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VegasEats: Javier's at ARIA

By Blackjacker1979 on Monday, 3rd December 2012 10:29pm
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 12


While preparing for the madness that was to be this year's VIMFP festivities (Gin is a cruel mistress. And so are you, Vodka.) the one and only Misnomer and myself decided that we had a craving for the goodness that is China Poblano. However, knowing that Javier's had just opened at Aria, I was able to ply him to try it with me instead, so that we could share the experience with those who might think about going there in the future.

While the results were positive for the most part, there were still some shortcomings to our meal. From this point on, I'll let the 'Nope's words take over, with my own commentary in italics peppered throughout. Much like our meal that night, this post is an experiment in writing in two parts. I hope it's a bit better than the guacamole we ordered as an appetizer.

Aria Javiers Ropes

The first thing you notice about Javier's is that it is very ropey. There are braided ropes hanging all over the place. Lots and lots of ropes. I didn't count them, but I'd say Javier's is at least an eight roper. Maybe more.

The space, while thoughtfully laid out, doesn't fit into Aria at all, unlike Union before it. Once inside however, the space is transformational, with ropes around the bar like those you see at Lemongrass, as well as a barrel vaulted dining room that feels something like a cellar in Spain. There's also some amazing carved art on the walls you should check out, all of which caught our eyes while we ordered made on the spot guacamole and the gratis chips and salsa showed up.

Aria Javiers Chipsnsalsa

Aria Javiers Guac

The guacamole was completely forgettable. Not bad, but unremarkable in every way. I'm a huge fan of China Poblano's guacamole, and Javier's pales by comparison. Shame, because this was an upsell at the suggestion of the waiter. The chips and salsa, on the other hand were tasty and fresh. The salsa in particular was bright and flavorful, with lots of cilantro. That didn't bother me, because I like cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, you'll probably not like Javier's salsa. I just dropped some deductive reasoning on you. If you don't like cilantro and deductive reasoning, I don't know what to tell you. Pack your lunch, I guess.

Nothing to add here save for the fact that I think it was some of the most bland guacamole I've ever had. Tostitos makes better guacamole seriously. The salsa on the other hand is fantastic, and the chips were crisp and not greasy at all. Avoid the green goop.

Aria Javiers Pom

I started with a pomegranate margarita. It was wonderful. My gripe is that it came in a rocks glass that was 9/10ths full of crushed ice. Two or three strong pulls on my straw, and it was gone. Naturally, our waiter returned right away and offered to bring another. At $14.00 per, I declined. Instead, I ordered a Coke, which arrived at the table in an aluminum bottle. I queried whether it was a Mexican Coke, which is a delicious Coca Cola variant made with pure cane sugar. "Oh yes, Señor," our waiter assured. I picked up the bottle. High fructose corn syrup. Mexican Coke fail. Waiter knowledge fail.

Aria Javiers Margarita

I stuck with water and decided to be Plain Jane with a Patrón Silver classic margarita on the rocks. Mine wasn't crushed ice, but was lacking in size for the price. That said, it was tasty and went down very smooth, much better than the swill I've gotten as a margarita at Flay's MESA in the past.

Aria Javiers Ench

I ordered the "Cabo Azalea" combination platter. Cabo Azul means "Blue Sammy Hagar" in Spanish. My sister blew Sammy Hagar during the For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge tour, but that's a story for another day. The Cabo Azul features a lobster enchilada, a grilled chile relleno stuffed with Monterey Jack cheese, shrimp, and crab, and a shrimp taco. It comes with a side of rice and beans.

I didn't mind that the chile relleno was grilled rather than fried as much as I thought I might. Nearly every fried chile relleno I've ever ordered has come out with the breading soaked with oil and falling off of the chile, so I almost admire Javier's for dispensing with the breading altogether. The grilled chile was tasty, filled with mucho queso, and tasty sea bits. Ditto the taco. If I wanted to be particular, I could say that the shrimp in both the taco and the chile relleno were teeth-squeakingly overcooked, but seasoned well and tasty. The standout on my combo plate was the lobster enchilada.

Aria Javiers Steak

As for myself, I went with the tried and true Carné Asada, as I figured sticking with the traditional entrees was the best way to evaluate the meal. What came was more akin to something I would order at a steakhouse, with a large steak with some Mexican style accompaniments on the side. The steak was cooked well, but lacked a bit in flavor, something it made up for in extreme juiciness. The side order of beans were good, but I avoided the same flavorless guac and inedible roasted chiles as to avoid a double dose of Zantac later. This proved to be the right choice as the meal was about to get a bit more interesting.

At some point after he lied to me about the Coke, our bilingual waiter approached us with an offer from the singularly lingual, multi-generational, Spanish speaking table seated next to us. "Would you like to try something organic," he asked, motioning toward a Mexican gentleman, who was now gesturing at us with an open plastic baggie. Typically, my answer to this question in an unhesitating yes - particularly if I'm at any sort of "Lazerium" - but the waiter followed up with, "They are not too hot."

