Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Javelina

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Javelina

Article excerpt



119 E. 18th St. (212-539-0202)

Open daily for dinner. Entrees $17-$38.

Just as New Yorkers like to complain that it's impossible to get a good bagel outside the five boroughs, Texans enjoy lamenting the lack of decent Tex-Mex outside the Lone Star State. It seems especially egregious in a city so full of both places to eat and displaced Texans. So word spread quickly about Javelina, a restaurant near Union Square claiming to offer "true Tex-Mex," as advertised by a green neon sign that casts an eerie glow over a row of tall cacti just inside the door. Within days of opening, reservations were already hard to come by, with wait times creeping up to two hours.

The people wanted their enchiladas and their fajitas, but, more than anything, they wanted their queso. Queso is the generic Spanish word for "cheese," but Texan queso, also known as chile con queso, is a very specific dish, taken very seriously, and, naturally, a source of great debate, down to pronunciation: "keh-so" not "kay-so," according to Texas Monthly . Opinions and recipes vary, but it seems generally agreed upon that the cheese should be mild and melted to a Velveeta-like consistency, mixed with chiles, then scooped up with tortilla chips--preferably of the sturdy, crunchy, salt-flecked, golden variety, like the ones that come in a basket, still hot from the fryer, at Javelina. These are complimentary, along with a sweet, smoky salsa; the queso is compulsory, but must be ordered separately. …

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