
Tex-Mex isn’t usually the type of cuisine where you share all the plates unless you are ordering fajitas. However, we changed this quickly by ordering basically everything we have never been able to order in the city because we just needed a taste of home. The Chicken Quesadillas are cute into 4 pieces, so again, perfect for cheesy, tortilla sharing. The outside is crunchy, although probably could have used more cheese, and the chicken proportion is right on par. Get this for your own entree as well, but please do not miss the Chicken Enchiladas. While they only offer ones with green tomatillo sauce (at home I prefer the tomato based sauce), it’s pretty damn delicious. Way more sauce and cheese covering the plate which is what was missing at El Original. Look at the photo up there. The plate is a goddess, and it truly couldn’t have been any better. Plenty of tender chicken inside the firm yet soft tortillas and the flavorful onions add such a spark. Believe it or not you’ll start reaching for some chips to wipe up that extra cheese and sauce. The fajitas come out smoking hot with steam traveling throughout the restaurant so you can smell like butter and grill the rest of your evening. The steak fajitas steal the show. They are buttery and pretty standard served with peppers and onions to roll up in your tortilla with rice and beans.
The design is more modern than authentic and feels like Austin. I think this was a smart design move for the neighborhood and New York clientele because you sure can get by in your Lululemon spandex or in some cute wooden wedges. Also, take note of the distinction between the Men’s and Women’s Restroom. Beyonce’s face vs. Matthew McConaughey. True people that represent our state and both probably eat lots of queso? Questionable… I don’t know why someone hasn’t recreated a Tex-Mex restaurant in NYC until now, and why they are all coming at once, but one thing I do know is that Javelina is an amazing representation. All I could think about after tasting each dish was when I was coming back next. The only problem here is that it’s so loud you have to truly yell at your friends the whole time. Therefore, do not come here on a first day, but do come here to get roudy, eat some grub and have a memorable time.
P.S. breakfast taco lovers: Javelina’s got you on the weekend!