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Pete Wells Takes Down Javelina With a Barrage of Backhanded Compliments

Texans may be out for blood after this review.

Nick Solares

Deep down, Pete Wells, like many New Yorkers, is afraid of Texans. "I have no desire to mess with them. I can read the bumper stickers," he says in his review of perennially packed but critically panned Tex-Mex hot spot Javelina. So clever Pete disguises his blows behind a string of backhanded compliments. It's like the fake-nice version of his evisceration of Guy's American Kitchen and Bar back in 2012.

Nearly everything, from food to service to drinks misses the mark: "Fresh or frozen, the margaritas have a slight chemical taste that I was thankful for because it tended to keep my own alcohol intake to near-Mormon levels." And then there's the fact that on one night, Wells $13 Paloma is in a much larger glass than his female dining companion's $13 Paloma – "Everybody knows women drink less than men, so we appreciated the thoughtfulness."

Meanwhile, the signature Tex-Mex dish, queso, arrives lukewarm. Thank goodness, says Wells: "The cooler temperature offers the added benefit of allowing a latex-like film to congeal on top, which provides an interesting contrast in texture with the liquefied cheese below."

The small saving graces at Javelina?

Puffy tacos, a San Antonio specialty, come out well, with bits of pork shoulder...The steak enchiladas are good, too, with a mouthwatering sour-cream sauce all around them. The cilantro-cream gravy around mahi-mahi is comfortingly thick and rich, and the fajitas are just what you'd expect them to be, with one difference: The flour tortillas are outstanding.

And so Javelina gets a zero-star, "fair" rating, to go with its goose egg from Adam Platt and similarly disappointing review from Tejal Rao.

Javelina Tex-Mex

119 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003