The Compleat Rainey Street: Javelina

 
 
Through the rest of July, I’ll walk through every open door on Rainey Street. See the directory here
 
Javelina
69 Rainey St. 512-382-6917, www.javelinabar.com.
Hours: 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday. Noon to 2 a.m. Sunday. The kitchen is open until 11 p.m.
 
By Mike Sutter | Fed Man Walking | 07.25.12
 
Put this bar on East Sixth and it wouldn’t miss a step, with the rough edges to drive home the wild nature of its namesake bristly beast. A long screen made from shaggy, bark-on cedar poles stands head-high and separates the Javelina from the rest of the Rainey Street sideshow. The main house is a mix of country cottage and hunter’s lodge in slate gray and burgundy, with a front porch where thick guys in tight shirts or fedoras might play banjos in the movie version.
 
They do a drink here called the Porch Swing ($7), served in a sweaty pint Mason jar. It has the hot, tannic swagger of Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka with the pucker of hibiscus and a shot of lemon juice with a little soda for lazy bubble. It tastes like a celebration of your escape into the urban wild, a drinking buddy for the sturdy little tap wall of Austin beers from Independence, Austin Beerworks, Live Oak and a few Texas-born cousins.
 
When I talked with Ernesto Torrealba at El Naranjo up the street, he mentioned Javelina as one of his Rainey Street restaurant competitors, and all I could think was that he hasn’t actually eaten at Javelina. Their bar snacks can’t touch the Mexican precision of El Naranjo, but they’re not meant to. Even so, it was hard to reconcile a few greasy pig shingles with the “Javelina Strips” ($6.50) described on the menu as “tender, marinated pork shoulder, lightly breaded and fried.” Imagine the pure-fat layers of bacon without the bacon payoff and you get the idea.
 
Even more off-putting was a Miga Burger ($7.50) slopped together with a blotchy fried egg, an ooze of melted cheese and joyless ribbons of fried tortilla. A total loss if not for a thick, buttery bun and a beef patty that showed off its brisket-and-chuck provenance with density and aggressive beef taste. Even filtered through the forgiving lenses of beer goggles, the food wasn’t a player. More like a last-call fallback . Nonetheless, Javelina is a good place to strap on those beer goggles, play some shuffleboard and listen to music that whipsaws from Johnny Cash to Prince’s “Sexy MF.”
 
(Photos by Mike Sutter © Fed Man Walking)
 
THE COMPLEAT RAINEY STREET
► Javelina