If the new year has you resolved to eat healthier food, we have a couple of suggestions for you in the form of new restaurants in the southwest.
The first is Javi’s Supertortas in a new location on Stein Road. Opened in 2003, the restaurant was located for years in a small spot at the corner of Ashe Road and White Lane, in the Food Maxx shopping center. We wrote about it back in 2006, impressed by owner Francisco Javier Vidrio, who has made it his mission to bring Mexico City-style “supertortas” to Bakersfield.
Vidrio spent years working for McDonald’s, even has his Hamburger University diploma on display in the dining room, and before you dismiss that, remember that the fast-food giant trains its people on the importance of cleanliness (we’ve always noticed that trait in his restaurant) and an emphasis on serving freshly made food. He also has a certificate from a course he took in Tuscany, so he’s well-rounded.
There are no fewer than 27 different tortas available, all dressed with mayo, avocado, refried beans, chipotle sauce, tomato and onions, served on the proper Mexican roll (telera) with meats and cheeses, including chorizo, head cheese and the meats he prepares for burritos, flautas, tostadas, tacos and quesadillas: asada, chicken and pastor (pork).
On our visit I was tempted by the Cubana (pork, ham, breaded steak, sausage, pineapple, chorizo, egg and cheese) but opted for the tamer Hawaiian ($7.99). My companion thought it wise to go to the Mexican side of the menu, so we selected tacos made with each of the three meats ($1.60 each).
The sandwiches are the way to go if only because they’re such a mélange of flavors and textures and they press it in a panini press after assembly giving it those grilled indentations and mashing the whole thing flat. You can get tortas anywhere nowadays, but can you get them as souped up as Javi makes his?
The ham was a thin strip in my sandwich, as it should be, with enough cheese, refried beans and avocado in particular to help it stand out. That roll was fantastic, fresh and simple as I remember from tortas of my past, and there was a packet of Valentina Mexican hot sauce on the side if you want to juice it up.
Another thing that made it stand out were fresh-fried potato chips served in the basket with it. I mean who does that at this price level? The tacos were made with moist, fresh meat, and the asada was a particularly charming choice. In fact, on my next visit, I’ll be getting either the Western torta (with asada, bacon and cheese) or the Mexicana (asada, rice, cheese).
Neighboring storefront Stay Fit Meals offers dishes that seem even healthier, with smoothies, protein shakes, burgers and bowls with healthy proteins. When we visited it was staffed by a guy who looked like he was a young Arnold Schwarzenegger who told us he was going to the gym after work. If such fit people intimidate you, this might not be your best option.
The food was similar to what Fit Pantry offers, healthy and tasty. I selected the chicken burrito ($9) made with jasmine white rice, lettuce, green salsa, chicken, reduced-fat cheese and reduced-fat sour cream. I loved all the lettuce in the middle, didn’t miss the fat from the dairy products like I thought I would. It’s pretty surprising. Bonus: I saved half for lunch the next day and it tasted just as good cold, probably because of all the lettuce inside.
My companion ordered one of the custom meal plates with a protein (seven choices, including ground turkey, ground beef, salmon tilapia and shrimp), a carb (brown rice was gone that day, but they did have diced red potatoes) and a veggie (green beans, which were firm and did not taste of butter). She chose the salmon and it did not disappoint; it was not graced by a great sauce but the fish was clean and fresh tasting, like sushi to a degree.
What I love about this place is they don’t go overboard on the health thing. For example, on a steak and egg burrito ($9), they give you whole eggs, not egg whites, and the lean beef still tastes decent, though the reduced-fat cheese again surprised me. There are burgers, too, including a black bean burger and turkey burger if you want to seem healthier.
Pete Tittl’s Dining Out column appears here on Sundays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.