by Terrance Mc Arthur
Our roving food critic Terrance Mc Arthur continues his search for great food in Sanger and the surrounding communities. Check out more Great Food Search here!
I’ve been going to Javier’s Mexican Restaurant (5680 E. Kings Canyon) in the Sunnyside area for years, probably decades, in its converted bank building east of Clovis Avenue. Imagine the surprise of parking by the east-side entrance and finding it sealed off! Javier’s is not gone; the front door has moved to the north side. There is now patio seating and an ADA-compliant ramp! On top of that, it’s now Javier’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina! The beer and wine they served has been joined by tequila and a full bar for happy margarita times, if you are so inclined. Me? I stick with water, to taste the true flavors of the food, although the virgin margarita (non-alcoholic) is like lemonade with a kick.
The old, double-layer entrance was sometimes confusing and difficult to maneuver through, but the new set-up is welcoming, even if it’s still a work in progress. The Cantina section, which used to be a banquet/meeting area, has a deep brown glow to it. The family atmosphere of the restaurant still prevails, and children are permitted in the seating area, but are not allowed to consume alcohol.
My taste in Mexican food leans toward the Americanized, but Javier’s still has some lively offerings on its menu. The salsa may be gentle, but there’s a cheerful slap of cilantro and slices of green onion, and it’s presented with a healthy mound of warm chips. My old standby for dinner for many years has been #11 in the small combos, a chile relleno and an enchilada with rice and beans ($8.75 for lunch, $9.80 at dinner). The chile is encased in a puffy cloud of egg, with a generous coating of sauce. The enchilada is hefty, packed with the meat of your choice. The beans sport a spiderweb of melted cheese shreds of differing hues and flavors. The rice has a golden-brown tone, tender and fluffy.
My wife went with #3, a large combo of two enchiladas and a taco ($8.95 lunch, $9.95 dinner). The inch-thick taco was fried but tender, soft but sturdy, able to hold all the shredded beef and cheese inside. You can even customize it with chicken, ground beef, or other meats.
I wanted to try something different than my usual #11, so I opted for Steak a la Chicana ($10.25 lunch, $11.75 dinner) includes strips of steak with onions, tomato, green peppers, and because I’d read of someone adding it to the dish, Nopales ($4.25)—strips of sautéed cactus. Hearty, robust, and tasty, it woke up my mouth and gave it something to talk about.
This family-run establishment has been making customers happy for more than 40 years. The “Javier” in the name was a son of the late original owner; Javier is now a partner, running the place with his brother. It’s open 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and breakfasts are served all day. There’s take-out, so call (559) 252-4511.
Javier’s Mexican Restaurant and Cantina
5680 E. Kings Canyon
Fresno, CA 93727