Rainey Street, the hip, off-the-beaten path home of hidden bars and late-night food trucks, welcomes a new bar at the far end of the road. Javelina is so new that it still smells of the Carolina blue paint on the walls.
With its faux-country furnishings and understated ranch-inspired decor, the bar markets to the “enlightened Texan” demographic. It incorporates all that Texas-lovers embrace about their state — stuffed javelina heads, an old jukebox in the corner, cocktails with names like “The Bluebonnet” and a casual environment.
Simultaneously, Javelina manages to appeal to a less dusty, less conservative crowd of young urban professionals with its clean, relaxed atmosphere, inventive drinks and sharp, edgy bartenders.
The crowd was lively but light for a Saturday night, and the jukebox was the center of attention; music from Prince’s “Purple Rain” to old country tunes switched on and off over the sound system as patrons fed the machine with quarters. Customers sprawled out on the front patio and crowded around the bar, drinking and laughing with the bartenders and each other.
The drinks, served by cheeky and affable mixologists, were refreshing and substantial. Both drinks I tried were themed by season. Served in mason jars, they were simple, but had elements of complexity that came as a surprise considering the newness and rustic feel of the bar.
The Bluebonnet, mixed with blueberry vodka and Campari, was light and fruity, with floral notes that played to the recent emergence of the Texas state flower along stretches of Texas highway. The drink wasn’t too strong, and a squeeze of lemon juice prevented the drink from being overly sweet.
The Prairie Flower — made with gin, Thatcher’s organic apple ginger spice liqueur, lemon juice and simple syrup — was warm and homey, with a strong kick. It was a solid drink, but felt out of place on the first few nights of spring.
At $7 or $8 a cocktail, the drinks were priced reasonably, on par with or even cheaper than drinks at other bars in the heart of downtown.
Although the kitchen was closed when I went, Javelina serves burgers, salad and “Javelina eggs,” a hard-boiled egg wrapped in pork sausage and fried, before 10 p.m. They open for lunch on Sunday, so that might be a good time to check out the eats before the place and the neighborhood is “discovered.”
If you’re looking for an alternative to the raucous 6th Street, drive to the southeast edge of downtown where street parking is free (if you can find it) and the crowds are grown-up and self-aware.
Mosey on over to Javelina for a revitalizing cocktail or cold Texas beer while it’s still relatively unknown. Drink on the patio, under strings of bright light bulbs, or sit at the bar beneath beautiful vaulted ceilings for a casual and relaxing evening in a place that romanticizes the laid-back pace and down-home feel of our great state.