121 N Lombard
I do not like to make a habit of writing a crappy review about the local hole in the wall. What's the point? The restaurant business is grueling, and regardless of what I say, if the place sucks, they'll drive themselves out of business eventually. In the case of a new restaurant, however, especially a new 24-hour Mexican restaurant in North Portland, I feel the need to comment.
I will preface with this: My friend Lance ate at Javier's once, and said, "I had a burrito and it was pretty good, but then again, I was really stoned." I believe stoned people know the difference between good and bad food, and even though Lance is a smoker, I have known him to have discerning taste buds. Thusly, my conclusion is that the burritos at Javier's are okay, but the dinners aren't.
At present, like most restaurant savvy Portlanders, I am accustomed to the carefully and lovingly prepared dishes at many of the Northside Mexican joints--La Bonita, La Parilla, Taqueria Apatzingan (15th and Killingsworth), that place on 15th and Prescott that I never know the name of, Sirenita, King Burrito--so I expected Javier's to be another to add to the list. I also prayed to the Lord that this would be a place where I could happily eat after 9 pm.
The chile relleno platter had two big greasy rellenos stuffed with a mild white cheese, which was only slightly warm and hardly melted. The pico de gallo had a ton of onions and was darkly colored, but tasted good and was obviously homemade. The guacamole, on the other hand, looked and tasted like the soupy, store-bought variety.
The beef taco/cheese enchilada platter was equally dismal. The crunchy, deep-fried taco shell was stuffed with shredded beef and well seasoned, but the enchilada was filled with what looked like finely shredded Kraft jack/cheddar mix--again, not melted. In fact, everything was covered with this strange, generic unmelted cheese, making me feel like I was eating Mexican food from TGIFriday's. The enchilada sauce seemed like it was purchased from Sysco. The standard refried beans were greyish, and the rice was decent Mexican rice. The overwhelming problem with the food was not that everything seemed like it had been popped in the microwave, but that it had only been in there for about thirty seconds.
While I'm complaining, I might as well say that the tables were not wiped, the plates were paper, the forks were plastic, there was no music on, and no one said "How are you doing?" or "See you later." All of these little things would have been overlooked if the food was even sort of good, but the impression I got from Javier's is that they don't care at all about the food, which is a baffling attitude from a new restaurant.
Maybe Javier's is working out the kinks and maybe I should give them another shot. Maybe in a couple months, when the memories of the unmelted cheese pile have faded, I will. But I can tell you one thing: when I do go back, I'll definitely be stoned.