I generally don’t think a lot about tortillas — who does? They’re just a vehicle to get meat, cheese, beans, etc. to my mouth. But the tortillas at Tio Javi’s have opened my eyes. They’re handmade on site and are perfectly soft and chewy. And if you think about it, tortillas really should be great. They’re the backbone of a Mexican restaurant, appearing on such a large portion of dishes.
So how did Tio Javi’s perform?
Luckily, not much has changed from the days when Tio Javi’s was Ninfa’s. The food is good. The atmosphere is casual. The menu, as in most Mexican restaurants, is extensive, with all the favorites you’d expect.
Chips were served very quickly after we arrived, with red and green salsas. The red salsa had a pleasant smokiness, and the green salsa is basically guacamole thinned out with tomatillos — very enjoyable.
We tried the chicken and beef fajitas ($16.99), which were served with the usual accompaniments of rice and beans. The chicken was a little bland and the smoky taste was lost when eaten with all the toppings, but the beef was delicious and cooked to perfection. However, they did seem a little overpriced for the amount of food you get.
We also tried the Cochinita pibil tacos ($13.99), which come three to an order. The citrus and spice roasted pork was juicy and full of flavor, but I was a little overwhelmed by the spice from the pile of jalapenos on top.
The Barrio burrito ($10.99) is filled with refried beans and topped with chili con carne and queso. It was what you expect from a burrito — a warm pile of tasty comfort.
The brisket tamales ($10.99) were wrapped traditionally in banana leaves, keeping the interior tender and flavorful. The brisket had a hint of vinegar that complimented the mildness of the surrounding masa. It was especially enjoyable when eaten with the crunchy cabbage slaw served alongside.
We also ordered a combination plate, the Rancho ($16.99). It came with a taco, a flauta and chile relleño. The chicken flauta was fine but a little forgettable, and the chile relleño was cheesy with a good amount of pepper flavor. But my favorite thing during the meal was the beef taco al carbon.
I’ve already spoken about my love of the humble tortilla. When combined with the delectable steak, it formed the perfect simple taco. I could have eaten an entire plate of them.
We ended the night on a high note with a sopapilla for dessert ($1.95 for 1). What’s not to love about fried dough? The pillowy interior is complemented by the crisp flakiness of the outside. The powdered sugar and cinnamon added a wonderful sweetness. I’d also recommend a drizzle of honey to complete the sticky, satisfying treat.
The server was attentive and kind, and our food came out hot, if a little slowly. However, that did not detract from a very pleasant evening.