Javier’s at Aria takes the neighborhood taquería and blends it with a fine-dining experience, combining classic dishes with unique interpretations of Mexican cuisine. The result is an experience that’s both familiar and new.

The lengthy menu is broken down into categories for easier reading—appetizers, house specials, from the grill, of the sea and so on. At any Mexican restaurant, it’s always a wise decision to start the table off with a batch of queso fundido. Javier’s puts a different spin on their version. Using a flour or corn tortilla dip into an ooey-gooey bowl of melted Monterey Jack cheese, the classic queso ingredient. But then enjoy an added mix of sautéed onions and pasilla chiles, all topped with ground chorizo and chipotle chile sauce—a slight heat with new tastes, a perfect precursor to the main meal.

The main meal requires the task of making decisions when confronted with a bevy of options that all sound delicious. We suggest the chile negro, a Javier’s favorite (and rightly so). Tender, fall-off-the-bone Angus short ribs are braised in a chile negro sauce—a mixture of tomatillos and dried black chilies. The sauce is a specialty from the Mexican state of Michoacan, used as a meat sauce for decades. This dish could receive a resounding “one of the best ever!” from your dining party. The balance of sweet with heat accompanies each forkful of the hearty meat.

Javier’s also impresses with its steak options—the cuts are from corn-fed, No. 1 Angus beef. Steak lovers should try the filete consteño, 8 ounces of prime center cut, accompanied with either Maine lobster or 100 percent leg meat crab enchilada, a nice switch from the standard beef or chicken. The tender, juicy steak receives only a light spice, allowing the natural meat flavors to shine, while the enchilada is covered with salsa verde. While not a traditional steakhouse sauce, the salsa complements the beef, pleasantly pulling together the many flavors of the dish.

If there’s room, order dessert. One in particular is a promise of one of the best found on the Strip, the fried ice cream. Don’t let the plain name fool you—this dessert is frozen heaven in an edible bowl. Served in a buñelo basket—fried dough with a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar—the hearty scoop of vanilla ice cream is rolled in corn flakes and coated with nuts and honey. A slice of the traditional pastel tres leches is another sweet option, and Javier’s version is spot on, with moist cake layers that use the required three types of milk baked in; a lightly sweetened frosting is coated with almond slivers, completed with a drizzle of cajeta, a milk caramel sauce.

Javier’s upholds tradition while impressively executing modern culinary touches—it’s a satisfying, fine-dining Mexican meal, sure to leave its mark.

Aria, 11:30 a.m.-midnight daily. 866.590.3637