New York is in the midst of a mini, queso-smothered, Tex-Mex heatwave right now. But Adam Platt is not having it. He hands down two big fat goose eggs to the always-packed Javelina and the slightly newer El Original. At Javelina, the much buzzed-about queso seems to be the restaurant's only redemption:
The quesos (one yellow, one white) at Javelina have their alluring qualities...but after these early fireworks the proceedings go inexorably downhill. My bowl of Texas red chili was more of a dreary armadillo gray than a fiery Texas red, and the rapidly cooling cap of cheese on its top had the consistency of vulcanized rubber.
In Hell's Kitchen at El Original, which was opened by Lisa Fain of the popular blog Homesick Texan, Platt is equally disappointed:
...With the possible exception of the wickedly greasy chicken-fried steak (which, Tex-Mex purists point out, is not really Tex-Mex), there's not much on this perfunctory, rehashed menu that would make even the most fervid Tex-Mex loon wish to return.
Like a mean girl in high school, the best compliment he can give is a backhanded one: "the steak fajitas have a nice, tender texture, provided you don't wad them with too many greasy peppers." Eater critic Robert Sietsema also gave low points to El Original, but he found more things to like at an early visit to Javelina.