500 Tacos: Javi’s Best of Tex Mex

An Austin taco a day for 2015 — and then some
Javi’s Best of Tex Mex
7709 E. Ben White Blvd., Austin (map), 512-386-8329, www.javistexmex.com
Hours: 7am-10pm Mon-Fri; 9am-10pm Sat; 9am-9pm Sun
By Mike Sutter | © Fed Man Walking | 10.11.15
On the way to the Austin airport, you can always hit the Waffle House, the same one where I watched barbecue pitmaster John Lewis train for a waffle showdown. Or you could move just 100 yards west for family-owned Tex-Mex at Javi’s, the unlikely tenant of a modern glass-front office park. The cool cavern of a dining room seats about 100, with a polished concrete floor and cool aqua and white walls with loteria prints — a family-style diner wearing a quinceañera dress two sizes too big.
The taco: Beef and chicken fajitas
If a restaurant is slow between lunch and dinner, my approach is to shy away from taco fillings that pass those sleepy hours in steampans, things like carnitas and al pastor and ground beef. Instead, I’ll order something cooked to order, something that might come out sizzling on an iron platter, something like fajitas. It’s a good call at Javi’s, with caramelized onions, tomato slices and green and yellow peppers sharing the platter with bronzed chicken and beef with a stand-up sear. There’s no grilled or marinated flavor to speak of, but it’s fresh, and a careful composition of fajita fixings with refried beans on a hot flour tortilla makes a couple of decent tacos. I skipped the rice, which tasted like it had been kissed by tomatoes gone bad. ($10.50 with rice, beans, pico, lettuce, sour cream, cheese and tortillas)
 Breakfast: Javi’s serves breakfast all day. Their “Perfect Taco” — with fresh scrambled eggs, nicely browned potatoes, lean sausage, melted cheddar and crisp rings of serrano pepper — suggests that this is a good thing. ($2.25)
 Tortillas: Resilient flour tortillas and basic white corn tortillas from a bag.
 Salsa: A jar-style tomato-onion red sauce adds some snap with green onions and cilantro.
 All in the family: As I watched three waitresses, kids and relatives caucus in one corner booth, I noticed that another waitress was handling most of the tables by herself. Another hazard of the pre-dinner dead zone, when the staff needs downtime to let their kids play screechy cellphone games and get exercise by running past my table.
The 500 Tacos Project
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)