Habanero Goa is the newest addition to the Tex Mex chain of restaurants , with branches already in Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. Situated in the calangute Baga stretch, where many a restaurant has mushroomed in the bylanes, this one is situated in a lane called milky way, find it on google maps, or call for directions.
Valet parking, something of a rarity especially in the calangute baga area, followed by a garden like setting complete with lanterns hung on trees, and posters quintessentially Goan , like the cashew fruit and the river ferries, help set the mood of the place. Colourful tropics , is the word that comes to mind with the stained glass lanterns over the tables, and the backdrop of the bar. The restaurant has a three tiered seating, it has an AC section , a rooftop seating as well as a garden seating. A stage where live events take place over weekends and a microbrewery which hopefully will open by the end of the month are added attractions.
Food: This place is famous for the Tex Mex, so while they also serve a few other continenetal, sea food grills, and pizzas , it makes sense to come try the Tex Mex cuisine. So what is Tex Mex cuisine? Well Mexico, and Texas share a long border, the one Mr Trump, hopes to create a wall over, so that America stops being influenced by Mexican culture. But that already happened a few years ago, with the Texan and Mexican cuisine taking over the taste buds of the world.
Most of the cuisine was about trying flavour combinations tpgether, like the famous Texan chicken roasts got a chipotle rub, and a fiery meaty dish was born, worthy of summer BBQs. The chipotle marinated chicken at Habanero, with a lipsmacking hot and spicy marinade is worth trying as well.
Even the story of Nachos is fascinating. Named after the Mexican man Nacho, who at closing time , found three Texan women come in to his diner , situated on the Tex Mex border, and ask for lunch. He was all out of Burritos and had only a few tortillas available. He cut these roti like corn tortillas, fried them, and topped them with everything in the fridge, like lettuce, tomatoes, olives, lemon wedges, and topped it off with cheese. It was an instant hit, and when asked the name of the dish he said “Nacho’s special” . the Macho nachos at Habanero are something of a meal in itself. The tortilla chips are really outstanding and the addition of beans is what makes them a complete meal with legumes, salad and chicken.
Try the sesame lime shrimp tostada, for beautifully cooked prawns. The fajitas which come with a sizzling plate of grilled veggies and meats, as well as cold dressing and additions, is fun to construct. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the menu, and I wouldn’t hold it against you if you did, try the samplers. A sampler plate has a burrito (without rice) , bean and rice,soft shell tacos, cream cheese, crisp tortillas, salsa dip, and is big portioned to share with your friend .
The churros were the highlight of the meal. The best till date in Goa. Many restauranteurs have previously complained about the heat and humidity not allowing for great churros in Goa, and yet we went to Habanero on the muggiest day of March and these were perfectly crunchy, justthe right amount of sweet, and served with chocolate sauce for the match made in heaven.
The down side of the meal? The guacamole lacked spice and verve, the tres leches was not moist at all as they serve the leches on the side, and only the Uno leches , non the tres. The fish in the en fibil, is a basa, a fish not deserving of a Goan seafood menu.
A word on the service which is extremely hospitable , by Goan standards, and one of the reasons could be the hefty service charge. Hefty because most Indians barely dish out 10 % of their meal in tips, and the internationally accepted 15 to 18 % in itself is difficult to ensure in even five star restaurants. But remember well paid staff, means good service.
Food: 4 plates
Ambience: 4 plates
Service: 4 plates
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