Jobs Homes Autos For Sale










Javier's solid fare won't burn your budget - or your taste buds
By Jennifer Olvera | Daily Herald Staff

Javier Villarreal owns Javier's Sabor Mexicano, where chicken fajitas, choriqueso and guacamole with pico de gallo are on the bill of fare.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Chicken fajitas at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

The choriqueso appetizer at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Pico de gallo at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

One of the dining rooms at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

One of the dining rooms at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

Counterclockwise from bottom, Chicken fajitas, choriqueso and guacamole with pico de gallo at Javier's Sabor Mexicano in Arlington Heights.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 1 of 7 
 
print story
email story
Published: 3/3/2009 12:07 AM

Send To:

E-mail:
To:

From:

Name:
E-mail:

Comments:

Mexican food is one of those things virtually everyone loves.

Once considered almost exotic, now it's familiar, everyday fare. In becoming commonplace, however, it has a tendency to get watered down. When we dined at Javier's in Arlington Heights, it was easy to see why: requests for unseasoned meat ran rampant and inquiries about spice level were the norm.

So, while nothing we encountered had the tongue-of-fire feeling we prefer, we understood the reason for the approach. With that in mind, we began by ordering some potent, pucker-inducing margaritas while soaking in the inviting, earth-toned setting. The fact that the space houses several rooms keeps the volume in check, while colorful Mexican artwork lends a festive edge. The crowd is more boisterous in the bar to the left, while families tend to settle into the rooms off toward the right.

Starters are what one would expect. But, truth be told, it's hard to go wrong with a batch of onion-and-tomato-studded guacamole. A few dashes of salt and a squeeze of lime, and we were perfectly content. As a counterpart, we tried the choriqueso, a queso fundido-type dish of chorizo, tomato and poblano-accented Chihuahua cheese, which we wrapped in warm flour tortillas.

Cheese dip is an offering we found more ballpark-ready, but maybe that's just us. Instead, we mulled over choices such as shrimp cocktail with onions, avocado and cilantro; sopes with beans and cheese; empanadas; and tostaditas with shredded chicken, roasted onions, tomatoes and chipotle.

Comforting soups, including a Mexican take on chicken noodle, are first course-appropriate as well. Of course, enthusiasts can consider ordering a bowl of menudo, a traditional tripe and hominy stew.

It's easy to eat here for relatively little dough if you go the sandwich or taco route. Tortas, sandwiches slathered with beans and guac and filled with lettuce, tomatoes and a choice of rib eye, chicken or breaded steak, cost just $8.95. And a dizzying array of tacos - from al pastor with cilantro and onions to skirt steak - come three for less than $10.

Beyond that, enchiladas, tostadas, chimichangas and burritos (in lots of varieties) also allow for solid, affordable meals.

We opted to try the sizzling chicken, tomato and onion fajitas, which come with fresh-tasting pico de gallo and a bowl of soupy, smoky beans that happened to be our favorite part of the meal by far. Steak and shrimp versions are available, too.

Combination platters are varied and therefore a good way to sample what the menu has to offer. With that in mind, we tried the ground beef taco, chicken enchilada and shredded beef burrito. Served with a side of refried beans and Spanish rice, it's a hefty, straightforward way to go. Nothing leapt out at us, flavor-wise, but nothing offended us either.

Classic dinners range from steak a la Mexicana in ranchero sauce to guisado de puerco, pork in mild, red-chili-bolstered sauce. A handful of moles (including takes on poblano, negro and rojo) flavor chicken, while seafood dishes range from shrimp in salsa verde to Veracruz-style shrimp in tangy green sauce buoyed with green olives.

Desserts aren't going to knock your socks off, but who doesn't love an order of strawberry-sauce-drizzled fried ice cream? Fried plantains with ice cream are a safe bet, too.

There's an extensive tequila menu that's geared toward those who want to savor, but you'll also have to contend with a handful of tropical drinks. Margaritas are available in several sizes, as well as by the pitcher.

Dining here, all in all, is a pleasant experience. Our server was friendly and helpful but unobtrusive. We never felt rushed, nor we were left wanting for anything. Just be ready for the funny looks if and when you ask for something hotter than the salsa on the table.

• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.

Javier's Sabor Mexicano

Facts: 8 W. Miner St., Arlington Heights; (847) 255-7075

Cuisine: Mexican

Setting: Earth-toned, casual hacienda

Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday

Price range: Appetizers $5.75 to $11.75; soups $6.95 to $11.95; sandwiches $5.50 to $8.95; entrees and combination platters $6.95 to $31.95; desserts $2.75 to $5.75

Accepts: Major credit cards