One of Miss Dish's bitches recently whispered in her ear: "You've gotta check out Javier's. It's open 24 hours. And the California burrito...muy bueno." Hmmm, California burrito. She was intrigued, but what did it mean? Avocado and krab? Bean sprouts and spirulina? Still, since this town kills 24-hour places faster than J-Lo does relationships, she felt she needed to go quick.
The brightly lit shack on North Lombard Street had what looked like bullet holes in the window, and out front a coven of copmobiles, lights aflashing, surrounded a Chevy from all sides. As Miss Dish and friends approached, a man eating at a table stared at them with all the friendliness of Rasheed after a bad call. "What's with the look?" Miss Dish whispered to her cohorts. The guy got up and headed toward the kitchen. Uh-oh.
The room had all the aesthetic appeal of a car-rental waiting room, but who cares? It was the California burrito that called. The Cali burrito was described as bundling up carne asada, potatoes, cheese and salsa, all for $3. She threw down her Washingtons.
After a short wait sitting in a plastic booth beneath the gaze of fluorescent lighting that turned facial pores into manholes, her number was called. Miss D. was pleased to see that the tortilla wrapping this beast of a burrito had been properly grilled, so that the whole thing was stiff, rather than doughy. She took a bite, and a plume of cheese bubbled out. Another bite turned up a crispy bit of potato, swaggering fried onions and shaved pieces of tender steak. She reached in and pulled out a potato for closer inspection--it was one of those cheap crinkle-cut fries, but it had danced with the deep fryer long enough to become the way God intended. This isn't a California burrito--it's a Philly cheesesteak with a side of fries all rolled together. Miss Dish is officially in love.
Javier's Taco Shop #2, 121 N Lombard St., 286-3186.
For a completely different Mexican experience, Miss Dish visted the latest addition to the Olé Olé empire--a new cafe on Northeast Alberta Street. Olé Olé has two taquerias in town--one strategically placed near PSU, the other on East Burnside Street. The new Olé Olé Cafe on Alberta isn't a taqueria and instead serves more ambitious fare, such as platters of shrimp stewed in a spicy red chile sauce, slabs of halibut smothered in onions, tomatoes, green pepper and olives, and a traditional meatball soup. Miss Dish got a plate of mole chicken for $8 with tender slices of boneless white meat slathered in a husky red brew. It wasn't the mole of places such as Cafe Azul or Taqueria Nueve, where complex flavors are coaxed out of a long-cooked sauce made with a zillion ingredients, but it was still lip-smackingly tasty. A bundle of little corn tortillas came with, and the refried beans and rice on the side made a nice base. Things are still coming together (the credit-card system wasn't installed yet, and boxes of canned pop were sprawled about waiting for a cooler to come), but it's getting there.
Olé Olé Cafe, 1934 NE Alberta St., 493-4094.