Javelina Cantina

When we first moved to Sedona, we were obsessed with seeing the elusive javelina, a wild peccary that resembles a boar. Instead, we had to content ourselves with frequent visits to Javelina Cantina in Hillside Sedona where images of the beast are everywhere. There are javelina photos, javelina cartoons, javelina paintings and javelina sculptures. We’ve since seen scores of peccaries in our backyard and on the trails in Red Rock Country. But we return to the Mexican restaurant because the food tastes so good. The red rock views from the Arizona room and the small outdoor terrace are a big hit with out-of-town guests, too.

The menu at Javelina Cantina is the same for lunch and dinner. As soon as you sit down, warm tortilla chips and fresh, flavorful salsa are delivered to your table. We never bother with appetizers because we can easily polish off a basket of chips before our meals arrive. Speaking of those meals, we have a few favorites. The Chile Relleno Platter includes two (usually mild) poblano chilies stuffed with jack cheese and covered with green-chili sauce. The platter is served with refried beans and rice, and two people could easily share it. We have a friend who drives up from Phoenix just for the Catfish Relleno, a filet of fish stuffed with jack cheese, battered and quick fried. When we are feeling nostalgic for San Diego, Javelina Cantina serves up the best Rocky Point fish tacos in town. The tilapia can be fried or grilled, and it’s served with a Southwest tartar sauce. If you want something lighter, check out the Del Mar Salad with blackened scallops or shrimp, greens, caramelized onions, papaya, pecans and blue cheese. The salad is topped with a cilantro-lime vinaigrette.

To end your meal with something sweet, try the sopaipillas: triangles of warm fried dough drizzled with honey and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Nesting in the middle of all that goodness, you’ll find a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream. And how’s this for a coincidence: During our most recent visit to Javelina Cantina, we spotted a wild peccary sniffing around under the deck. Obviously, we’ve come full circle. – Erika Ayn Finch

Javelina Cantina, 671 SR 179 at Hillside Sedona. Open daily, 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., for lunch and dinner. MC, Visa, AmEx, Disc, DC (928-282-1313) (MODERATE)

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