Cheers to Chava's

A Mexican standby rises from the ashes of Mike & Min's

The potential for fajita greatness suggested by the appetizers was fully realized in Chava's' fajita platter. What a pretty plate: long, glistening slices of steak mingling with fat slices of white onion and green, red and yellow bell peppers; a golf ball-size scoop of guacamole studded with red tomato; a small handful of freshly grated cheese, plus more of those refried beans garnished with little pieces of bacon. Eaten separately, by the forkful, or wrapped up in a warmed flour tortilla, each and every component was a standout.

If I were to suggest a house specialty for Chava's to boast about, it would be the tacos de Guadalajara, a pair of flash-fried flour tortillas clamped around a filling of seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, white onion and a clever blend of grated Monterey and Parmesan cheeses. When fried just right, the shells are pliant yet firm, with a hint of sweetness and the airy crispness of mille-feuille — a big step up from the shatter-prone Old El Paso corn shells most of us grew up knowing. But should the tacos come out overdone, as they did on a subsequent visit, all merit is burned right out of them.

At times my dining experiences at Chava's mirrored Drunky's dark night of the soul at Mike & Min's, which see-sawed from intoxicated hilarity to melancholy self-immolation. For every transcendent margarita there was a premixed atrocity; for every exemplary fajita, a trainwreck like the thirteen-inch burrito: glazed over with an off-putting film of melted Cheddar and Monterey Jack, with a leathery flour-based casing. Inside were refried beans and char-grilled sirloin — ostensibly the same beans and sirloin that did the fajita proud. But something happened to these pieces of steak. Something that sucked out their life and spirit, and, therefore, mine.

Delicioso: Chava's spices up Soulard.
Jennifer Silverberg
Delicioso: Chava's spices up Soulard.

Location Info



925 Geyer Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63104

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: St. Louis - Soulard


925 Geyer Avenue; 314-241-5503. Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri.- Sat., noon-8 p.m. Sun.

Fajita quesadilla $8.50
Fajita nachos $8.50
Tacos de Guadalajara $6.50
Burrito $5.95

Chava's' "big fresh" salad proved another unhappy encounter. Chopped romaine and iceberg, ever-so-slightly brown around the edges, tomatoes, onions, wilty jalapeños, shredded Cheddar and "jalapeño bacon" (which I saw no sign of), trapped beneath a heap of bland ground beef was certainly big, but not fresh. The salad's only redeeming quality was the ranch dressing served on the side. Ranch dressing? ¡Muy mexicano!

Drunky's bender at Mike & Min's ended with him tearing off down the street to upend garbage cans and flower pots. My night at Chava's ended on a decidedly more upbeat note. I had a small bill to pay and a leftover steak fajita to take home — not to mention the reassurance that a Soulard landmark had given way to a promising new enterprise. Unlike Mike & Min's, I'd readily return to Chava's.

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