There are certain spots in Dallas that belong in a category that is beyond critique. These institutions are engrained in every lifelong Dallasite and should be revered much like that wise, elderly uncle who spins wise about his first love. Every city has such restaurants, and we have ours in North Texas that are enveloped in a flag of taste memories.
The first bite into a postage stamp-sized slice of Campisi’s pizza can fulfill such a memory for many. Forget the fact the mushrooms are not from Tom Spicer and the sausage wasn’t made at Jimmy’s Food Store. You won’t find lithe slivers of handmade charcuterie on the pizza, and that is okay. This is the classic stuff made famous by the likes of Jack Ruby. Who are we to argue?
Perhaps you have such a restaurant that elicits fond memories of great flavor and conversation. This doesn’t mean the restaurant is of poor quality, but it typically means it is an easy target for the uninitiated.
There is a reason why restaurants like Campisi, Old Warsaw and Javier’s do so well. The tastes are classic and familiar. They not only comfort, but they feed the soul. Without these restaurants we are orphaned and homogenized.
Recently I checked out Javier’s to ensure that my old familiar was still intact and found that it is as vibrant as ever. I didn’t mind waiting in the cigar room for a table. The musky scent of tobacco made me smile as I was transported back to one of my first dates in this city, and I smiled.
I was home again.
The menu hasn’t changed much from those early years and this was good. The Corazon de Filete was still nestled between charbroiled quail and red snapper. The crepe found on the Corazon makes the dish so much more continental, and separates the restaurant from its Tex Mex brethren.
You will not find oily enchiladas bathed in yellow cheese. This is the home of Chihuahua and compound butters. Javier’s is born from a time when Dallas was relegated to dry Spanish rice and weepy refried beans. Javier’s was, and still is separate and unequaled.