Blackjacker and I peered into the bag at what were very likely off-the-Scoville-unit-chart hot little peppers. Seems this was, "un chiste para los gringos" (as translated by Google when I typed in, "white guy cry fire tears").

Was Javier's good? Well, the dinner company certainly was. The margarita was darned tasty. The food was filling, and welcome after my long day of travel. Bottom line, I could see myself eating there again as an impulse; the type of meal you eat when you suddenly realize that you've been sitting at the tables for six hours, and you're famished and want something in close proximity to where you are. Trouble with that notion is that I very rarely find myself in Aria. At the risk of damning it with faint praise, I'd say Javier's is likable enough, and not unpleasant.

And I'd have to say the same thing. It's a nice enough space, and a good enough filler to compliment the rest of what Aria has to offer, even if the price point is a bit high. Will I be going back to Javier's again? Most likely not, but that doesn't mean that it won't do well for those who like something different than what Aria already has to offer.

Tagged: vegaseats   javiers   aria   misnomer   dining   reviews   


Comments & Discussion:

The lettuce and tomato on that guacamole sure make it look pretty.

That steak looks ECACTLY like one I had during Aria's opening weekend when that joint was called Union. Maybe they are just burning through Union's meat freezer reserves!

I've been to Javier's twice since opening. Both times I have really enjoyed my food. I got the vegetable enchiladas and the sea food enchiladas. However, as delicious as both dishes were - they were not worth the $27. Would I go back to Javier's? Yes. But only after a few wins at the blackjack table or a comp.

Seeing this just makes me want to go back to Vegas more and more. I would've gone this year but picked Oktoberfest instead. Next year...next year I'll be there.

Instead of Javiers, where would you guys go?

On the strip? Border Grill, China Poblano, Tacos El Gordo. I truly believe that even El Segundo Sol has its place if you're looking for a good happy hour or a snack, but I'd prefer to eat at the other three establishments.

@damania I ended up eating at Javier's, China Poblano and Tacos El Gordo this past trip. China Poblano is probably my favorite restaurant in Vegas at this point. I typically eat there at least once per trip. It's great, although it's absurdly overpriced. I stopped in for lunch and had 4 tacos, guacamole, and a Mexican Coke and it was $57 with tip.

But I had a very interesting conversation with guy working one of the food bars at CP. I asked him why China Poblano's guac is so much better than everyone else's when guacamole has so few ingredients. He said he gets asked that a lot, and the answer is that Jose Andres insists that they measure each of the ingredients precisely. He said some other places call for "the juice of one lime" for example, but Andres insists that they measure out a certain amount of juice, since any given lime might produce a different amount of juice. And so on with all the other ingredients. Anyway, their guac is great, and they serve it with warm tortillas. Wow.

Tacos El Gordo is a block or two North of Encore in a strip mall kinda thing. They have pork tacos, which I tried, beef tacos, which I didn't, and lots and lots of offal, which I'm not at all interested in. The pork tacos were very tasty and inexpensive. The whipped orange drink was a revelation. But it's more of a fast food joint / taco stand. Very different from the other restaurants mentioned here.

Tacos n Tequila is a great choice. I was underwhelmed at China Poblano, it was good but not the rave I had heard and crazy overpriced.

You guys do a much better job of ripping on Wynn-Core than writing restaurant reviews. That meals looks and sounds absurdly mediocre for the $150 (?) price point. If you had eaten that meal, for that price, at Big Steve's Tac-bro Cantina you'd still be tweeting about it.

Take that you hosers!

ate there with my family a few weeks ago, same exact thoughts on the Guac which our waiter totally forgot we had ordered and brought out after the entrees had arrived (they gave it to us for free and honestly I felt over charged). I had the Mexican Osso Buco which was good, but a very small serving for the price point. My aunt had the Sammy Haggar Platter and was very impressed with it.

This was the first place I've ever ate in that had 500 waiters and bussers running around and still had terrible service. A few kinks to add out, it's not the best food option in the city, but it's a decent offering in CityCenter

Wife and I ate here just this past Saturday (Dec 1)…she was very pleased with her enchiladas but I was not impressed with my soft taco dish…bland/un-flavorful and almost bit size…good thing I also ordered the taquitos, which were good…

Service was attentive and quick…our seat was right next to the wild wood carving (from S. America?) on the wall…pretty interesting art work to say the least…as previously mentioned, salsa has great cilantro flavor (something I want) to go along with the fresh chips …guacamole was nothing to brag about.. I thought the overall meal price was kinda high for what we got…

We have a few other Mexican places we want to try so a re-visit to Javier’s is not in the near future ….I would go back to Border Grill (at MB), which is much better for almost the same price…

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